There's a handy little list of the final key dates for the 2023 Springs-Waiōrea school…
Towards to the end of Term 3, our long awaited Overseas EOTC trip departed to Taiwan. Here is a trip recount from one of the students.
Taiwan Trip Recount – by Year 13 student Rose Perry
On the 19th of September, 10 students from our Western Springs Year 13 Chinese class travelled alongside Ms Liao and Ms Ruland to catch an early morning flight to Taiwan. The purpose was to allow the students to practice our Chinese and to learn about Taiwanese culture, however, we also experienced the joys of independence, and discovered newfound confidence that helped us navigate through the country and communicate with locals and fellow travellers alike.
We ended up putting our skills into use immediately, navigating our way through Taoyuan International Airport to exchange money, purchase sim cards and engage in some much needed food shopping, during which ‘Milk Peanut Soup’ was mistakenly bought.
Over the following days, we visited 2 separate theme parks: Leofoo Cultural Village, a cross between a safari experience and a theme park, and the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village, where we learnt about Taiwan’s 16 different indigenous tribes, and then visited the connected theme park for some water based entertainment. It was during our visit to a night market in TaiChung where the group’s conversational skills were tested, with one group having a 30-minute chat with a Taiwanese university student on their college campus, which provided some interesting insight into the area we had been exploring.
On the 21st we visited the Sun Moon Lake; two lakes that combined to form one, with sacred indigenous land making up a small island in the middle. After this, it was off to Alishan township, housing Alishan mountain, which 3 of our members climbed early in the morning on the 23rd to survey the sun rising over the top of the second highest mountain in Asia: Jade Mountain. Unfortunately, the rest of the group did not take kindly to Alishan, due to an earlier group hike that was interrupted by sudden downpour, resulting in 10 drenched teenagers.
We then visited two small villages on our way to the Wenhua Road Night Market, after which we travelled to Tainan to learn about the Dutch’s rule of Formosa while visiting Fort Zeelandia and Fort Provintia. We then attended a cultural drum performance by a percussion group called ‘Ten Drums’. Naturally, a theme park was attached to their theatre, which was based in an old sugar factory, and after trying laser tag and plunger archery, we departed for a tour around a cocoa farm, and then on to an aquarium, where we would be spending the night under a see-through tunnel, surrounded by fish.
After making friends with beluga whale Babu, the high-speed rail took us from Khaosiung all the way to Taipei, at speeds of up to 300 km an hour. At the Ningxia Night Market, some members of our group were roped into a youtube video and helped 4 influencers film an eating challenge throughout the bustling market. On the 27th, the group visited Jiufen (the supposed inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’,) the Houtong Cat Village, and Shifen Old Street, where we sent lanterns filled with wishes into the heavens, before nearly being run over by an oncoming train. After a quick visit to the National Palace Museum and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the group visited the Taipei 101 building, taking an elevator to the 89th floor of the building for a panoramic viewing experience. This, however, was not enough, so us students proceeded to hike up 900 metres of uphill steps to view the sunset and night lights from the look point at the top of Elephant Mountain. Over the next 2 days, after getting lost in the metro station, visiting thrift stores, painting clay flutes and celebrating a group member’s birthday, we waited 6 hours in the airport departure lounge, only to discover our flight had been cancelled. We ended up back in Taipei for one last, unexpected night, which we were lucky enough to spend in an incredibly fancy 4-star hotel. We finally were able to start our journey back to NZ the next morning, on October the 2nd.
While the trip certainly had a lot of ups and downs, the students of the 2023 Year 13 Chinese class will never forget this amazing experience. Thank you to the teachers and everyone else involved for organising the trip and thank you Taiwan for treating us well.
Photo (left) – Stay overnight in Aquarium
Photo (right) – National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium
Photo – Taipei 101 Nightview from the Elephant Mountain