Yay – I finally made it to 20 years old! Here in Taiwan, I’m now considered to actually be an adult, meaning that I can open bank and credit card accounts, and sign contracts on my own! I feel so old…😉
On Monday, the day before my birthday, I celebrated by going with a bunch of people I know to this mountain called Yangmingshan (陽明山). It’s actually a range of inactive volcanoes, located within a National Park.
Yangmingshan National Park is located in northern Taipei City. It spans about 114 sq. KM (about 44 sq. miles), has numerous parks, hiking trails, interesting plants and wildlife, and the internationally famous hot springs. There are many different subtropical and warm temperate climate zones found within the 200 meter to 1200 meter (about 650 to 4000 ft.) range in elevation that can be found within the park.
Given that the area is rich in sulfur, many mines were previously operated in the area. They have since be shut down due to environmental effects. There are many hot springs in the area now.
Each season in the park is known for its different type of beauty – February and March are the flowering season, and rhododendrons and cherry blossoms cover the mountain slopes, Summer brings winds from the southwest with occasional showers and thunder in the afternoon, creating amazing weather effects in the mountains, in October, the mountains are covered with silver grass and the golden red color of maple leaves, with frequent rainbows showing up after the misty autumn rains, and with the winter months come monsoons, which bring a cold drizzle that create magnificent formations of clouds…even with the chance of snow.
Okay, so back to my birthday celebration…including myself, there was a total of 13 people who were able to come, about 1/2 to 3/4 of which were church members from various locations in Taiwan. There’s this super amazing mom named Summer, who planned everything out for me, and even brought a cake for me too. In addition, she was the person from the farthest away…at least an hour by car. She also brought one of her sons with her!
On Wednesday, our Ward Mission Leader, 陳明志, took us out to this ramen noodle place by his house. The cool thing about the restaurant is that once you buy the ramen noodle soup, the noodles are all you can eat. I think the record in that store for the most noodles eaten was 9 somethings (I’m not really sure how to describe it in English. I guess you could just say servings or dishes?). The most in all of the stores was 12…and it was apparently accomplished by a woman!
Anyways, I ate the most out of all of us there, and it was only 6 dishes of noodles. On the bright side though, my name is now on the wall of the restaurant, and with the help of the mission leader, my picture is now in all the social media groups of our ward…(Mom is so proud! 😉)
One our friends that’s been coming to church with us for a while now, just took the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) on Saturday. His English is pretty good, and he hopes to go to the US for his Masters Degree. He found out about BYU, and now wants to go there! Two days before his test, we fasted with him with the purpose of his test going well. As a result, he thinks he didn’t too bad on the test – he has to wait for the results, but he thought it went pretty well!
Another fun fact is that my birthday is also my 6 months remaining mark. The last day of my last transfer is November 30th, so as of last Tuesday, I only have 6 months left! I keep hearing about how time goes by a lot quicker, but I haven’t really noticed that yet. After this transfer finishes (June 15th), I only have 4 more transfers left…which means that I’ll move places at least one more time between now and the end of the year. I do hope it’s only once though…I don’t like moving…
– Elder Austin Simonson