Saturday, January 19, 2008

blah blah blah the end blah blah

We're done walking! ...for now at least. We finished our walk in Kenting, Taiwan, one of the southernmost cities on the island.

We arrived in the afternoon at the main strip of town. Most stores were closed, and no one was walking around on the street. I guess this is what all beach towns are like during the off-seasons.

We spoiled ourselves to a small hotel room that cost us about $20USD. It included dinner and breakfast. Good news for us, but quite potentially bad news for our stomachs. I was couped up in my aunt's house for a whole day because I got some sort of intestinal infection haha. I didn't see the outside world at all. Steve got sick too. We both feel quite a bit better now, but it was a pretty terrible feeling being immobolized from sickness. I wonder if that's what it feels like to be old sometimes. I guess I'll find out in many years.

Still got some intestinal germs to fight off!

So we're done walking. It's weird to be done. It also seems like history already. It's kind of like it happened years ago. It was only 17 days of my life. That's nothing in the timeline of a life, but I guess a lot can happen in half a month. We didn't sleep in any one place for more than two days. That's probably one of the cooler things about the trip.

Each day we awoke to different scenery, people, questions, whatever... and it's just a great feeling to have continuous change in life. It keeps you on your feet, literally.

We're in Chia-yi now, my parents' home town. We've been here for 4 days -- one too many, because of this intestine thing haha. It's fun though -- just chilling in my would-be home had my parents not decided to save up money for the big move to America.

As I grow older, relationships with relatives have the potential to grow a little deeper, and I've realized that my limited language has slowed my ability to communicate. It seems unfair. There's only so much that can be discussed, and it seems like if I stayed any longer, there'd be nothing in the air to chat about anymore.

So far as I've noticed, language is the barrier between me and half of my ethnicity. It's the point where I can't learn any further about the culture. Sure I could sit for a million years and watch the world spin and see what kind of interactions take place between the people of Taiwan, but without a stronger sense of linguistic communication, it can only go so far.

Religion is a huge factor in the culture. Only by the guidance of any close relatives would I know how to act in any sort of religious setting. I don't understand most the gods I'm praying to, why I'm praying to them, and the hierarchical structure of which I should do so. It's wild how this culture is so intertwined with religion.

The relationship between culture and religion is interesting here, and I'd like to learn more, but at the same time, I've never really been one for any certain type of religion. I treat it as more of a learning opportunity to see what kind of faith people have in different aspects of the world.

My parents come from a Buddhist ancestry line, and since they've moved to the U.S. 20-some years ago, I've noticed that the amount of days they burn incense and set out offerings has gone down quite consistently. Instead, they seem to have taken up more humanitarian issues in the community with helping in Adopt-a-Road programs, nursing homes, food for the homeless, etc.

Has one form of spirituality turned itself into another? Was religion lost because there was a lack of culture surrounding my parents in America? Has religion evolved into a new species after having traveled thousands of miles to America?

It's more than just immigrant families that feel disconnected with root cultures. One distinct culture I know of is the native population of Taiwan. The youth are often stuck between the ability to work in the city or to lead a traditional life. There are positives and negatives to both lifestyles in today's world, and I think that it's highly important for the youth of all multi-ethnic families to insist upon and garner a healthy balance between traditional and progressive values.

So, I guess the "walk" in the non-literal sense is not over yet, and won't be over until I die. Perhaps that's why the supposed ending to this trip wasn't a celebration. It's not over yet. Nothing's concluded. It won't be for a long time, and that's probably the greatest thing in the world, because endless possibilities are forever challenging, and that's what keeps us alive.

Thank you, dearest reader, for reading. I guess this is sort of a final post for this adventure, but I'll post up some walking stats soon and probably some pictures too. This project might turn into an independent study for Spring semester, so stay tuned for a potential multi-media short documentary. I've been recording audio and video along the route. I'll keep you posted.


At January 24, 2008 at 10:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I found your blog through the Intelligent Traveler's website just a few days ago and wanted to thank you for posting the blog. I'm backpacking in Taiwan this summer and your posts gave me a glimpse into what it would sort of be like. Moreover, congrats on actually walking so many kilometers!

P.S. I thought this was a little cool, but I'm planning on transferring into UMD next fall as a sophomore and seeing that you go to UMD caught my attention.

Best of luck in your travels,

At January 25, 2008 at 9:00 AM , OpenID fefifooooyi said...

Jeff man, i'm glad you made it!
Can't wait for you to get back!
Call me when you do.

At January 27, 2008 at 12:15 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

Have an awesome time, Lucy. You gotta check out the East Coast when you're there. It's beautiful. We can trade Taiwan backpacking stories when you're at UMD. Peeaace.

At January 27, 2008 at 6:34 AM , Anonymous Marilyn Terrell said...

Dear Jeff,
I've enjoyed your blog so much! I wish you were staying longer to do more walking. It's been a fascinating trip.

At January 30, 2008 at 1:12 PM , Anonymous Wally of said...

Jeff, buddy! Just finished reading your journey down the length of Taiwan. Would have enjoyed being with the two of you but work gets in the way. Glad you guys are back home. Hope to see you this summer if you are up this way. Peace! Wally.

At January 31, 2008 at 10:15 PM , Blogger Jeff said...

Wally, thanks for keepin' up with the blog. Will be sure to drop by if I can this summer. As always, you're more than welcome down here. Peace!


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