Home in Taiwan....

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ahh...the comforts of Taiwan! Awesome food, friendly people, beautiful landscapes....

Kaohsiung...a big city with a small town feel. We stayed at Yen hotel...for the whole month! What a wonderful hotel. Every morning at exactly 10am, they brought us breakfast in bed with a tea. Every afternoon or evening, they brought us a tray of fruit, cookies, a soap gift bag, red wine, and coffees! Unbelievable...all for free.

We spent the month visiting friends and enjoying the lifestyle in Kaohsiung....walks down the river, visiting the art district, enjoying the views from the mountain, etc. There is a wonderful viewpoint on the top of monkey mountain where you can see the whole south end of the city. What a sight. The zoo, on the other hand, is quite a sad experience. We were told that it had been revamped, but I was really disappointed in it's current state. The animals are in enclosures that don't seem to be suitable or reflective of their natural environments. However, the staff are incredible. We even had one employee stop trimming the trees and give us a tour. The bear is missing half of his fur, but the zoo guy said it was probably a genetic disorder...I was thinking it might be the quality of care.

Chinese came back to us quite quickly and we were speaking it a lot. Jay wanted a green tea one night, so I let him order...this is how it went:
Jay gets into his "confidence" pose (he leans on the counter with his arms crossed everytime he speaks Chinese...so cute...haha). He orders his "green tea", answering all the questions from the lady...little bit of ice, half sugar...pays and sits down to wait. They make his tea and call our number...umm...what the heck is in the tea??? There was a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the tea...but it wasn't a green tea, it was a black tea! HAHAHAHAHA....I asked them in Chinese what it was, since neither one of us have ever had ice cream in our iced tea before! Then Jay tells them that he had ordered a green tea...the lady was so embarrassed, another man in line was killing himself laughing, and I was just still in awe that I could get ice cream in my iced tea!! haha. The word for ice and the word for ice cream are similar...she must have misunderstood Jay's Chinese! We just kept the ice cream tea...excited to try something new! lol.

We rented scooters for a couple weeks....giving us more freedom and exploratory ability! So we went on a few adventures. I took Jay to a couple of my favorite places. The first stop was the Airport Cafe...good thing I can read the Chinese since our Taiwan friend who was driving was lost! haha. It wasn't as nice as I remember it, but it is pretty cool to be right alongside the runway. The planes land and take off right in front of you. The second was Fisherman's Wharf...an evening entertainment district full of coffee shops, restaurants, and live music. It's right in the harbour so we were lucky enough to see a large Navy training boat docked. The sailors were enjoying their night with karaoke when we walked by....they were sure to stop in the middle of the song and say hello and crack a few jokes...just enough to embarrass us...haha. It was fun!

My friends, Baby and 3M took us on a road trip to Shi Tou...a national park in the mountains. Driving through the mountains in Taiwan is an experience on it's own! As you drive along the curvy, single car lanes, you hope there won't be a landslide because you are only a foot from the cliff edge! haha. What a spectacular view, overlooking the tea plantations and the bamboo forests...stopping at coffee shops along the way. All the way up the mountain, there were signs on all the curves saying "Watch out for Elfs"!! ....Elfs? like Elves at Christmas??? We couldn't figure it out so we tried to ask in Chinese...apparently the translation was lost somewhere...even my friends didn't know what it was when we showed them the Chinese!  haha. What a day! We stayed in bamboo bungalows in the mountain valley. Awesome! Shi Tou is beautiful with hiking trails throughout....through bamboo forests, past ponds, and trying not to fall over the edge as you try to pass the groups of Chinese tourists without slipping off the cliffside...or being "pushed"...lol. I'm not sure you can call it a "nature" walk when you are following multiple tour groups...the leaders yelling into megaphones so their groups of 50+ tourists can hear and know where to go, and all the "chatting" tourists yelling to each other...even though they are standing 2ft apart! If you've ever been to China, you know what I mean! haha.

A month of eating peanut pancakes, deep fried yum, and delicious soups makes us want to stay here forever!! Unfortunately...we must leave. 5:30am, we wake up...finish packing...no breakfast today. Baby picks us up at 7am...it's pouring rain, more like someone is draining a lake onto Taiwan!! Traffic is insane and Baby (our driver) is worried that we won't make our train...which would mean we would also miss our flight! I went on a slight shopping spree in Taiwan, so we were carrying two large boxes as well as our backpacks! Our train leaves at 8am, it's 7:49am and we pull up to the train station, load our boxes into the elevator and go to the first floor, get out, look around...crap! Wrong floor...so back up to the second floor! Now it's 7:55am and we haven't even found the gate yet! As we enter the station, our friend Baby comes running, shouting our names...hahaha. No one knew what was happening. We make it through the gate, stop to re-arrange our luggage, and "woop"...onto my back I roll. Eleven months of travelling and it's down to seconds on catching our train...and my pack rolls me from a squat to flat on my back! I tried to get up and rolled over again! Fine...I rolled onto my stomach, got on my knees....looked at Jay (who knew better than to laugh...although I could see it in his eyes), grabbed my packages and we ran to the platform...hopped on the train...less than 30 seconds later, it started leaving! Talk about a close call! We looked at each other and for the next half hour my wonderful husband was sure to replay my "rolling" moment over and over again...oh how I love being married. lol. On to our next destination.....

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