Sunday, September 7, 2008

Love, Love, Love

If any of you are actually regular readers, I apologize for the lack of updates over the past week. I'd like to believe it's because I haven't had much time between starting school, developing the English Village, and going to Taipei for the Fulbright Orientation, but in reality, I've been M.I.A because I've been addicted to a Taiwanese soap opera called Meteor Garden. It's about an ordinary girl who becomes the love interest of the leader of a wealthy, handsome gang called F4 who is, incidentally, the wealthiest and most handsome of the lot.

Before I started watching this soap opera, the Taiwanese attitude towards love more or less totally freaked me out. It was like being stuck in a Disney movie--people are obsessed with romance and dating here, it seems. A teacher once told me (totally unprompted) that Lotus Lake, a local Kaohsiung attraction--is a good place to hold hands and walk together. Another teacher seems obsessed with setting up the female ETAs with the various "handsome, single men" who work at her school. Dr. Wu, the Taiwanese Fulbright director, can't stop pointing out how many Fulbrighters stay because they meet someone they love, and emphasizing his excellent matchmaking skills. The main tourist attraction of Kaohsiung is called the Love River, where you can take a boat tour on a pontoon boat decorated in light-up-hearts. The River is decorated with Christmas lights, so that you can take walks and enjoy the scenery, especially when holding hands with your sweetie while wearing matching couple t-shirts and sneakers. I've seen lots and lots (and lots and lots) of matching couple outfits. To make a long story short, the whole thing used to make me borderline nauseous until I started watching Meteor Garden. No joke.

And, on the topic of love, I'd like to point out that the Fulbright Foundation put us in a love hotel for this weekend's conference in Taipei. What is a love hotel, you might ask? Well, in many Asian countries, young people live with their parents even after they've graduated from school and started their first jobs. I've even heard that people live with their parents after they've been married because real estate is so hard to come by and expensive. At any rate, young couples who live with their parents will go to love hotels (which are cheaper than normal hotels) when they need to *ahem* do their business.

I'd heard bizarre things about love hotels--apparently in Korea, some love hotels have sex toy vending machines--and so I've always been curious but too bashful to see one for myself. Little did I know that the Fulbright Foundation would provide this opportunity for me!

This is the condom that I found on my bed when I walked in, all wrapped up and ready for me to use!

This is the giant (and I mean GIANT) mirror at the end of my bed! If you look carefully, you can kind of make out the stage behind the bed!

I also tried to take photos of the giant bathroom with glass walls, but it didn't really turn out on my camera. The point is, I was pretty amused by the whole thing, and my room was pretty tame compared to other people's rooms. Katie definite had a jacuzzi with jets in her room. Another Fulbrighter had a heart-shaped bathtub. All-in-all, the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan) deserves a two-thumbs up, five-heart rating from me for making my life that much more amusing.

And if you get bored, I suggest typing F4 into youtube. Apparently the soap opera stars were so popular that they were able to also become a popular singing group. The videos send me into a fit of laughter--I wish the same for you!

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