Who would have guessed that you can farm in Taipei?
It was a Sunday morning when I left New Taipei City with my Couchsurfing host Jimmy and his son where we drove to Shenkeng Mountain near Taipei Zoo. It was raining the night before, so I thought the hiking/farming event was ought to be canceled. Luckily, the rain stopped pouring.
Driving to the meeting place, we met up with Ray Peng who works as an environmentalist. We took the easy trail since there were kids and elderly people joining us. It was a great hike since Ray was very familiar of the place and he’s also equipped with knowledge about the plants and wildlife in the forest. During the hike, he shared about his work as well as information about flora and fauna we passed by along the way. Stumbling and falling into the mud, we laughed our asses off and wiped off the wet brown liquid invading our clean clothing.
As soon as we reached the farm, the farmers welcomed us with their warm smiles. Asking where I was from, an old man suddenly blurted out, “Mabuhay! Kamusta?” I was so happy to hear those two words. It immediately felt like home. We went to the resting area beside their organic tea plantation to prepare for the farming session.
Sleeves? Rolled up. Hair? Tied up. Shoes? Barefooted now! We set off down the fields where one farmer demonstrated how the crop seedlings were planted into the muddy waters. From kids to elders, everyone keenly observed how the farming was done. After letting the kids try, I jumped into it where my feet were immersed in the cold muddy waters. It was actually a nice feeling. I grabbed a set of seedlings and started planting.
Standing on a horse stance, I planted two seedlings at the middle of my legs and two more to my right plus one to my left. It was how the farmer did it, five in a row then step back and repeat. I did this for quite a while before it started raining again. I exited the fields and went back to the hut for some warm tea.
Watching the kids play was fun. Jimmy was a really nice host. We talked about our experiences. He told me about the places I should visit in Taiwan as well as Singapore (since he’s Singaporean). I then shared how beautiful Philippines is, especially Palawan. I told him about the places I’ve visited and convinced him to visit someday.
After everyone finished farming, lunch wad served. Fresh fish, steamed and fried vegetables, seafood mix, variety of pork dishes, choices of noodles, and sweet sticky rice desserts were laid down on the table. Everything looked so delicious. There were a lot of food, I definitely did try all of them and ate a lot. It was a great meal.
During this trip, I even met this French guy who was studying Chinese in my university. It was nice talking to him since he’s been to Taiwan before prior to his stay now. I’ve got a glimpse his perspective of Taiwan before and Taiwan now. There was also this American environmentalist who lived in Taiwan for a long time now with his Taiwanese wife. They were adorable and kind. Talking to these people was an experience I couldn’t have gotten if I didn’t go hiking and farming that day. I’d definitely want to go back.
Maybe someday, you’ll eat some of the rice I planted!