Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Moon Festival!

Yesterday was the Mid-Autumn Festival, commonly known as the Moon Festival! In Taiwan, this is manifested in BBQs, fireworks, moon-gazing, well wishes, and the eating of delicious pastries called moon cakes. For Boje and myself, it also means an awesome long weekend of eating delicious Taiwanese snacks, napping, and waddling around Taichung checking out some of the sights near our apartment.

The history of the Moon Festival is confusing because there are lots of different versions, but it involves a Jade Emperor, a foolish woman (typical patriarchal lore!) and a mythical rabbit. And, of course, the moon! Everyone in Taiwan gets together with family and friends, throws some skewered foods on a grill (usually a grate over some charcoal) and munches on BBQ, moon cakes, and pomelo under the full moon. Boje and I don’t have a grill, but we are lucky enough to have Taiwanese employers and coworkers who supplied us with pomelo as well as moon cakes filled with various fillings like candied pineapple, sweetened egg yolk, and whipped cream with red bean paste. (The cream and red bean is my favourite!) I was also stopped by the girls who work the front desk in our apartment building on Friday - “Moon cakes for you. And for your... is he boyfriend? Please give to him!” So cute.

Actually, the girls downstairs gave us more moon cakes yesterday as we were on our way out the door for our Mid-Autumn Festival mid-afternoon walk. One of them speaks excellent English, and the other is very friendly as well.

C: Ni hao! We have moon cakes for you!
Brett: Wow, thanks!
Amanda: Thanks so much, but you gave us some yesterday, remember?
C: Here, have more! You are so cute!

I don’t know if these moon cakes were given to us because we’re cute or if we’re cute because we were so naive as to think we’d only receive one package, but I like the way those girls think.

After our awesome exchange with the girls, we headed out on our walk. The previous day, Saturday, was when Brett had met me at my branch. This time we decided to walk in the opposite direction towards Brett’s branch so I could see what he passes every day on his way to work. Our first stop - the kittens! B often calls me while we’re walking home from our respective branches to chat about our days and kill time on the commute. Some days he stops mid-sentence to shriek “KITTENS!” and now I know why! Two adorable little strays hang out in the same spot on his route almost every day, and they are so so so sweet! I wanted to take them home and protect them and love them and cuddle them, but was reminded that they are feral. Apparently a local shopkeeper leaves out dishes of food for them as well, so I felt a bit better.

After the kittens, we reached Brett’s branch. That was exciting for about two seconds, so we crossed a pedestrian bridge over to a park nearby. While on the bridge, Boje spotted (and photographed) an amazing sight... a skewered whole pig laying spread-eagle in the back of a truck! I love Taiwan.

The park was pretty neat, and some workers were setting up for a big outdoor concert. I was more interested in what lay on the other side of the park - the HuiWen Flower Market. It seemed to be a pretty chill day, but there were still plenty of potted plants, cut flowers, and fruit available as well as several stalls selling artwork and antiques! We didn’t buy anything as I want to research what will thrive best in the harsh, air-conditioned climate of my apartment. I’m already excited to go back!

We really enjoyed the Moon Festival, and we were able to use our extra time off today to completely plan all our lessons for the week. We also used this weekend to organize some storage space and to catch up on Skype with lots of lovely people. Happy Moon Festival!

This little piggy went to... a bbq
We never would have known the contents of the truck were we not on the foot bridge at the time.
Cream and red bean filling moon cake

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