Monday, May 23, 2011

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles!

 Our last couple days in Vietnam were awesome! We had a show in a theater at a Theme park called Bao Son Paradise. We stayed in the hotel that is located at the park site. On Sunday we went to church with the saints there. When we first walked in, one of the members said, "where is Jeremy Pendleton?" We were kind of surprised that he knew who he was because we had never met him before. It turned out there was a lady there from Taiwan who had been working in Vietnam for over a year, she traveled an hour and a half each way to get to church every Sunday but they had no Chinese translator so she was never able to understand church. Jer translated for her for the whole 3 hour block! It was so special because after church, she told us that it happened to be her birthday that day and that she believe Heavenly Father had sent her a wonderful birthday gift by sending Jer to help her finally understand church. Here we are with sister Cai.
 I'm not gonna lie, when we got to Hanoi, Vietnam, I struggled with the food a bit. The city is not very developed and we were not staying in a place where we could go get snacks or anything if we didn't like the food. On Sunday, the ward paid for us to go to a DELICIOUS hot pot restaurant. We all pretty much pigged out for lack of a better description. Hot pot is when you have your own little fondue type pot with broth in it and you pick your noodles, meat, vegetables and cook it yourself. They also had little desserts which was a rarity on this trip so we were loving it!
 On our last day, we visited the "hanoi hilton" as we Americans would call it. It is the prison that many American soldiers were held in during the Vietnam war. John McCain was held there for 7 years.
 After the museum, Jer and I broke from the group and left for the airport to head to TAIWAN! :o) The coolest part about it was after we were all checked in, they chose to upgrade us to business class for our flight! We decided to do a documentary of the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" ;o).
First, they gave us fresh wash cloths.

 Then we enjoyed a beverage of our choice.
 We even got a special 3-course meal. It also didn't hurt that we had awesome leg room.
 It was finally time to land and Jer was beside himself with excitement! We were finally visiting his home away from home!
 The first morning we were there, Jer introduced me to the wonderful world of Taiwanese breakfast. This day we had Dan Bing which is like a crepe with egg, cheese and bacon and yummy sauce. They also have sweet soymilk which Jer loves but I didn't dig so much.
 After going to the temple, we took the train to Hualien. Jer served here for 6 months! This is Romen and his family. Romen was one of Jer's investigators. They are so fun and generous.
 When we arrived in Hualien, Wang Mama and Dad picked us up from the train station. These two are Jer's Taiwanese parents. They are so sweet and I could tell they truly love him like a son. They took us to lunch and we ate this fried rice wrapped in egg meal that Jer loved while on his mission.
 It was raining when we got there so we couldn't do a lot of sight seeing that day but we stopped at a cool Buddhist temple close to the Wang's house.
 This is their cute little dog Pan Pan.
 While visiting with Romen he got us a dessert that is basically like sweet milky water with tofu, wheat, or red beans in it. It was pretty interesting but I actually kind of liked the wheat one.
 The next breakfast adventure was delicious too! It is called Mantou and is a steamed bun with egg, bacon, cheese and sauce. Pretty much the same ingredients as the first breakfast but with a delicious steamed bun.
Doesn't it look delish? You can see the bracelet I am wearing in this picture, Wang mama got it for me and gave it to me the first day we were there along with a beautiful scarf she made. The bracelet is jade and I had wanted to get one the whole trip and had refrained, it was like she already knew me!
The next day, after many prayers, the rain stopped! What a blessing because we were able to go see some of the sights that Jer had wanted me to see. This is just one example of how beautiful and lush Taiwan is. It is so green! Especially in Hualien

 We drove up to Thai Luge Gorge and looked at the beautiful view. There were some trails we wanted to walk on but because of the rain, there had been some rock falls so they wouldn't let us walk on the trails.
 We did get to walk on a different trail up to a cool temple. Here is one of the caves we walked through.

 Here we are at 7 star beach. It has that name because there used to be 7 lakes along the shore.

 We also visited the place where many of the aboriginese people used to live. There are 9 aboriginese tribes in Taiwan.
 Here we are with the Wang family. We loved being with them and staying in their home, Wang mom is so funny and so sweet. They took us to a movie the first night we were there and she cooked a wonderful meal for us.
 Romen took all of us to a country club type place where they had a hot tub that was pumped full of hot spring water. They wouldn't let anyone get in unless that had a swim cap on. Here is Jer making is most nerdy face.
 This was one of my favorite treats we had in Taiwan. It is called a bing sha and is basically just fresh fruit blended up. Mmmm Mmm! My favorite combo was pineapple, kiwi and apple.
 We got our drinks from this lady's stand where Jer was a regular while in Hualien.
 Our next stop was Luo Dong to visit Spring! He is such a wonderful man and he knows a lot of English so it was fun because I could actually talk with him! He was one of Jer's investigators that they worked with for 7 months and finally got baptized a week before Jer went home.
 We went to this cool botanical garden and took a mini hike.
 I thought these little cows were so cute!
 Here I am with Spring.
 After our hike, Spring drove us to Ylan where we met up with some other members. When Jer left to go home from his mission he gave some of his belongings to members. One of which was his bike! We got to visit his old bike from his mission at Ben's house.
 I remember him writing me and telling me that all the missionaries spray paint their bikes in order to make them look bad so people don't steal them. Jer painted his pink and green because those are my favorite colors. :o)
 After the bike visit, sister Jang (back left) took all of us out to a nice hot pot restaurant. We stayed with sister Jang on this night. Ben and his wife are on the left.
 Sister Jang's house was one of the nicest ones I saw in Asia. She gave us the whole top floor to use while we were staying there. I took some pictures because I thought it was amazing she decorated the whole house herself and it was beautiful!

 The TV lounge where Jer finally got to watch some basketball.
 That evening we visited the night market. Asia really rubbed off on me. What do you think about the new do? Just kidding, its only a wig but Jer and I thought I looked just like my sister Katie.
 Here's the whole group outside a park in Luo Dong.
Jer was dying to ride a scooter our whole trip so sister Jang let Jer take hers for a spin.
 The next day we traveled to Daxi with Ben, his wife and Rusty. We went up to a this cool market at the top of a mountain. It had a beautiful view.
 There were lots of cute cats wandering around. This one reminded me of my cat Tommy I used to have and I had to take a picture.
 Another shot of the gorgeous view.
 We went and visited Brother Wu at his home. Jer baptized him at the beginning of his mission. His conversion story is quite amazing because his life really made a 360 degree turn.
 After our visit with Brother Wu, we went to a baptismal service. When we were there, we saw a boy from Jer's hometown who had come over a couple months before to talk with Jer about Taiwan because he was leaving soon for his mission there. It was a pleasant surprise!
 Here we are with all the members in Daxi.
 On our last day in Taiwan we were in Taipei. We stayed in the temple apartments again and did a session in the morning. Here we are in front of the temple.
 After the temple, we hooked up with a Taiwanese missionary that served in the same district as Jer named Warner. We visited the Chiang Kai Shek memorial building.

 Here is the view from the top of the Taipei 101 building. It was 89 stories high and the elevator is the fastest in the world, taking us to the top in 30 seconds!
 These are called damper babies. Not sure why they are there but they are cute!
 Jer doing his damper baby pose. Behind him is the big damper which is a weight that helps the building not fall down or sway due to intense weather.
 We would love to say we took this picture but we didn't, its a photograph of the Taipei 101 building at night. It towers over the whole city!
 After a fun day of sight seeing we needed Cold Stone. It was SO delicious. I can't even tell you. I was trying to make a happy face without opening my mouth because it was full of ice cream.
 Here is a photo of my feelings after the ice cream experience. Its amazing how good something can be if you haven't had it for a while.
The next morning we got up early and left for the airport to go home to the good old U.S. of A! Jer got one last Supau (a type of sports drink that he loves) for the road.

And that is the end of our crazy adventure in Asia. A month is a long time to travel but each moment was amazing and we saw so many new and interesting things. This trip will never be forgotten and will be cherished for the rest of our lives as a once in a lifetime opportunity!