Second Trip To Yi Lan Pt. 2

My favorite part about my second trip to Yi Lan was going to the ocean. Yi Lan is on the East coast of Taiwan, and is about a one hour drive away from Taipei.

At the beach, the waves were the largest I think I’ve ever seen in person. I tried to take some action shots with my iPhone, but iPhones only specialize in close-up photos.

The sand at this beach was more like black pebbles and less like the brown thin sand that we have in America. There are lots of pieces of driftwood and beautiful stones on the beach.

At the base of the wave in the picture below, you can see a black semi-circle. That is a flat rock that is being lifted up from the beach by the wave. When the waves come in really hard, you can see rocks flip up into the air like small fish.


Unfortunately, the beautiful sea turned into a scary scene the next day.

We’d just picked up a Vietnamese study abroad college student from the Yi Lan train station so we took her to the beach again because it’s a must-see location. The sky was getting dark and the wind was picking up because of a typhoon that was traveling North along Taiwan’s East coast and heading for Japan. Rain drops occasionally dropped down but then went away.

I snapped this photo of the sunset (but it is cloudy so you can’t see the sun).

The waves look small but if you look at the bunch of trash rags on the ground in the bottom right area of the photo, that bunch of rags was about the length of a human. So the waves are the height of an adult or higher. They look pretty close because they are extremely large waves, but they are actually far away.

I took the photo right after arriving at the beach. I walked through a wall of people who were lined on the edge of the sand, looking out into the waves and took the photo. The family friend that I was with overheard some people in the crowd who were speaking Taiwanese (which I can’t understand) and I was told that the undertow of the waves had pulled in a 60+ year old woman.

We all sat down on a hill overlooking the waves and watched as emergency workers arrived at the scene and had nothing to do but walk up and down the beach. The waves were too dangerous to do anything. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must’ve been for the family members of the old woman. It was very horrifying to look at the waves and imagine the body of the woman within the grey tumult. We left when it got too dark.

Just a day before, we were walking along the steep shores and letting the waves touch our feet, and today the same waves killed somebody.

Second Trip To Yi Lan Pt. 1

The first time I went to Yi Lan was the day after I arrived in Taiwan. Last weekend, I went there for the second time, this time with family friends instead of my host mother. Last weekend was a three day weekend because of 10/10, 雙十節, double-ten day, Taiwan’s Independence Day.

The family friends had an apartment in Yi Lan. It’s supposed to be a retreat location so there is no Wifi or TV in the apartment. To pass the very small amounts time between activities in the apartment, we played card games and read books.


The red apartment in the distance looks like a castle overlooking a moat. The green pasture in most of the photo is actually a floating carpet of water lilly-type plants on top of a lake.


I later learned that this plant is called Heat Seed, which makes a ton of sense.


Started off the second day of the weekend with breakfast in a bag. From the top, going clockwise: Sunny side up(荷包蛋), pork bun(豬肉包), and veggie dumpling(素餃子).

Eating out of a bag isn’t that uncommon in Taiwan. In night markets I’ve seen Indian chai poured into black bags and tied at the top around a straw.

My favorite part of this trip to Yi Lan was going to the beach.

Arrival in Taiwan

The 13 hour flight from San Francisco to Taipei was 13 hours but they went by quickly. There are many contributing factors:

1). I flew United Airlines for the first time, and it was great because they served free meals, snacks, and beverages pretty frequently, and they had a great movie collection (there had to be at least 70 movies and TV shows which could be played on command from a personal screen).

After the lights went out (signaling that it’s “nighttime” in the day of the plane. I’m not sure if it was nighttime in California or over the Pacific where the plane was at that moment.), stewardesses walked down the aisles with trays of water cups, and that was something I’d never seen before.

I watched The Grand Hotel Budapest, Transcendence, and Million Dollar Arm, all movies that I’ve had on my watch list. I liked The Grand Hotel Budapest the most because it was funny in a very toned down way and had a very unique style.

I figured out that to avoid jet-lag, you should pay attention to your sleeping schedule in the plane. Since I left San Francisco in the afternoon and would reach Taiwan in the evening of the next day, I stayed awake so that when I reached Taipei, I would be ready to sleep. It worked!

2). I was probably used to sitting down for long periods of time because one month earlier I’d sat in a car for 6 hours each day for 6 days in a , when my family drove from Illinois to California.

Taiwan is really humid and hot. My bedroom in my host mother’s apartment (my host mother is living by herself now because her husband is mostly in China for work, and her son just left for Germany on  Rotary Youth Exchange) is the only place with an AC that is on, but the wifi only works in the humid living room that has its windows open.

The view from the apartment (we’re on the 10th floor) is really cool in the mornings:

The first day here was tough because my host mom took me to a rotary group’s meeting in Yi Lan, which on the north east coast of Taiwan and a one hour drive from Taipei. After a gigantic seafood feast with 13-14 people at one round table, we got a tour of a nature center and a presentation from a professor who works with the Yi Lan community, and then we got another tour from Mr. Coffee (his nickname) who is building a giant 4-5 story coffee factory/museum near the ocean.

Mr. Coffee put a lot of thought into the building. He made sure the roof saves rainwater, and that customers at the museum get plenty of exercises by walking the stairs. The factory/museum was half built, but we walked through all of it. Mr. Coffee made the views really nice from inside the building, with open-air staircases (and even bathrooms with no ceilings) and balconies.

The rotarians were planning a musical event that will take place on the beach in Yi Lan so we scouted out many spots along the coast of the Pacific.