Travel & Culture

Annual Family Vacation in Yilan

Last weekend, my family and I took a road trip east to Yilan 宜蘭 for vacation. It was our long awaited family vacation with my dad’s side of the family for two days, one night. When we were younger, we used to go on vacation during the holidays once a year, whether it be barbecuing by a river, going to the waterpark, or playing games on a farm. It was always a blast because my family is crazy and we know how to have fun. As we grew older, we had less chances to go on these trips because we became busier with school and work. Last year my dad decided it was time to bring back this family tradition, especially since everyone was now living in the same country (except my dad who still lives and works in Thailand). Last year we made the trip down to Taichung 台中 where one of my cousin lives and similar to this time, we rented out a house to ourselves where we could barbecue, play games, sing karaoke, and just enjoy each other’s company.

Our day started out pretty early in the morning with a 5:30AM wake up call. We had to be out of the house by 6AM because there was a high possibility of being stuck in traffic on the way there with it raining and it being the weekend. This is how you know Taiwan is tiny and crowded – when any major highway going towards a “vacation destination” on a weekend will be jam packed for HOURS so you leave super duper early in the morning to beat the traffic.

After arriving in Yilan, our first stop was a nice hiking trail located right next to a golf course. The walk was very relaxing and a great way to kill time/exercise before we headed to lunch. We stopped at a small waterfall and turned back because beyond that point were stairs. We had some older folks who wouldn’t be able to walk it in its current conditions (wet and slippery). After turning back, we realized we still had a ton of time to kill so we decided to go experience fish eating our feet. LOL

This is apparently a big thing in Yilan? I’m actually not quite sure. But basically what happens is you put your feet in a pool of fish to which they will eat the dead skin off your feet. There are a ton of different types of fishes that are separated by aquariums and each type of fish is a different feeling and experience. This was my first time trying it and let me just say, it was not what I expected AT ALL. I couldn’t even put my foot in without instinctively pulling it out from the weird, weird feeling. I had never felt so grossed out by a feeling before. I always assumed you would barely feel it happening and that it would be a light touch, something gliding over your skin or a bit of nibbling with no teeth? BUT NO. It’s like a bunch of suction cups repeatedly sucking on your toes. The smaller fish felt like little needles or electric pulsing through my skin. This experience made me realize how sensitive my feet were because I honestly couldn’t control how my feet reacted to the fish touching me. Every single time I’d have to pull my foot out of the water very quickly the moment I felt the fish touch me. Eventually, I got a little bit more used to the feeling. At the end we bathed our feet in hot water as another form of “spa treatment” but to me was more like disinfecting my feet.

After this wonderful experience, we made our way to the restaurant for lunch. Food was delicious and prices were very cheap so my tummy was happy. For the majority of this trip, my phone had issues where I would open an app and 10 seconds later, it would go black, show the loading wheel, and then pop up the lock screen. No matter what I did like restarting the phone, it continued happening. I was so frustrated because I had no idea why I was suddenly having issues and I wasn’t able to take photos or videos of our trip. After a while I gave up trying because it was dampening my mood.

At our vacation house, everyone scattered to play board games, hang out, or sing karaoke. We played a new card game called Sushi Go! that at first seemed very complicated to learn but was actually a lot of fun to play after getting the hang of the rules. A bunch of us spent a chunk of our time playing this game because not only was it really fun, we raised the stakes by adding on punishments for the loser of each game like playing a round bean boozled or getting their face drawn with red lipstick.

Taiwanese families barbecue commonly as a family bonding event. The act of getting the fire started requires some teamwork and barbecuing yields more food for everyone to enjoy. With a barbecue, each person has a job they can help with, whether it be setting the table, preparing other food that don’t require the grill, swatting mosquitoes with an electric zapper, or pouring drinks for others. I love it.

After dinner, we went inside to play a few games. Because we had an odd number of people and I prepared the games, I decided to be the “host” and judge. I split everyone into three teams by having them draw a random number. The first game was a version of charades where instead of acting out a word, one person had to use words to describe the answer without saying the answer, and the rest of his/her teammates had to try and guess the answer. Whichever team guessed the most answers correctly in five minutes won. The second game was inspired by Good Mythical Morning’s “Hide The Meatball” challenge but instead of using meatballs we used fish balls. The last game we played involved putting tights over our heads with a tennis ball in one of the leg holes and seeing how long it’d take to hit down four bottles filled with water. For each game, the losing team had their faces drawn with red lipstick by the winning team.

At the end of the night, once everyone in America woke up, Apple finally came out with the new iOS update that included the bug fix I needed to fix my phone issues. Looking back at my day without my phone, I am grateful this happened coincidentally on our family vacation. Nowadays, myself included, people are so glued to their phones, it’s difficult to create meaningful connections with loved ones. It allowed me to focus solely on hanging out with my family, appreciate the time I got to spend with everyone, and just be present in my surroundings without being distracted.

I’m already getting excited for our next annual family trip in 2018!

Love,
Annie

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