3 Countries, 2 Months and 1 iPhone

3 Countries, 2 Months and 1 iPhone

Pt. I - Taiwan
Esther W
Esther W
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TLDR; This past summer I had the privilege of bringing my boyfriend back to two of my home countries and discovering a new one with him. We went to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore and had so much fun! The only regret I had was not using my Canon camera more often, it was hot and humid and I just didn't feel like carrying a clunky camera around and sweating on it. All photos were captured on an iPhone 6. Travel is pretty trendy now, and I'm just lucky that its a frequent part of my life.

Taiwan

Just so you know Taiwan has incredible food. Asia in general has an amazing palette but Taiwanese food holds a special place in my heart. The photo below has a bunch of great plates that are a combination of traditional and innovative. Here we have a oyster omelet, sweet plum fried chicken, teppanyaki tofu, stewed beef and veggies, and sautéed eggplants with garlic and spice.

This is a traditional Hakka (native) dish that uses sweet potatoes dough to wrap pork, wok-fried vegetables and peanut powder. The raw dumplings wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over the fire. The results is a wonderfully gooey dumpling with sweet and savory goodness.

Love One was constructed about two months before I left Taiwan for my second year of college, so I didn't have the chance to try it until this past summer. This restaurant is Great Gatsby themed, and fuses western and Asian cuisines. The dish I loved was a beef stew risotto that used Taiwanese cooking techniques and flavors.

Discovering new quirks in familiar places is my favorite. This rock is called 花瓶石民宿 and is shaped like the continent of Africa. It is located on the island of 小琉球. We explored the entire island and had a lot of fun riding around on rental mopeds.

Trekking through the interesting coves of 小琉球 where soldiers hid from their enemies (I don't recall which war or which soldier, pardon me).

I have never thought of myself as an island girl, but I really am. Kenting is a popular tourist spot and is comprised of several beaches, bed and breakfasts, and the strip. The Kenting strip is basically one long street that comes alive at night as a night market. Street food everywhere, cheap souvenirs, and plenty of carnival games where you can win a stuffed animal.

This is the Gaomei Wetlands in southern Taiwan. The beach is always covered with a thin layer of refreshing sea water and there are tiny crabs that will nip you if you step on them. Between the squishy sand and cool water we basically had a free spa session.

Rainbow Village was originally the size of a small town, but consequently diminished after the government claimed the land for redevelopment. A veteran named Huang Yung-Fu decided to literally 'paint the town' in order to preserve it after several of his fellow military comrades moved away to better housing. He hoped that his artistic talent would attract the attention of Taiwan and save his village. The population has diminished to about ten individuals who stand by their homes, and after a campaign the government decide to preserve the houses left standing as a cultural area.

Sun Moon Lake is another tourist attraction that proudly hosts the Thao tribe and several stops via boat tour. It is the largest body of water in Taiwan and can be enjoyed by cable care, boat, or if you're really a feeling it - a hike.

The National Palace Museum is full of artifacts and history. It is THE museum of Taiwan and holds decades of history. We weren't allowed to take any photos inside but the Jade Cabbage and Meat-shaped Stone is worth a Google search.

What you don't see in these photos is the sweat and suffocating heat that was present the entire time. Regardless of the weather, I had so much fun showing this guy around!

Teehee.

Cover Image Credit: Esther W Photography

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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What's Happening In China?

The Chinese government stands accused of rounding up Chinese Muslims and holding them without trial and against their will.

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Recently, NowThis news source released a video of an advocate by the name of Aydin Anwar speaking about the current state of East Turkestan. She discussed how people were being taken from their homes, their lives, and forced into "concentration camps" (her words specifically). She alleges that inside these camps, people are being tortured and forced to denounce God and their own identities and religions and then to pledge loyalty to the Chinese president, government, and country. She even says that one of her own relatives was sent to a camp and was killed there.

This video spread around the internet pretty rapidly circulated this information with the video having over 19 million views on Facebook. I decided to do some digging into this. If what Anwar alleges is true, it closely resembles actions taken by Chechnya to purge their LGBT population back in 2017 and even actions were taken against the many millions who were affected by the Holocaust. Here is what I have found so far:

The government has denied any concentration or internment camps. They claim that people are at special schools to combat the rise of religious violence and extremism. Despite this claim, BBC reporters have published an aerial image of an alleged concentration camp in the desert this past April (2018) that was not present in July of 2015. Another aerial image taken in October 2018 shows the alleged concentration camp has grown in size since April.

Inside these concentration camps, as outlined earlier, the Chinese government is carrying out acts of psychological and physical torture. It is alleged that the guards and interrogators inside the camps are pulling out nails and teeth as forms of torture to counteract any "bad behavior" or "resistance". It is also alleged that victims are tied down in chairs and left in solitary confinement. Snakes are used during interrogations as well. Victims inside the concentration camps allegedly stand chanting things like "there is no God" or "all hail the Chinese state" for hours on end. It has even been alleged that people inside the concentration camps are being sterilized (this is a practice used in genocide to destroy the possibility of any future offspring from the affected group of people).

But, you may be thinking, if this is true, WHY hasn't anyone in a position of power done anything? There are a few different answers to this question: The first is that China is extremely good at regulating what their media can and cannot post. This means any news of the concentration camps generated within the country itself would immediately be shut down before even reaching the post. Also, China has close ties with strong countries and could be suing its political and economic (specifically its economic) power to put pressure on the rest of the world not to say anything. Think about it, many products come with a little tag that says "made in China". This gives China the power and connections to shut down production of goods. In an economic world such as this, production means power.

However, YOU can do something. You can dig around for more information and raise awareness for such atrocities. Here are a few links to get you started:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/China_...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/china-is-c...

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