13 months
Jan 6:
sweet home, taipei
Jan 7:
culinary crash course
Jan 10:
kenting yee haw!
Jan 13:
the low down
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Indra statue in National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan; Jan 12, 2005

kao hsiung reunion

What a busy and emotional day! In the morning, we headed to the local Taipei airport (different than the international one) and took a 45-minute flight down south to a city called Kao Hsiung (pronounced something like “cow shyung”).

Sekim (Susan's Aunt – see sidebar) met us at the airport - she is full of contagious energy and it was great to see her again (she spends time in the States, too, so I had met her many times before). Then we stopped at the next terminal to pick up Susan’s sister, Lisan, who is passing through on a business trip.

We dumped our stuff at Sekim’s house, attended a traditional Taiwanese wedding (which includied a 14-course meal), and then headed to Ajik's (Susan's dad's brother) place. He has a large house that is crammed to the gills with family, as is typical with Taiwanese family homes (see second sidebar below). The people that live there are Ajik, his mother (Susan's grandmother), his wife, their two sons, and *their* wives and children. Needless to say, it's a lively place. Everybody was waiting for us to arrive and jumped up when we got there; there was much hugging and laughing and bowing. I only know a few words in Taiwanese, but everybody seemed pleased at what little I could say; I did my best and smiled a lot. I was nervous since I was meeting so many people for the first time, but they all were so amazingly friendly that I felt at home very quickly.

just a normal evening with the household

The one person who didn't jump out of her seat to greet us was, of course, Ama (Susan's grandmother). She is 91 and her days of jumping out of seats are over, but she's still sharp as a tack. So after saying hello to everybody, I knelt down next to Ama and said, "Ni hao, Ama. Wa hwanh hee kwanh dyuh ldee." (This is actually a combo-platter Mandarin and Taiwanese, and means "How are you, grandma? I am happy to meet you.") Ama laughed and patted me on the back and then said a bunch of stuff that I didn't understand, but it didn't matter. Susan summarized it as she was very happy to meet me, she had been waiting a long time and welcome to the family. Then Ama patted Susan on the back and told her she was very happy that she was finally married (compared with Taiwanese tradition, Susan married quite late, even though it was normal for the US). It was a very emotional moment. Susan is extremely fond of her Ama - her grandparents lived with them while they were growing up and were like a second set of parents to her and her sister. Nowadays, she doesn’t get to see Ama very often (and grandpa passed away a few years ago), but she misses them both very much.

So, without boring you with the details, we spent a long time just talking and catching up. When Sekim had fallen asleep from exhaustion, we finally decided that we better head home.

Today was a really great day for us. Susan was really happy to see everybody. And for me, it was great to meet so much wonderful family for the first time. In some ways, it was like getting married all over again to meet Ama and her other relatives and see that they were so excited that Susan and I are happy together.

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