Moon Festival 2011

This weekend is considered a holiday to celebrate the harvest moon. I’m sure it’s an ancient tradition with its roots somewhere in the long Taiwanese history but these days, what it means is:

  • we get a day off work
  • the company execs give everyone a gift box of moon cakes (moon cake sales skyrocket during this time of year)
  • we also get a small bonus.

Moon cakes are small, tart-like creations wrapped in a shaped and decorated pastry crust, filled with – well all sorts of interesting fillings. Flavors include pineapple (a big favorite on the island), red bean, lotus. Lotus is my favorite! Moon cakes are perishable so their shelf life isn’t long; they must be eaten within a short time after being baked. I took an extra box to the temple downstairs and they seemed very happy to receive it.

2 months in Asia

Taiwan's public art

For the past 8 weeks I’ve focused on getting to know this fascinating island, or at least parts of it. I’ve really resisted comparing life in Taipei to life in the States, for fear that I will lapse into homesickness. There is much to appreciate here, but sometimes comparisons are inevitable.

Every Monday when I join the line of folks waiting to separate and dump their garbage , every week when I take my clothing from the clothes line several floors up (no dryer but hey, at least we aren’t washing our clothes in a stream), when I realize that I can’t bake even the simplest of cakes (I have no stove; very few people do) I can’t help but wonder what life would be like here with a few extra “modern” conveniences. Taking public transportation is a great leveler – everyone does it. Walking downtown at 11pm? Completely safe, if you don’t count the taxis cutting corners into crosswalks. The Harvest Moon festival, complete with a 3-day weekend, is coming up. We’re each getting a package of Moon Cakes. Guess that’s the Taiwan equivalent to Mrs. Fields…

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…