Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Summer. Finally a break after University. I was a young 20 years old man, always used to staying inside his room, looking at the world for the screen of his computer. But there it was. The day I'll finally discover Asia. I had no idea of what was going to happen to me, but the best was yet to come. Day 1 Everything started July 13th. I hadn't got much sleep the day before and I was still trying to figure out what was going on around me. It was the first time I'd take the plane alone, and it didn't look like an easy task. But eventually I found my gate and headed to Shanghai... The Shanghai Pudong airport was an extraordinary thing to look at. It was pretty modern and you couldn't drink water under 30 degrees. But I heard the airport was imagined by French architect Paul Andreu, which kind of makes you feel more comfortable. Being in a plane is a little scary. But staying in it for over 10 hours becomes very painful. Thank god the air company found a way to cheer things up a bit. After 15 long hours of wait, 4 movies and 4 meals, I finally landed in Taiwan. Boy I felt numb. I realized that I hadn't slept that much during the flight, but it didn't matter. I was really excited to meet the other students. I then arrived at the airport, where I met David for the first time, a mechanical engineer student who was going to take care of us during the summer school. I also had to convert my US dollars into Taiwanese dollars, and I was scared I'd end up with a lot of money. But Taiwan's smallest coin is 1$, so didn't have too much cash to carry after all. The bus trip to the NCU went pretty well. I finally met some of the people I'd stay with, like Reda a French student from Reims majoring in math, and two Hong Kong Guys Chi Kwan and Bryan studying math too. Right after unpacking, we all headed to a little restaurant where we'd have dinner, the right time for us to chat a little with each other and try figuring out where everybody came from. Day 2 My first day at the NCU started smoothly. After a quick breakfast just below our dorm, we headed to class. Except that our classroom was located at the other end of the campus. So we walked all the way there, discovering our new environment at the same time. The NCU had been ravaged by a typhoon a few days ago, but hopefully there were no casualties. Later on I discovered our classroom where we were going to have 3 hours of Chinese language courses every day. This is Gun Tae, and here's Ki Sung. Both Korean students I'll study with in class A. Yeah, we're all beginners in Chinese. The rest of the day passed by pretty fast, and I didn't really have time to realize where I was or what I was doing. I crashed on my bed after class and took a look at what was on TV... wow. I didn't understand a thing. So I decided to go out and eat with our counselor David and Hayato, a Japanese student. We tried out some beef and noodles soup, which was delicious even if I had a lot of difficulties eating with chopsticks. My day ended after some pool games. I was surprised at how cheap it was, because the fee was proportional to the time spent playing, instead of the amount of games played. By splitting up the price I think I ended up paying 20 cents for 1h30 of play. Day 3 The following day went pretty well. After visiting the campus I joined the cultural course class, where we created our own necklaces using nail polish. I started to feel more and more comfortable with my new classmates. Even if 10 of us were French, there were a bunch of Koreans, and a lot of girls. This is Matthias, a French student studying Chinese back in Lyon and staying for one whole year at the NCU. And this is Adrien, another French student coming from the UTBM, which is the school in which I study engineering back in France. By the end of the afternoon, some people got the chance to present their creation in front of the class. I met Boran for the first time. Later in the evening we went out to visit Jhongli, which is the city where the NCU is located. I met Eva, and Tim, two Taiwanese teacher assistant during the summer school majoring in French -- and Lynn, a counselor just like David who was going to take care of us during the trip. The temperature always rose from several degrees when we went to Jhongli downtown, because of the heavy traffic and pollution. I was surprised to see that even at night, all the shops were still open, and a lot of people were in the streets. Day 4 It was kind of hard getting used to wake up every day at 8h, but I started getting the hang of it. The morning language courses with our teacher, I-Li turned out to be a blast. Even if it was a little difficult to memories all the new words she taught us, we always had deliciously entertaining breaks. I also got closer to Yuho, another Korean student who turned out to be very good in English, and my roommate, Mathieu who was a really awesome person. Later we had a quick stop at Family Mart, about time I introduced you to the other French students. This is Tiphaine, Patrick and Celine. All majoring in engineering in my school: the UTBM. Even if we studied on the same campus back in France, we didn't get to know each other before the trip. Mathieu was also a former UTBM student, and now works as an IT engineer. When the Taekwondo class started, I was a little scared. I hoped the teacher wasn't going to be too rough on us. But eventually, everything went fine. After some warm up, the teacher taught us some useful moves we could practice if we were in danger. Tammy and Bryan helped to demonstrate and the lessons ended up being very interesting thanks to David's effort to translate everything the teacher said. After a quick break, the counselors accompanied us at the Jhongli night market, a place swarming with people where we could buy a lot of clothes, oily treats, or even play some games. The fruits there were fresh and delicious, and had a unique flavor different from those in France. I was beginning to realize that Taiwan was a pretty special country, with kind and obliging people that would always do their best to help you. I was also getting closer and closer to the French students I met there, especially Mathieu. But the Koreans were also so nice and welcoming that I wanted to know more about their culture. I went to bed exhausted but with many plans ahead. Day 5 Half of the week had already passed, but so many things were still to come. It was already Thursday, and we were getting ready to discover aboriginal facts, dances and songs from the former tribes in Taiwan. Two Taiwanese girls: Célia, majoring in French and her sister -- both amongst the remaining 500 000 people of aboriginal origins in Taiwan -- were going to deliver the course. And I loved it. Célia sung so well I could just close my eyes a feel part of a tribe, chanting to the gods. After the songs came the dances. And boy I sucked. The men were supposed to show their strength and bravery as the girls were expected to be soft and gentle. The whole choreography could be amazing to watch providing the whole thing was done right. In the evening, I wanted to try out some of the drinks in the neighboring shops around the NCU and luckily Tim guided Adrien and I to try some of them. We all decided to go on a lemon and honey smoothie, and we didn't regret it. After, we went back to the guesthouse, were our dorms were located and had a nice chat before going to sleep... Day 6 On Friday we made our first culture trip to Yingge, a District located south of Taipei City. It was a really awesome day. I was starting to know some of my classmates pretty well, and friendships were being built. I also discovered what a Taiwanese bus actually looked like. People could ask to sing a karaoke song during the trip. And we were on for a nice and groovy ride. We then made pottery using clay in Yingge Old Street, and it clearly wasn't as easy as it looked... We all had our own machines, where clay was already set on. The first step was to shape your creation from the exterior using your whole hand. After, by placing my thumbs above my pottery, I was able to "dig" inside the clay to make it hollow. When our job was done, we decorated our pots and left them to be heated and dried for 2 weeks. And we went back to the NCU the same way we had come, with some cool karaoke songs. Day 7 The week-end had finally arrived, and even if we all were very tired from our week, we thought it would be a good idea to go and visit Wulai, another District around Taipei that wasn't on our school schedule. The trip wasn't too much of a chore thanks to Eva's help. But it was still long though... Hopefully, luxuriant and wild scenery was awaiting us. I was amazed at the peaceful view and surrounding quietness of the area compared to the city. But the trip wasn't over. In order to get to the top we still had to take the cable car, after a walk in small village. Even if we barely knew each other, Eva was always there when we needed help. She practically bought everything for us and prepared the trip the day before for nothing to go wrong. I had the feeling we would get along well with each other. We went to the aboriginal village park and watched some dances. I could recognize some of the moves Célia taught us, and the choreography made some of us want to join the dancers. So Mathieu, along with Eva, Tiphaine, Céline and Patrick went to perform on stage -- and it didn't always seem that easy to follow the tempo. Then, we visited the park and had a lot of fun there. By the time we took the cable car back -- I was getting really tired and was glad to find my bed back at the NCU, with many memories of the awesome day we just had. Day 8 Taipei City...finally. After visiting the National Taiwan University's huge campus, I headed to Taipei 101. 509 meters high, it is known for being the 4th tallest building in the world and I was wondering what the city looked like from that high. This is Annabelle, and she is studying Chinese and literature back in France. Just like Reda and Matthias, she's staying for one year at in Taiwan. Oh! I think the elevator ready for us, let's hop in! The elevator we were in is the fastest one on the planet, and won a Guinness record. With a speed of 60 km/h, we went up the 100 floors in about 30s and I could feel my ears pop just as if I was on a plane. The view we had from the city was breathtaking. The other buildings looked so small compared to 101, and the tiny little cars we could see looked like toys with ants going in and out of them. The stability of the tower is maintained thanks to a gigantic sphere weighing over 600 tons and located at the top end of the tower. The sphere allows the tower to be less affected by natural disasters while still remaining flexible. After going to the outdoor highest peak of the tower, we slowly went back down to meet our friends and find some place to eat. In the evening, we went to the Long Shan temple, a really special place for the Buddhists right in the middle of Taipei. The unique atmosphere there was reinforced by the incense sticks burning in the night and regrouped in the same spot. I also noticed that people were throwing two pieces of wood shaped like a crescent moon while praying. Someone later explained to me that those pieces had a round and a flat side. The first step is to clearly think of a question you'd like to ask to a god. Once you've asked it, you can throw both crescent blocks. If one falls on the round side and the other on the flat side, it is a "Yes" answer. But if both blocks fall on the same side, it means "No". When I found two spare blocks abandoned on the side, I decided to give it a try. I wanted to know if I would have a more than friendly relationship with a Taiwanese girl. The first time I threw them, the two blocks fell on the same side. Disappointed by the answer I decided to give it another try. But they fell on the same side again. Meh, maybe it's not always good to try figuring out your future... Day 9 The first day of our new week marked a new beginning. We had 6 hours of Chinese language courses so it was going to be long, but at least, it was a nice opportunity to take a break from all the trips we had made. Mathieu, Annabelle and I also had a presentation on the differences between Taiwanese and French deserts to prepare. So during the midday break, we went to a small snack store selling huge ice creams on campus to interview one of the employees there. She showed us a selection of deserts people were usually buying, and was really kind to have us in the middle of her working day - And we even go one Oreo ice cream for free Yeah, we also wanted to bake a chocolate cake. But making a cake on campus was almost impossible for a student. So we just gave up doing it. Day10 Today we were going to customize and learn how to play with spinning tops. But not just the simple ones you can just spin with the tip of your fingers, but bigger ones, wrapped in thick cord and a bit more technical to use. But first, we had class. This is Euiryung, a kind and smart Korean student working with us. Yuho and some others had tried a nightclub in Jhongli the day before, and I could tell from his eyes that he was pretty tired. Adrien and Euiryung on their side were ready to start. Finally my long awaited moment arrived. The spinning tops lesson. Once our top was ready, we had to wrap our cord tightly around it. To throw the top, one of the techniques was to swing your arm in parallel with the ground, then swiftly move your wrist back towards you to pull the cord. Yuho was about to try his luck on the big one. Due to its weight, he would have to pull the cord quickly to give the top enough initial spinning speed -- but thanks to its inertia, it would spin longer. Still pretty good for a first try. And then the tournament started. The goal was to make your top spin for the longest amount of time. The day had been a blast. Even if I had had a lot of trouble getting my top to spin properly, the teacher sure taught us a lot of things, and I got a great deal of help from my Korean friends. Xie xie lau che! Day 11 Wednesday, July 24th. It was hard to imagine I was already halfway through my trip. I was having a lot of fun and preferred not to think too much about the trip back. After I-li taught us how to make Chinese tea, Patrick, Céline and Tiphaine made an interesting presentation on the differences between Taiwanese and French universities. In the afternoon, we had a tai chi lesson, and our teacher taught us some basic moves and stances. I nearly slept all day. Mathieu I had the bad habit of speaking until late at night when we got back to our dorm, and I was starting to feel the consequences of going too late to bed. Day 12 The next day we had Calligraphy class. But ehhh... I don't have any videos this time around. So I'll just sum things up with pictures. This is Lotus, the person who set up this amazing trip that I'll never thank enough for everything she did. Calligraphy is an art that is quite easy to learn, but extremely difficult to master. To perfectly draw Chinese ideograms, you must use your brush delicately. The key to writing properly is to make balanced symbols, and accompany your strokes till the end. I got to catch up with the people I haven't introduced yet... Here's Eunyoung, a very sweet Korean student I met. Kissung and her make a lovely couple. This is Aram, here's Ka Young... And there's Grace, three lovely girls I enjoyed chatting with -- even if their Korean names were a sometimes complicated to pronounce. And this is Yannick, a great friend who comes from Burkina Faso and who had already stayed 6 months at the NCU. We really made a great group of Koreans, French, Taiwanese and even Japanese people. This was the moment of our lives -- a memory that we'd never forget. Day 13 My second week had passed by so fast... We started our trip to the south of Taiwan on Friday July 26th and had a lot of bus. But it was also a great opportunity to visit some places on the way. And we made quite a few stops, like on HouBi Lake, where we had a little boat ride. And I got pretty scared. The boat was moving so much because of the waves I thought it was going to sink. But hopefully, we were able to go down to its' lower level. From there we should have had an amazing underwater view of the sea...but the water was a bit too cloudy this time around. Late in the afternoon, we arrived to the so called "Dapingding Tableland" where a beautiful and wild landscape was waiting for us. It was the perfect place to take pictures and stretch our legs a bit before arriving to our hotel. But our day wasn't quite over yet. We still had to check out Kenting's night market, which ended up being a pretty lively place to visit. Day 14 Melancholy was getting me. I had started to have some feelings for Tammy but I felt stupid for behaving that way -- knowing that I'll probably never see her again in one week. Some things better be forgotten before they hurt too much. That day was going to be epic.