Day 4, Paragliding

One of the most anticipated activities is paragliding. None of us did it before, we were all very excited, yet scared. And, not understanding coach’s Chinese didn’t help much. We asked Wei to translate every single word into English, very afraid of missing any safety rule. The coach said, when you run, run with full speed, don’t stop, even if you were at the edge of the cliff, continue running. It is with this kind of desperate determination the umbrella would have enough buoyancy to fly up. However, my question is, what if the umbrella didn’t fly, wouldn’t I fall and die? Ah…I guess, who cares, just run.

Coaches were all very experienced. When assisted in running. One screamed behind me and one pulled the line in front of me, yelling, “run run run”. My brain was completely blank when they were yelling at me, run run run. All I did was run like Forest Gump, no fear, till I jump off the cliff. The moment the umbrella opened up in the sky, my feet were still running in the air. That moment of losing gravity, only one word can explain it ‘ awesome’. I remember I was screaming ‘AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH’ the whole time in the air.

Taiwan’s mountain line and coastal line are formed by thousand years of squeeze motion between Eurasian plate and Philippine plate. In between the 2 mountains is the beautiful Hua Tung rift valley. This is one of the longest longitudinal valley in the word. And because the 2 mountains serve as the natural wind barrier, the place becomes the best place for paragliding and hot air balloon. And to view the magnificent Hua Tung rift valley, nothing beats paragliding, which allows you to see from bird’s view.

Hua Tung rift valley also produces the champion rice. From Japanese’s colonial period, rice from Hua Tung were for the emperor only. Until today, Chi Shang rice is still the best option for gift to friends. This afternoon, we were at the Chi Shang rice field, ride tandem bicycle in the yellow green rice wave. It was supposed to be a relaxing ride, but it ended with bicycle competition, chasing each other. I was so exhausted that I stopped by a tree where free tea was served. Serving free tea is commonly seen in the countryside in Taiwan. Farmers placed a pot of tea for thirsty passers-by to drink and rest. The unique Taiwanese warm and thoughtfulness is seen in this pot of tea.

Lu Yeh has many good tea plantations. We went to Hsin Yuan Chan, one of the best tea factories in the early time. We witnessed the tea production process. The fresh leave smells like grass. After the process of ‘rubbing tea’ and ‘drying tea, the flavor has 180 degree transformation – it becomes the tea we are familiar with. Third generation owner brewed a cup of champion tea for us. In the tea fragrant, he shared with us his family, from west coast to east coast, Taitung 50 years ago. They witnessed the tea industry’s up and down, from the 80’s glory, to low cost competition from India and China. They are eager in transforming the traditional business, continue to improve the process so not to be eliminated by the changes. Now, many global clients are coming back to buy tea from them. We witnessed their persistence in quality tea, and Taiwanese’s perseverance. When we left, we all bought a bag of good tea, to share with our friends in Boston.

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