Two weekends ago, my host family invited Lakyn and me to go to the hot spring with them. They have been trying to go to the hot spring with me since the beginning of the year, but things keep coming up (ahem, typhoon). So, I was really glad I finally got to go!
We drove to the hot spring, not really sure what to expect. When we got there, turns out my host family had a huge picnic in the back of the car. The brought apples, yellow watermelon, baby corn, big corn, eggs, bamboo and more. There were bags and bags of food. We set out the blanket and stools, took our nets and went to the spring to boil some vegetables! Pretty cool. The hot spring is built up, so you’re not literally boiling vegetables in a stream or anything…it gets pumped into a stone pool. But, you can see the surrounding streams with steam coming off of them and near boiling water. Cooked vegetables are usually not my favorite thing….and I really actually dislike boiled eggs but luckily, I got out of eating the egg…and the veggies were actually delicious! The corn was so good and I ate tons of watermelon. I was stuffed! And really cool to think I boiled these with water straight from the earth.
After our picnic, I thought we would head home, but instead we went to a mochi factory! Mochi is an Asian glutinous rice ball. It can be plain or flavored, hot or cold, filled or not….so many possibilities! I love mochi….but I know a lot of western people don’t. It’s very chewy and could take some getting used to. I gave it to Melissa as a present from Taiwan because she is the foodie…verdict still unknown. But anyway, I like it, so I was really excited. We got to try different kinds of mochi. My favorite were the peanut stuffed and black sesame stuffed mochi. When my principal found out those were my favorite ones, he ordered those fillings and we made our own mochi! We had to roll the mochi blocks in flour, then stuff the filling inside and wrap it up to seal it, then roll it in flour again. I gotta say…if Harvard doesn’t work out…I am one talented mochi maker.
After mochi, we stopped and got bubble tea (as if I could fit any more in my stomach!). But, my principal is the one that got me hooked on the stuff, so he always buys it for me. Then, we were on our way home. It was such a good day and made me really thankful for the host family program. Not every place has it…just two in all of Fulbright Taiwan, and I’m so glad I get to live in one of them. I would never have been able to do that without them and it was really really fun! A very authentic Taiwanese day.