Rhys

Pre-Trip Reflections:


  1. How do you feel about the upcoming trip?
-I feel excited that I have the opportunity to go overseas and learn outside of my classroom
  1. 3 Things that I am looking forward to
-Tours of the important cultural sites
-Learning more about the country itself
-Experiencing new things I don’t have the chance to in Singapore
  1. 3 things I hope to learn from Taiwan
-cultural differences
-history of local landmarks
-daily life
  1. 3 things I hope to learn from my friends
-astronomy skills
-different viewpoints on a specific topic
-creative thinking skills
  1. 3 things I hope to learn about myself
-ability to adapt to a foreign culture
-whether I am able to survive independently for a week
-whether am I appreciative towards others’ lifestyles
  1. 3 challenges I give myself
-eat anything that i am given
-learn to be used to crowded places
-learn to listen and understand chinese
  1. What are my expectations of Taiwan?
-cool weather (~24ºc)
-interesting geographical features
-entertaining night life


Daily Reflections:


Analyse your thoughts and think about their significance and impact on your personal growth and development
DAY 1
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-exhausting/exciting/unique
  • 3 highlights of the day
-The visit to the sulfur springs is something I had never knew was so interesting. This was my first time seeing such an amazing natural phenomenon and the smell of sulfur was also quite different from what I had imagined
-Trekking to Yehliu Lighthouse was something I never really saw myself doing so before the start of the trip. We decided to follow the path and climb upwards until we made it to the top, which the lighthouse stands at. The view there was rewarding enough for us in the end.
-Visiting the local night markets. I had always envisioned the night markets to simply be booths set up at night which sells food items. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find numerous booths selling many other things, ranging from clothes to games and food. The lack of dustbins in public also caught me off-guard and had to search for a long time before finally finding one.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-climate is slightly cooler than in Singapore
-Taiwan used to be submerged underwater, until convergence of the Pacific and Philippine plates pushed the lands above sea level
-people would rather use motorcycles to get around as they are cheaper and more mobile as compared to cars
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-I do not like crowded areas so the night market will be an issue
-I am no longer afraid to talk to strangers
-I can almost function normally on a 4hr sleep duration at night
  • 2 things you didn’t do so well
-staying awake
-taking sufficient pictures
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-learning more from the University lecturers
-learning more from the workers at the Central Weather Bureau


DAY 2
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-enriching/educational/inspirational
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, where we learnt more about the various equipments used throughout the years to measure the weather.
-trip to the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) in the National Central University of Taiwan, where we had lectures from local professors about the various equipment used by the astronomers. There was a hands-on activity where we had to locate a hidden transmitter located within University compounds using only a handheld radio antenna.
-visit to the local night market. The one we went to today was significantly smaller than the one from the previous night and was less crowded as a result. I feel less confined by the lack of space today as compared to yesterday night. I stocked up on some food (instant noodles) at the local Family Mart.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-hurricanes form at about 38º from the equator, which Taiwan coincidentally happens to be within. Therefore, the Taiwanese people are prepared for such natural events, which occur during the June to October period.
-there are only a small handful of telescopes with diameters larger than 2m, and Taiwan is planning on constructing another on the Yushan mountains, beside their original one at ~2800m
-dustbins are really rare, and you have to personally sort out recyclable items before throwing them away
  • 2 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-Smelly toufu doesn’t taste as bad as its smell, but I still couldn’t handle its taste
-Masters level classes are smaller than I expected; less than 10 people
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-enjoying the full experience of the night market; I spent most of the time at a local convenience store
-lack of understanding of the Chinese Language made lectures quite hard to understand
-staying awake
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-visit to National Taiwan University
-visit to the local highschool
-visit to the mall at night
DAY 3
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-educational/engaging/
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to the National Taiwan University (NTU) in the morning. We were brought to the old physics campus building [which was later converted into a museum (Gallery of University History)], where we got to experience the history of the University since its founding and also a little of what it used to look like in the past. We were then brought across the street to have a short lecture about various equipments used in the past; eg: Cockcroft-Walton Accelerator (early particle accelerator).
-Talk by Pisin Chen at the Leung Center for Cosmology and Particle Astrophysics about our Universe. He talked about how the universe began starting from the Big Bang, to his trip to the Geographic South Pole in 2011, and a little onto the topic of quantum physics.
-trip to the local mall (Miramar). I bought some gifts and the food there was surprisingly cheap. The mall itself had lots of things to look at, but some items were beyond my budget.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-students in the Li Shan Senior High school take 14 subjects, and are doing extremely well
-students in the High school have short breaks in-between lessons, ~15mins each
-martyrs fighting for Taiwan are highly respected, with guards watching over the shrine daily
  • 2 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-the terms used for certain things by the locals are really different from what I am used to, which makes making purchases quite confusing at times
-time management is a little off; I wake up too early and end up feeling tired
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-communicating fluently in chinese
-finance management
-unintentionally sleeping at times
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-new hostel
-earthquake museum visit
-long bus ride
DAY 4
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-exciting/informative/
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to the 921 Earthquake Museum; a former junior high school turned museum which collapsed due to an earthquake which struck in 1999. There was an earthquake simulator which emulated the 7.3 magnitude earthquake which struck that day, along with the aftershocks which followed through. Much of the original school structure was preserved in the condition it was left in, and acrylic supports were introduced to prevent the buildings from further collapse.
-visit to Taizhong Natural Science Museum (National Museum of Natural Science). There, we visited some of the numerous exhibits there; astronomy, Zhang Heng’s various inventions, and on history of acupuncture. A notable exhibit was a two-story building which was a water powered clock which was able to accurately tell the time through the number of small figurines which appeared on different levels, each symbolising a unit of time.
-rain was quite inconsistent at the earthquake museum. It poured heavily in short intervals, which initially caught us off-guard when we first reached the area
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-Taiwan endures a large amount of earthquakes annually (≈45,000), with about 1000 which are noticeable to humans (1+ on the richter scale)
-Due to Taiwan’s geographical formation, her rivers are unusually short (≈200km), which means that the rivers are highly prone towards flooding in the event of a heavy rainfall. As such, the local government has designated zones surrounding rivers around the river to be areas serving dual purposes; a park and a “flood zone” to act as a buffer zone should the rivers overflow during rainy season.
-commuter train prices have meanings. Cheaper train tickets means that the train will stop at every single station along the way, and, despite its cheap price, people would rather pay slightly more for an express train ticket which will quickly bring them to their destination. Cheaper-fared trains will have to give way to the express trains as well, and would often require multiple stops of an average of 15mins wait to allow for the other trains to bypass them (express trains skip stations).
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-rain at night makes for really amazing videos
-wearing a poncho in 30sec is very hard
-instant noodles for breakfast is probably better than bread
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-keeping dry
-following closely to time
-planning for clothes use
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-getting away from the heavy rain
-visit to the astronomy museum
-new hostel *-*
DAY 5
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-educational/inspirational/fun
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to an astronomy museum, where we learnt more about our local solar system
-visit to the observatory of the museum. Weather was poor so using the telescopes were unfortunately unusable
-visit to a local mall for us to restock on our food materials to get ready for the long day tomorrow
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-Tainan is a one of the oldest cities in Taiwan. It is the first city in which many things were introduced; construction of schools, governments, dams
-Tainan has the highest concentration of PhD holders in all of Taiwan, as they value education highly
-vertical expressways spanning from the north to the south of the country are labelled using odd numbers (1/3/5/etc) and horizontal expressways running from the East to the West are given even numbers. There are a total of 3 expressways in the country- the North, Central, and South.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-i need to polish on my chinese, as it is very hard to order food when you can’t understand the menu
-shopping can be done very quickly if you plan beforehand
-i probably need more than 6hrs of sleep daily (unintentionally falling asleep on bus)
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-finances management; I overspent again :(
-effectively communicating with the locals; i could not understand what they were saying
-shirt planning (I am running dangerously short on pants)
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-visit to the nuclear power plant
-visit to the observatory
-staying out of the rain
DAY 6
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-informative; as I got to further enhance my knowledge of the various types of energy production in Taiwan (Coal/Solar/Nuclear/Wind/Hydroelectric)
-physically draining; waking up at 4:30am is not my cup of tea. I was left exhausted at the end of the day despite trying to catch up on my sleep in the bus.
-depressing; due to the rain, we could not complete many activities planned
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to the nuclear power plant. We got a tour and in depth explanations on how nuclear power is dealt with around the world, especially in Taiwan
-short trip to the Chuhuo Special Scenic Area, where we got to explore the natural methane gas vents which was intentionally set on fire to prevent harmful gases from leaking to the environment
-trip to the observatory, where we were given a short introduction to what they were doing, and also a short backdoor trip to the marine conservatory where we saw the visible efforts put by the Taiwanese people to protect the marine wildlife- especially the sea turtles
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-rainy weather is rather common, and some people still decide to build their houses (illegally) next to small streams in the drier months, only to have the small river swallow up their possessions during a storm
- Taiwanese GDP is stagnating; it used to be better than Singapore’s in the past. However as time passed, Singapore’s GDP has managed to surpass Taiwan’s and is now twice that of Taiwan
-Americium-241 emits alpha particles and is commonly found within household smoke detectors. The alpha particles cannot harm humans unless it's directly ingested, as its emitted rays are stopped easily even by the atmosphere due to its massive weight
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-I still cannot bring myself to appreciate the nightlife, unfortunately
-mosquitos are quite vicious in rural areas and i got bitten multiple times just by leaving the door open
-I am still having issues counting fast (money) on the spot
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-i forgot to bring mosquito repellents as i have not foreseen going to rural places
-speaking to the locals (again); had lots of issues trying to understand what was written on the menu
-staying clean. Accidentally stepped into puddles of mud, ruining my good pair of shoes
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-final tours around the island
-visit to the museums
-final night in Taiwan ! *excited*
DAY 7
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-enthralling experiences at the various locations, notably at the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium
-enjoyable; as there were lots of things we learnt by visiting sites of significant importance to the country (eg: She Ding Coral Mountains)
-enchanting; it felt amazing that we got the opportunity to visit such places in person rather than looking at it through pictures.
  • 3 highlights of the day
-Visit to the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium. As we reached slightly before opening time, we could witness the staff opening the park and starting up the various attractions. I found the various attractions to be mesmerizing; especially the jellyfishes, although they simply float around in their tanks. The gradual color cycling shining on the jellyfish makes it feel almost dream-like when looking at them. We were also privileged to be able to watch both the seal and the penguin feeding times, but unfortunately missed the puffins’ due to overlapping times with the seal feeding.
-trip to the She Ding Coral mountains. It was initially planned to be a short hike to see the remains of corals on the top of the mountains, but we somehow hiked around and managed to witness majority of what the park had to offer. The afternoon sun was blazingly hot, but the shade provided by the sheer volume of trees within the park mitigated must of the burning rays of light. The pathway through the large coral rock formations got quite difficult to navigate due to its narrow proximity and muddy floors, but we managed to pull through without much problems (I nearly slipped though).
-journey (hike?) to the Kenting Weather Radar station and the monolith at the southernmost tip of Taiwan (N21º53’58 • E120º50’59.7). The hike down to the monolith was 500m (stated by signboard) but the total trip from our bus to that sign is a good ~150m more. It was extremely taxing on our bodies, as most of us have yet to recover from the hike around the Coral mountains some 30mins before coming here. However, the view at the end was more than enough to let us forget about our fatigue and enjoy our scenery.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-Manchurian Port Drawbridge isn’t a drawbridge. It’s actually a suspension bridge.
-Taiwan has an incredibly diverse marine ecosystem, with a large number of fish not normally found within the waters of Singapore.
-coral reef remains are quite common atop hills all over Taiwan, which further pushes the point that it was originally from under the sea
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-long hikes under the sun isn’t my cup of coffee
-the pork burger did not live up to the hype I was promised about
-i would probably do poorly if asked to explore the Coral Mountains by myself. Numerous crevices found within the rocks covered in cobwebs make me squeamish
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-staying out from the heat
-drinking sufficient water
-finance management (I hit my spending cap unknowingly and had to borrow $300TWD for my dinner)
  • 3 things you look forward to tomorrow
-returning back to Singapore
-final shopping trip in Taiwan
-final visit to a Science and Technology museum
DAY 8
  • 3 words to describe today’s experiences
-heuristic; we got to have a hands-on experience of the history of science and technology museum
-captivating; the exhibits at the museum were really detailed in their explanations of the various aspects in which they were responsible for explaining. As a result, I now have more knowledge of the history of science and technology as compared to the day before.
-hyped; final day of the trip, and it is really both a mixture of feelings; the last 7 days in Taiwan was a really interesting experience in which i have learnt much more about the World around me. I hope that I will be able to come on more of such trips in the future.
  • 3 highlights of the day
-visit to the National Science & Technology museum. We were given the chance to appreciate how technology and science has progressed through the years in Taiwan following its early roots hundreds of years ago. I feel that such trips are essential for everyone as it allows us to appreciate what we have today is a result of what the early pioneers in the field have dedicated their entire lives to in the past.
-final shopping trip at the airport mall. I finally got to stock up on my snacks (they ran out) and do some last-minute shopping for gifts which i intend to give to my family once I return home.
-last lunch at a seafood restaurant. I find it amazing what the arge variety of food a $10 budget can get us here in Taiwan.
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about Taiwan
-Yuan Shan Fan Dian is a world-famous hotel due to its numerous number of noteworthy visitors over the years- many being world-leaders and prime ministers.
-recycling is treated as an important everyday event in Taiwan. Whenever we eat our food, we're expected to already know which bins what item goes into. For example, plastic cups must be thrown into plastic recycling bins, general waste (bones) goes into the trash bin, and so on.
-trash cans are rather rare for some reason. I suspect that it's to let their citizens learn how to properly manage their trash so that they do not take what they do not need. (Plastic bags in supermarkets are chargeable for a small amount of money)
  • 3 things you’ve learnt about yourself
-last minute shopping is very rushed and I do not like the feeling of doing it again
-time flies really quickly. It feels like we’ve just reached Taiwan only yesterday, but the trip is already nearing its conclusion.
-I find it hard to leave my comfort zone to learn to appreciate new stuff (eg; smelly tofu)
  • 3 things you didn’t do so well
-budget management is ultimately one of the biggest issues in which I have not resolved despite trying to do so since day 1. I have kept track of my spending since the first day but I didn’t write down how much money I had left after each day.
-effective planning of my clothes. I ran out of the essential ones a few days before the end of the trip.
-keeping track of my belongings; I misplaced my phone charging cable near the start of the trip and had to get a replacement which was very expensive.

  • /end/
End-of-Trip Reflections: 
    1. How is the Taiwanese culture shaped? What are the historical events that shaped its culture?
    • The Taiwanese culture is shaped through a mixture of Confucianism Han Chinese and its aboriginal people. This results in a perception of both modern and traditional understandings. Taiwan has been involved in multiple events which shaped the country’s culture throughout the 20th century, supposedly having roots in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) suppression of the Taiwanese people during the early postwar period (1945-1960s). Past the mid-1970s, Bentuhua (Taiwanese localization) happened. It is known as a defining moment in Taiwanese history, where the Taiwanese successfully established a separate identity apart from that of China. Bentuhua aims to emphasize the importance of a separate Taiwanese culture, society, economy, and nationality rather than consider it solely as a spin-off of mainland China.
    • Another notable trait of the Taiwanese people is that they are extremely resilient and united even in the face of the numerous adversaries the country faces each year. The perfect example, in my opinion, would be in the wake of Typhoon Morakot (August 8, 2009). Torrential rainfall triggered massive landslides which buried hundreds of people, but the country did not falter. Rescue workers quickly swooped to the scene, and repair work began shortly after. Today, the facilities (roads/bridges) have all been improveed and repaired since that fateful day in 2009, and work has already begun to construct another village to house the displaced villagers from the flattened villages.
    1. How does science and technology impact the Taiwanese lifestyle?
    -With the improvements in science and technology, the daily lives of most Taiwanese people have greatly improved over the years. An example would be the earthquake-proofing of many buildings all over the island itself has prevented many more deaths from happening. The introduction of alternate sources of energy other than coal has also reduced the CO2 emissions of the country and boosted the availability of electricity across the nation, with the most famous being its 3rd Nuclear Power station and various wind farms littered along the coastline. The introduction of earthquake early warning systems is also another key in which proves that the combination of science and technology has had a positive impact on the lives of the Taiwanese.
    1. What is the importance of science education in relation to the technological/economical progress of a country? Explain.
    -Science education is extremely crucial in relation to the progress of a country, especially for technological advances and breakthroughs. This is because we need to prevent the misinformation of some ignorant individuals to influence over the masses and eventually negatively impact the possible progress in the field. A classical example would be on nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is an extremely efficient and clean source of energy production for it does not produce any emissions at all, save for hot water discharges from the cooling pipes. The topic of the use of nuclear energy is still a controversial topic even till this day due to fears that a nuclear power plant is literally a ticking time bomb, ready to explode without a moment’s notice. This is untrue, for nuclear power plants are built with a large number of fail proof safety devices which makes the chance of the next Chernobyl-levels of catastrophe next to zero.

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