January 27th was not only my birthday but also the second day of the Chinese New Year, when traditionally families go to the mother's side of the family. This worked out perfectly because Angel invited Nick and I to her father's house for my birthday.
Including Nick and I there were 10 people at the feast, Angel and her husband and two daughters, Natalie (10) and Lucy (17) and Chris and Rachel and Angels father and his wife.
Angel's dad is 89 years old and he's awesome. He's in very good shape (although he may have a bit of a memory problem). The whole night he was telling us his stories from when he was in the Taiwanese Air force. He was a fighter jet crew chief and he inspected planes before they took off. He learned all of his English from American soldiers during WWII.
He was Nick's new BFF and kept raising his glass of whisky for Nick to drink with him! Finally, Nick had to stop drinking whisky because he wanted to make sure that he didn't get the old man too drunk! Haha.
Dinner was fantastic, the BEST meal by far that we've had yet. There were more than 10 different dishes, three kinds of fish, amazing dumplings (or pot stickers as we call them at home), soup, beef stir fry, some potato dish that I've never had before, shrimp... It was fantastic. Their dinner table was a big round table with a Lazy Susan in the middle that all of the food was on. So throughout the meal, you just turn the platform in the middle of the table and pick what you want out of the dishes. I think their family style of eating here is awesome, it's a much more communal experience than western dining. Plus, I think it helps you to eat less.
Chatting at dinner was also quite the cultural exchange. Chris speaks pretty good English, but the rest of the family has trouble expressing themselves (still almost everyone at the table speaks more English than either of us speak Chinese), so conversations that would probably be pretty short at home, were long and drawn out as the whole family worked together to find the English words for what they wanted to say. Throughout we were teaching them English and they were teaching us some Chinese. It was really fun; I was laughing and smiling the whole dinner.
After dinner it was time for Karaoke (or KTV as they call it here. Short for Karaoke TV). Angel and her daughter Lucy are both very good singers, so I was a little embarrassed by my singing, but it was good times. I even did a duet with Angel (My Endless Love) and one with Chris (You Give Love a Bad Name, by Bon Jovi) and Angel's dad sang a couple songs including one A'Capella version of an old Chinese opera song. It was fantastic.
Finally about 5 ½ hours after we arrived, it was time for the last event of the night: Singing Happy Birthday to ME!! Angel bought a cake and some candles and they all sang to me in Chinese and then in English and I blew out the candles. Chris and Rachel even gave me a Chinese-English dictionary for a present.
I hope they invite us back again! It was the best night in Taiwan thus far.