Our third day in Taiwan we started early packing our things and leaving the hotel in Taichung City at 7:15 AM. Also known as “wheels up at 7:15 am” as our classmate Jay Schmidt likes to say on the tours that he leads. After a wrong turn and passing numerous signs saying no trucks or busses, we found ourselves needing to make a right turn coming down off of a steep decline which resulted in a rather jarring scraping noise coming from the front driver’s side of the bus. After some back and forth, some more loud scraping noises and offering to step off the bus, our driver skillfully navigated the turn and headed the right direction to our first stop, the Flying Cow Dairy Farm.

The Flying Cow Farm is a former dairy farm that was converted to an agro-tourism business with many different farm animals including Jersey and Holstein cows, goats, geese, rabbits and sheep. Just like in the US the Taiwanese people are increasingly getting removed from their roots in agriculture and farms like these are great for showing farm animals.

Next was the Yeshealth organic vegetable farm where they produce about 1.75 tons of lettuce, spices and various greens using 26,000 square feet of vertical hydroponic farming. At this unique farm they have found that the vegetables both grow and taste better if they play classical music. The Yeshealth organic farm was a fascinating view into the future and the potential of urban farming.

Our next stop after lunch was a personal favorite of mine, the Yingge Old Street Market. The class received a demonstration showing how to mold a piece of clay on the pottery wheel into a cup, a bowl or a vase. A number of MARL classmates tried their hand at throwing their own piece of pottery on the wheel. In the meantime I went to look for a piece of local pottery for my wife, who is a professional potter on our farm in Minnesota.

Our last stop in our busy day was Taipei 101, the 5th tallest building in the world and the tallest building in Taipei. There we rode on one of the fastest elevators in the world to the 90th floor where we enjoyed 360 degrees of striking views of the expansive city of Taipei. On our way back down we saw the impressively engineered wind damper; a 5 story tall metal ball counterweight designed to make the building safer and reduce the sway of the more than 1,600 foot tall building.

Lastly we were off to dinner and to check into the Hotel RegaLees for our final night in Taiwan and the last night of the trip. Tomorrow we will pack our bags, enjoy a few more tourist stops and board the plane for our 13 hour flight to Chicago.

Submitted by Jake Rieke

Captain’s Log

The days are long and Taiwan is our home for this day.  It is our second day exploring this country.  We started our morning off with a breakfast buffet that included traditional Chinese cuisine; especially noted the elusive Chinese dumpling made an appearance and it was worth the wait.  Our Taiwanese tour guide started the day by explaining the some of the cultural gaps that exist between the Taiwanese and Americans.  As luck would have it, Feb 28th is a Taiwanese holiday celebrating Peace Memorial Day.  Because of this, many of our stops included unique experiences.

Our first stop was the Nantou Tea Farm.  This farm introduced us to perhaps our most charismatic actor of our adventure.  Our language gap created a hilarious session with Charades-like communication and many “hello, hello’s”.  Not only did we  learn about Oolong tea production, we also gained knowledge via a very detailed and in-depth discussion about digestive and other tea benefits. The old-style serving of tea was demonstrated as we were provided with samples of  high-quality Oolong tea. We were taught the proper way to sniff the aroma of the tea using a special serving cup that was rolled in one’s hands before smelling. The tasting process was also taught to us as follows:  sip slowly, hold the tea in your mouth for 5 seconds, and then swallow. This expensive and delicious tea is grown high up in the mountains of Taiwan.  The greatest quality leaves are harvested by hand, carefully dried, and then processed for export to Japan.  After documenting our stop with plenty of pictures and purchases, we transitioned to the Tour Rich Year Farm.

An insight gleaned in transit is that many Taiwanese tour guides do not like to guide Americans because of our incessant questions.  Jean (our tour guide), having spent time in Tennessee for college, had no problem educating us the entire time.  The Tour Rich Farm is a mushroom farm.  This farm specializes in greenhouse production of pick your own, fresh, and dried mushrooms. The entire greenhouse production area is open for consumers to peruse.  We saw some interesting varieties of mushrooms; the monkey head and deer horn mushrooms were highlights, but we also saw different types of white, yellow, black, blue, and pink mushrooms. Our tour finished with an exclusive look into the production side of the business, where we got to see how the farm prepares potting material for mushroom growth.

Lunch was our next stop. The farm and the restaurant are owned by the aboriginal Thaower people of Taiwan.  These native Taiwanese still make up about 2% of the Taiwanese population, and some still practice the traditional ways of hunting and gathering.  Our meal was an spectacular representation of traditional native Taiwanese food.  Nearly all our dining experiences in this country utilized the circular table with a spinning Jenny that never seemed to run out of food.  The staff would continually provide new dishes as we perfected our chopstick usage. Conveniently, our lunch stop was adjacent to the Thaower Biotech Farm, our next agenda item.  A quick tour of the Biotech farm showed us a glimpse of aquaculture and green production in a sun-free environment.

After driving up more mountains, we arrived at our next stop- Sun Moon Lake.  This gem of Taiwan is a very popular vacation destination for local Taiwanese.  We hopped on a 1973 Chris Craft touring boat and had two stops around this beautiful freshwater lake. The first stop was a Buddhist temple and included a 1500’ climb.  I am happy to report that after a strenuous foot race up the 1239 steps, I secured victory.  The next stop was a local village that allowed us to to see the  stereotypical American idea of streets filled with people.  The energy was electric, the food was incredible, and we enjoyed our quick glimpse of how people gather together in Taiwan.

Supper tonight was our first experience with a “hot pot”.  In this traditional Taiwan fast food experience, each person gets a seat that has its own boiling pot of water.  In an all-you-can eat buffet style, we selected our uncooked ingredients and then prepared them ourselves to our own liking.  I am confident in speaking for the group in that our appetites have never gone un-appeased.

Peace Out

Cordell Huebsch & Danielle Evers

Today we packed to leave Cambodia and say goodbye to our new friends Dr. Noy and his wife Reaksmey.  Before we departing we presented our hosts with gifts from Minnesota, including some Vikings football apparel.  To our surprise Dr. Noy had gifts for us from his work with the UN.

Before leaving we worked Toby and Christy on a few EQi competencies, focusing stress tolerance and problem solving.  In our groups we went over how we each handle stress, ways that we can help mitigate it and turning it into a positive mindset.

Once we cleared security we found Brown Coffee which is a local brand recommended by our guide. We were excited to finally be able to try it and no one was disappointed with the coffee.

After our flight to Taiwan we were able to meet our new guide Jean. After we collected our luggage and got outside the weather change hit us.  The high temperature was 75 and partly cloudy compared to 90+ in Cambodia. While everyone was sad to leave we are excited for the change of not being so hot.

As we traveled to our hotel we stopped at the Tong Hai Fish Village restaurant for a traditional Taiwanese meal. Dessert consisted of fresh fruit which has been wonderful in both locations. We are excited to get out and experience Taiwan tomorrow.

Aaron Vadnais


In the words of Bon Jovi “Whoa, we’re halfway there!” It’s hard to believe that our international seminar is just over halfway complete. Before we loaded the bus to head back to a Phnom Penh, Christy began the day reviewing the Community Capitals that we have seen in the previous days. Cambodia might be a developing country, but there are so many assets these communities have. Since change has been a constant for all of us, Toby then had us get into our EQi groups for us to contemplate how we have dealt with the changes that happen on a seminar such as this.
We then said goodbye to Siem Reap and headed back to Phnom Penh. Along the way we visited a Cashew Nut farm and saw how they process the Cashews.

One of the things that has struck at all of our hearts are the stories of the Khmer Rouge history from 1975-1979. Millions of people were lost, but the stories of survivors, like Dr. Noy Shoung, help us to understand a bit more the complicated history of this place. It is great to have someone like Noy to help us in our journey.

As we arrived back in Phnom Penh, we turned our attention to the next leg of our journey-Taiwan.

Curtis Mahnken

The day started off in Siem Reap at the hotel with a large breakfast of traditional and non-traditional foods. Most of us chose to grab a couple fried eggs or an omelette with a couple pieces of toast instead of pho or congee. After breakfast we had a reflection on the previous days activities as well as a breakdown of the schedule for the day. After the meeting we loaded the bus and left Siem Reap on another adventure.


Our first stop was at Dr. Noy Sun’s diversified agriculture farm. At his farm we saw livestock, fruit trees, and water management. At the farm we learned about the differences in the different livestock in country. Dr. Noy raises a cross between brahma and Nellore for a smaller body frame and better meat production. He also had chickens, ducks, and geese that were grown for egg and meat production. The farm was 85 hectares and located along a river. It was intriguing to learn about how he was using solar power to manage water through wells on his farm. We also saw on his farm how they were alternating coconut trees with banana trees which was a new concept in the country. The coconut trees are unlike the trees that most people are use to seeing as they are short enough that the fruit can be picked with a short ladder from the ground. It was also very interesting to learn that when banana fruit is picked from the trees they always leave 100 bananas to maintain the health of the tree.  We then loaded the bus for the trip to the Run-Ta-Ek Cooperative.

At the cooperative we were greeted by the cooperative leadership and some distinguished guests.  It was apparent they were very excited to have us there and welcome us to experience their culture and the community.  We were seated for lunch and were served an authentic Cambodian meal including fish, pork, chicken, papaya salad, moringa soup and, of course, white rice.  Like most of our meals we had fresh fruit as a desert and we had some extremely delicious mango from Dr. Noy’s farm.  We viewed a short presentation about the Cooperative and what they do there.








Following the lunch and presentation we delivered the bicycles and educational supplies that our class purchased to give to the students.  There were 90 students in the Cooperative and 30 students were chosen the receive a bicycle.  It was a very rewarding experience to see the expressions and emotions that the students and families expressed when their names were called.  Having a bicycle provides a much easier lifestyle for people and can often be the difference in going to school or not.  We then handed out a Magnadoodle board, a pencil pack, and some snacks to the remaining students and again saw how excited they were to receive those.  It was a great experience that made many of us think a little deeper on our own experiences and how  life is much different is other places.


A tour of the homestay dwellings followed and we got a chance to see the amenities.  They were built on legs, had concrete floors with seating below and an enclosed sleeping area above with electricity. The sleeping pads had mosquito nets Around them and fans to help with air movement.  There was a western toilet in the commode and a bathing area attached as well.  These are what the Cooperative families live in and would provide an intimate insight into life as a Cooperative family.


After the homestay visit we had a chance to make sticky rice, paper lanterns and observe the roasting of the whole cow that was being served for the evening meal.  The sticky rice is traditional snack that is served often in the mid-morning/afternoon containing white rice, beans, sugar and coconut milk.  We each had a chance to see the mixing and got to pack it into our own bamboo shoot.  The bamboo shoots are then placed over a bed of coals for 3 hrs to cook the rice mixture inside.  We then all took turns helping to construct the paper lanterns we were going to release that evening.  Finally, we went behind the building to see the cow that was being roasted.  It was smaller than any of us expected as it was maybe 500# live weight and we learned it was 18 months old to get that big.

Our final activity before the evening meal was a tractor tour of the Cooperative farm to see what they grow and learn about their operations.  We loaded up in 4 Kubota wagon tractors which have a 9 hp 2 stroke engine coupled with a transmission and 2 hand brakes to help with steering.  The wagons supported about 2,200 lbs and are used to transport everything from produce to people.  We saw their Moringa and Velvetbean fields first and learned the uses of those crops.  The moringa is a shrub and they harvest the leaves to be used in soups, tea and as a herb.  The velvetbean is used as a stimulant to improve dopamine in the brain and is paired with different extracts to create many products.  The tractors then took us to see some Roselle plantings that are used in a sweet tea followed by their corn plantings.  The corn reaches maturity in 8 weeks and planting is staggered to provide a continuous supply of corn throughout the year.  We then headed back to the gathering area for our evening celebration.

To finish the evening we went back to the shelter where we began the day to take part in a traditional evening celebration that included music, a meal, and dancing. The cow that was being roasted earlier in the day was served as an appetizer to start off the evening meal. The cooks would carve off chunks of beef, marinade them in a sauce pan, then grill them over a bed of wood coals. The meat was sliced thin and served with a fish sauce. The meal included many authentic Cambodian dishes including; the sticky rice that was made earlier in the day, mango salad with tiny fresh water crabs, a bean sprout, chicken, and shrimp egg and rice flour pancake that could be dipped in a fish sauce, roasted chicken and pork served with a spicy chili sauce, beef liver, tongue, and tripe also served with a spicy chili sauce, chicken livers, white rice and fried rice with shrimp and vegetables, fresh vegetables, and to finish the meal we had fresh watermelon and papaya. We enjoyed this meal as we sat next to one of the many small lakes in the community and enjoyed traditional Cambodian folk music. After eating our program leaders were pulled out in front of the group and were taught Cambodian dance. After a few minutes we all joined in the dance and you could

feel the happiness of both the community and our group. We finished the evening lighting off the lanterns we had made earlier in the day which in our opinion was a magical way to end the evening. The co-op leadership was thanked for the wonderful day of learning

and sharing and prior to departing we left the community with a gift of many household items and groceries we had purchased in Siem Reap during one of our MARL activities. What a day and what a special opportunity to meet new people and create new relationships

through learning, food, and dance.

Austen Germolus