Starting of Eastern Taiwan Tour

Trip Start Nov 18, 2010
Trip End Dec 04, 2010

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jau xi lau ye

Flag of Taiwan  , Taiwan,
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hi Everyone,

     We woke up early this morning and departed on our 4 day packaged tour of eastern  Taiwan. Our first stop is the Presidential palace of Taiwan. In the past, this is a place of national security and no one is allowed for a tour. Now we can actually visit this place. The guide for the presidential palace started speaking to us in English but switched to Chinese as some of details of Taiwanese history gets too complicated to be explained in English. Interesting thing is our tour guide Jason Yang, who supposedly lived in Australia during part of his childhood also decided to speak Mandarin during the tour. Sadly there are two Cantonese speakers and two English speaker who would have to try to rely on their significant other the translate for them. I am kind of happy the tour is conducted in Mandarin, because the explanation would have been so much better when done in the local language and it also forces me to listen in Mandarin. After a brief tour of the presidential palace, we stopped by Taipei 101 building for a photo opportunity, but as Jason said, because of time restraint, we won't be able to go to the top of the 101 building. We also stopped by Chiang-kai Shek Memorial for a quick photo.

     We are now on our way to Jiu-fan old town for lunch. Our Guide Jason told us different "small eats" available here to try, all type of local delicacies. One famous one is the gelatinous meat ball. They use a special local sauce that is red in color. Another one is the shredded turnip and pork in a green gelatinous bun. There are about a total of 4 different "small eats" so Angela, her mom and I walked around in the cobble stoned old town checking out different shops and then trying out different small eats. Instead of sightseeing tour, its more like a "eating" tour. We finished our eating tour with the local delicacy of sweet gelatinous root balls, made of taro, yam, and other root vegetables all in a sweet brooth. It is now drizzling a bit so we head back to our tour bus.

      Next stop, we visited the northeast corner of Taiwan. This area used to be military defense base, but it has since opened for tour due to its stunning views. We hiked a short distance to top and took some nice photos, except it was very windy so we head back. We also stopped by Jin-Gua Shi, the old but famous gold rush site in Taiwan, however it is no longer producing gold due to environmental concerns.

     Tonight, we checked into our hotel, Jau-Xi lau-yeh Hotel. This is a 5 star hotel in the middle of the mountain in Yilan province famous for it hot springs. It is very popular amonst Japanese tourists that the entire hotel has a Japanese theme, from outdoor hot tubs, swimming pools, to male and female nude Onsen. The outdoor swimming pool is so luxurious that the water constantly ran off its edge ( infinity pool ). There is even a smaller side pool where is filled with tiny gold fish that supposedly eat off the dead skin from your feet and toes. I tried it out, very ticklish.  Jason, our guide said the Nude onsen is a must, there are 3 separate pools separated by temperature 39C, 41C to 42C. The visitor must bath first before soaking and NO PHOTOS allowed. Angela, her mom and I were quite excited about the onsen so as soon as we checked into the hotel, we put on our yu-kata ( Japanese style gown), and head for the onsen.

      The onsen is quite interesting. After I  signed in, the attendant gave me a locker key. The shower is very nice with shampoo. conditioner, body wash all included on the wall.  There is even a large dressing room complete with different facial creams/hair gels etc and even a blow dryer and q-tips. After a quick shower, I got a small towel and hopped into the male nude onsen, starting with 39 degree celcius. Due the proximity of the hotel to the volcanic vent, the warm water is constantly pumped into the hotel onsen. I saw our guide Jason already soaking in the 42 degree onsen. He said he is here every week when he is guiding, its a must for him.

      After the soak, I met up with Angela and her mom for a delicious Japanese buffet dinner. There are so many entries, meats. The best one is the stew lamb with herbs. The flavor is so fragrant.
After dinner, I played ping-pong with Angela and her mom and sat fot night performance of the local music before settling in my room for the night.

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