Taipei – Day 25, April 18

Today I got a little bit away from the glitz and glamour of Taipei 101 and saw something quite a bit different.

I was still relaxing and writing in bed at 10 am, so you can see I’m slowing down here. Though I do have an all-day adventure tomorrow that starts at 8 am.

I walked to Longsham Temple. It was very nice with a surprise waterfall situation right here in the city. They were using misters because it’s already pretty hot to me here. Some folks seem to think the high 80s still means you should wear sneakers, jeans, and a light jacket. But they know the terrible, hot, sticky summer is coming, so maybe they are just getting in a few last days of jeans while they can.

Then, hey! thanks Google Maps for not showing me that I could have easily ridden the subway just one quick, cool stop away to see the temple, but oh well. I was back at my hotel in no time cooling off before this afternoon’s excursion.

Six of us tourists were taken north in a comfortable VW van out of the city for my first look at the coast. See the crazy rock photos below. There was also a depleted gold and coal mine that the Japanese built when they occupied Taiwan. It’s another opportunity for you to read up on Taiwan’s history on Wikipedia.

We drove up to this funny little hill town overrun by tourists because supposedly it was the inspiration for the animated film called Spirited Away. Thanks to the fact that we had that DVD when the kids were little, I’ve watched it about 100 times. I love the film and I could see the vibe that Jiufen had along with the film. But there’s this scene in the movie where the train is basically riding over the water, and that still gives me bad dreams. Didn’t see anything like that today, so that was a relief.

Our guide Jenny told us about all the special little treats in this town and I bought each one. They were flat-out terrible. One was some ice cream crepe made with peanut brittle shavings. Two bites and it was in the trash. There was a honey cake, which was tasteless but I was hungry so I finished it. There was a red bean paste-filled mochi thing that was vile. Then worst of all was this “parable soup”. It had sticky lumps of taro and other unknown things served with a water broth and chopped ice. I spit my bite back into the bowl and threw it out. A lot of people got a kick out of my rejection, but I honestly don’t care! They need a little help in the dessert department if you ask me.

We got a little free time and I slipped away from my group and most of the tourists and sat down for oolong tea at an amazing old teahouse and art gallery. It was the experience that made the whole Jiufen thing worth it to me. The lovely server showed me how to brew the oolong tea and pour more of it for myself. The cookies made with tea were delicious. And the leftover dry tea was packaged up for me to bring home. It was a very nice experience, especially after the preceding weird ones!

After that, we crept down the winding road from Jiufen and rode back to Taipei. I used the time to edit my photos for this blog. It takes a lot of time to get the photos into each album here. I’m not watching any shows on Netflix or anything because basically, this fills my spare hotel time.

Please note the moped pictures below. There are zillions here. I wonder what the factor is that puts so many in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, but not Singapore or Japan. Temperature? Laws? Public transportation?