Here is a massive update from Taiwan:
Stayed in Taipei for the weekend but had to cut short my trip since my professor scheduled a last minute test for this Tuesday. So I went back alone while my friends stayed another day. I ordinarily wouldn't care but this professor is easily the worst teacher I've had in all my years of schooling, and this is coming from someone who never complains about teachers.
Please leave feedback and post comments. This is actually the first place I'm posting these photos. They'll be posted on my blog soon too so I'd love if you could check that out! I'm uploading via the TPR server this time and I swear to god this better work because I just spent more than 30 minutes doing all this..
My two cents on Taiwan: I enjoyed it MUCH more than anywhere in China so far, and I was only here for 2 days! By western standards, the city is pretty densely populated even though the population is only like 3 million. But you actually have personal space compared to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, etc. The people very incredibly friendly - all of them, the random people on the streets, the small shop owners, everyone. Also much more orderly compared to the mainland...
Anyway, we did lots of touristy stuff on day 1 - chiang kai-shek memorial hall, taipei 101, etc. Highlight of the day: dropping my entire camera setup and really expensive lens onto the sidewalk in the rain because Nikon's camera straps are s***. My camera is in perfect condition, but the lens filter got impacted on the fall and it basically stuck on my lens. I wouldn't care except that moisture got trapped in there and it got really foggy. This was my best lens (and most practical one too) so for most of the night I couldn't get usable pictures of Taipei 101. Anyway, lens was fine next day but I'm getting the camera and lens serviced by Nikon soon to be sure
day 2 we went to Wulai village during the day. It's a really beautiful and scenic village in the mountains along a river. We went to a hot spring as well, and all I'll say is...it was a nude experience. That night we went to Shilin Night Market, which was really cool at chaotic. The food was AMAZING. Not bragging, but I think I'm definitely improving my picture-taking skills. I'm cutting down on how many pictures I take and a bigger percentage of them turn out to be keepers now