Saturday, February 12, 2005

Going to visit my father in law's parents in the village

On the third day of Chinese New Year we went back to the village where my father in law's parents still live. I think this suppose to be for the first day or something but because there is a bit of emergency with my only niece we change the date into today. My niece come down with a very bad flu that she were in the verge of being sent to the hospital. But at the end they decide to keep her home. If she is not sick, today would be such a great trip because that means all of us are going together. Instead today only my parent in laws, my parents, and my own family are going. We drive 2 cars. The parents stay in one car and my own family in another car. For 3 hrs drive this is become a 6 hrs drive on the way there and 8 hrs drive to go back to Taipei. It turn out to be the worst driving condition in 10 yrs of Taiwan's history ! We were bumper to bumper all the way there and back ! This is not because the highway is too small. They are as big as California's highways and they have several very large resting area to looks more like a mall ! The problem is just because everybody happens to travel at the same time following the Chinese new year rule on who you have to visit today ! I guess if you want to show that you are a good son/daughter to your family then you just have to endure the trafiic ! We start from home at 9 AM and only arrive there around 3.30 PM. Then we return home from 8 PM and arrived home at 4.30 AM approximately. My father in law fell asleep twice driving on the highway while crawling back to Taipei at 20 mph. But for me, who is not driving mind you, this is all worth it when you see how much joy is my grandparent in laws' faces when they see my son for the first time. To them my son existence is so important ( I just realize it then ) because they only have one son which is my father in law in their family. Again, daughters are not counted into this equation, they have 5 daugthers. Then as the oldest son of my father in law, my husband play an important role as well. And then my son as the only son ( so far ) of my husband. Here is the 4 men in Wu's family. 4 men to carry the family name. I took a picture of these men. It would be an even better picture if 2 of my brother in laws can come as well. My grandparent in law still live in their family home that has a distinctive architecture base on Chinese achitecture. The house is upside down U-shape. The part that facing you are design to be an honorary place for worshiping your anchestors. So in that room, they put the best furniture to display all of your ancestor ashes and stuff together with the stature of which god they pray to. Then right on your right hand side there is a door connecting to the man of the house's bedroom in this case my grandfather in law's. To the left also there is another door into his sister's bedroom. Since her husband pass away long time ago, she still live with him. I can't describe to you about her part of the house. I can only describe my grandfather' side. If you think of the shape of the house, the U-shape, on your right side which is the leg of the upside down U-shape. That part is divided into several room. Right after my grandparents' room, there is a dining area, then the kitchen, then a bathroom and family room where they watch TV, then an extra bedroom, then another bathroom that now being converted into a laundry room. All of these room are very small and the ceiling is very low which is strange because my grandparent in laws are tall and their children and later grand children are all pretty tall people. In fact I met my husband 4 cousins. 2 boys and 2 girls, the shortest one, which is the girl is 175cm ! I feel like a dwarf next to them. My father in law is 177cm and I think if my mother in law is not too short ( she is only 150 cm ) my husband will be taller. If you think the house is so traditionally chinese, wait till you try to sleep on their bed. It's pure kung-fu bedtime ! The bed has no mattress, instead just a thick layers of blanket. The blanket itself is so chinese because inside they maybe have cotton but the cover is red silk with embroidery. Luckily the pillow is not the old fashion one which is wood, but the blanket is again very thick and very very heavy. If you sleep facing up and you are covered by this blanket, you hardly can breath ! They weight a ton ! Again they are made by silk with embroidery. You won't be able to move around when you sleep under this blanket. No wonder in those kung-fu movie they never move around when they sleep. They always looks like they are dead ! I experience this myself in 1996 when I slept there for a night. Boy.. I woke up feeling like I can do kung-fu chops on anybody ! That is after you are able to stand up after sleeping on a hard surface all night long off course. The bathroom has a wooden tub just like in those Chinese kung fu movie too ! But luckily this is Taiwan after all, so they have a nonstop supply of hot water when you need it. Since my grandparents used to be farmers, they still plant their own vegetables in their yard. They rented their rice field now since they are too old to farm. They also sells their cows , chickens, and pigs. They live by that renting money now. So everytime my grandmother wants to cook, she just went to her yard, cut some veggies and cook them right away. They always taste so sweet. In fact because of their sweet vegetables they inspire me to love gardening as well. Every summer I always plants as many vegetables and herbs as I can. They make me love growing and eating my own vegetables. Summer is my favorite season. Later we went back to Taipei ladden with broccoli, sweet corns, green onions, cabbages, tomatoes etc. All organic. Too bad this time they don't have peanuts. I love their peanuts , so big and sweet. When I enter their home, the first thing they show me is all those pictures of my son that I took. I did not know that my father in law gives them some. They proudly display them on their table so they can see my son pictures everyday ! For someone who loves photography like me, this is truly the best praise I received so far. So I took many picture of my son interact with them a lot. They are still very healthy but I don't know when can I seem them again. So I am going to use this opportunity to the fullest. I will documented them . Since my grandmom is too old, she only can serve fresh fruits and cake, But that's ok with us since we have a great time of feeling like we are going back in time to that old chinese time again. My father is so impress with everything he see that he went to every room poking and turn everything ! My son receive his red envelop again today from his great grandparents. But that hardly the main reason why he wants to visit here again. My grandparents loves my son very much. I can just see it in their eyes. My grandmother cried when we have to return to Taipei again. It really breaks my heart to see her cry softly because she is such a gentle grandmother. From their home we went to visit my father in law's oldest sister. She lives nearby. She sew and sells food and some daily things that people need like soaps, daipers, etc. Since they do not know about our visit they have nothing to serve so they took us to a nearby restaurant. We are pretty hungry by now so we just eat everything that she ordered for us. When we were back in the car to go home, my husband finally explain what exactly that I just ate. Beside the normal fish ball soup and noodle soup. She order 2 side dishes. They are the normal pig stuff and pig's vagina !!!! Oh man........ ;( I guess I should my count myself lucky that she did not order the pig penis dish..... :( I would rather eat in the rest area. They serve great food there. No delicacies !

See how crowded the rest area? This place is so huge like a decent size mall in US/Canada. Jammed with cars and people. But Taiwanese government really build everything oversize. I think in the woman washroom they have 30 toilet stalls alone to make sure that there won't be a long line ! They have also for handicaps and nursery rooms. Groceries, souvenirs, restaurants, outdoor and indoor playground, video archade, you name it. This is my parents first time to ever see Taiwanese' rest area, they thought how odd that my father in law take them to the mall first on the way to the village. Posted by Hello

We decide to eat this type of food where you pick the ingredients first. I count more than 20 different type of tofus are being offered. They taste great. Posted by Hello

After choosing what do you want to eat, then you go to the cashier to be weighted and pay. Posted by Hello

Then this man will cook your chosen ingredients in this stove. Later he will add some more sauce on top of your food. You can always add chili if you want. Posted by Hello

Get in the highway's tol. The governement already anticipated that today the traffic will be bad so for 6 hrs we don't have to pay , so that way the car can just speed by. Lessening the traffic jam. Smart move. Posted by Hello

Get out from the toll booth . You can see how wide is Taiwanese highway system is. Hardly a reason on why later on this whole place will be packed with the worst traffic history in Taiwan in 10 yrs with 2.7 millions of people are all travelling at the same time ! Posted by Hello

The highway in this middle of Taiwan looks like the one in California with the difference of there are more trees here. This area is always sunny also. Posted by Hello

Stop at another rest area. Posted by Hello

Pretty wide area just for standing outside the washrooms ! Posted by Hello

Kai Kai meets his aunts and uncles. All tall. The girl in a black sweater is the distric manager of Starbuck in Taipei City and she is still so young. We got some free Starbuck coupons from her ! Posted by Hello

Kai Kai meet his great grandparents for the first time. See how happy is his great grandparents to finally able to see him face to face instead of just gazing at his photos everyday. They finally able to meet with the last link to Wu's family tree. Future generation. Posted by Hello

The guy on the right side is a PhD from Tokyo University. Very smart guy and he finance his education himself since he was only 15 yrs old. He got his PhD when he was 25 yrs old. He is 31 yrs old now. His girlfriend is on the left side. Both of them are very soft spoken and polite. His youngest brother is the big guy with glasses. I think he is 185 cm easily. Kai Kai likes talking to him because they can speaks English pretty good. Posted by Hello

This is the kitchen. See how low is the ceiling. My father is so curious to learn everything about this old fashion home in Taiwan. Posted by Hello

Behind my son is the place where they used to keep their pigs. My husband said that when he was small he likes to give the pigs a shower with a hose. Posted by Hello

My family in Taiwan. Compare to my father in law's family, my mother in law is really tiny. Even my grandma in law is much taller than her and she doesn't wear high heels like her. Posted by Hello

Kai Kai always ready to smile at the camera. A real pro. Posted by Hello

4 generations of Wu's men. Posted by Hello

My father is still not finish with exploring this house. This is the great room where they worship their gods and their ancestors. The nicest room of this house. Connected to this room is my grandparents' bedroom on the right and his sister's room on the left. I am not sure about the room behind that metal door. Posted by Hello
My grandparents' home. The right side belong to my grandpa, the middle one there is the great room for anchestors and gods. The left area is my grand aunt's home. The middle concrete is for drying peanuts, corns etc. Normally they never been left empty like today. Posted by Hello

More Ang Pao from great grandparents. Posted by Hello

Say xie xie for the ang pao then kiss great grandma. Posted by Hello

Again, say xie xie then kiss great grandpa. Posted by Hello

"This cake is for you Kai Kai. Bring it back to Taipei with you and enjoy." ..... Posted by Hello

When the great grandparents saw how much KK loves their fruits they are so happy that they want to wrap everything for Kai Kai to take them back to Taipei ! Posted by Hello

Kai Kai loves to cuddle with his family even the one that he just met. You can just tell how much of this makes his great grandma so happy. Posted by Hello

Typical of people who lives in the village, they will give you everything they have in their garden to bring home. Very generous. Actually we were confuse that how come this hard soil can produce healthy vegetables. My father even joke that how come they can grow veggies on concrete. Behind my grandma was the place for her cows. Posted by Hello

Great grandaunt gives Kai Kai a ride in her electric scooter to pick up more fresh veggie in this case broccoli when she heard that broccoli is Kai Kai's favorite vegetable. Posted by Hello

Family potrait together in front of the ancestors' room. Grand aunt especially insist on opening the door of the ancestor room. Maybe to include them together in the future of their descendants. Posted by Hello

Kai Kai is so loved by his great grandaunt who is still very strong and healthy. Posted by Hello

Kai Kai posing with his uncle and aunt. They are the grandchildren of my grandaunt. Posted by Hello

From grandparents home, we went to my father in law oldest sister's home in the same village. That is her husband on the right side and her oldest daughter next to him who come to visit from Taipei where she lives. Posted by Hello

Having dinner together at nearby restaurant. The food cost half of what we paid in Taipei. Posted by Hello

Kai Kai stop his cousin bike for a photo shoot when he saw me ready with my camera. A real pro at being a model for his mama. Posted by Hello

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