Rock Stars and Duck Brains In Northern Taiwan
I feel a little like a rock star. I have just offered jobs to 16 Taiwanese college students, and now they all want their photo with me. Group photo plus lots of individual photos. I assume I will be all over facebook in minutes. The excitement is a bit infectious; all are good kids. I know I am older when I refer to college students as ‘kids.’
With work finished, its time for vacation. Up at 7am for 60 minute run through the streets of Taipei. Abbie, the lovely young lobby employee I have enjoyed talking with over the past couple of days, is astonished that I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt. “It’s so cold out!” In the low 60s, it is perfect for running. I return from my run and enjoy a quick trip to the spa for a hot tub soak and steam room. I have to enjoy this nice hotel while I can – I certainly won’t stay anywhere this nice once I am paying.
A quick ride on the subway to meet up with January and Stanley. I met them in February on a mountain outside of Jiufen, and we agreed to meet up. We drive out of the city to the coast, which is amazing. Taiwan’s north coast is indeed impressive. Parts remind me a lot Oregon’s coastline.
A quick snack in a small town. I’m not sure what to make of the mix of flavors. Vanilla ice cream coated in crushed peanuts, wrapped in rice paper. So far so good. But the fresh cilantro? No thanks. Even if I liked cilantro that seems an odd combination.
But as always, I love the experience.
Lunch. Rice. Of course. Lamb, chicken, seafood, veggies.
But the important stuff – we came here to hike. We head up a trail that wastes no time in gaining vertical. The views would probably be amazing were it not for the rain and thick clouds. And then there is the wind. We cut our hike short.
Next we drive to Bitou Cape, which I had wanted to see last time. Gorgeous. For a few minutes, the light is marvelous, and I happily shoot photos.
Next morning, Yu Ting – English name Angela – meets me in my hotel and helps guide me to my next (much cheaper) hotel near Taipei Main Station and then we meet up with the rest of the 2014 group. I love seeing those smiling faces. Good to see Jack, Stacy, Olivia, Randy, and Jennifer. Lunch at a swanky place, then on the bus.
Yeliu geopark, on the northeast coast, is like a tiny patch of southern Utah, with interesting rock patterns. Its raining heavily but we still have fun. After, they introduce me to a brewed ginger tea, made with brown sugar. Delicious! I will definitely be making this at home.
A few of us go to a night market, where Stacy has fun trying to get me to eat some unusual foods. Chicken feet – cold, flavorless, and rubbery. Duck brain, still in the skull – OK but I don’t need to repeat the experience.
Eventually we call it a night and I return to my hotel, ready to leave for Taichung the next day. New places, new adventures.