Friday, July 25, 2014

A Proposal in Taiwan - Part 2 (Everything Comes Together)

Sorry to drag out the story people, but there were too many pictures and details to shove into one post.  Without further ado, at this point in the story, we have finished wandering around the botanical gardens in Taipei and I am finally putting two and two together (though not really).  Things did not really start to fall into place until we left the gardens.

I was thrilled to be engaged and could only think about how my friends would react when we showed up at brunch with a big sparkly ring on my finger.  We walked out of the gardens and I looked to Michael to lead us to brunch.  It hadn't occurred to me yet that during this entire time I had no idea where brunch was.  Instead, he started walking toward a fancy black BMW and reached for the handle.  I thought, what the what?  He pulled open the door and, voila!  Our friends were inside, beaming from ear to ear.  I clambered in laughing from the surprise and delight of it all.

They asked how it went. I flashed the ring.  A bouquet of flowers was waiting for me. There was a whole arrangement of of fresh cut fruit.  I started watching the video slideshow that Michael put together and my friend painstakingly videotaped off of a TV to play on his iPad.  At this point things were going a little more quickly than I knew how to process.  I sniffed my flowers, ate my fruit (kiwi, guava and apple) and watched the slideshow. 

Michael then says nonchalantly, So...we have tickets to Hualien this afternoon.  My jaw dropped.  We weren't going to stay in Taipei?  But what about our bags?  What about my passport?

Turns out he had booked us tickets to Hualien that afternoon and we were supposed to head to a resort in the mountains with hot springs, was was also very well known for its multitude of butterflies.  The original surprise was to whisk me to the airport whilst I continued to think we were going to brunch (trust me, I would not have noticed.  Could I be more oblivious??) but because my work had been so insane Michael didn't want to take me to the airport without first checking that we really could go.  (Side note: damn you, work, you ruined one surprise in my meticulously planned engagement!)

I immediately decided to go to Hualien.  There was no way, no matter how bad the internet was at the resort, that I was going to make Michael change the flights and lose out on a night at this resort.   I bounced up and down in my seat, OK!  Let's go!  I looked at my friends while I said it and my friend laughed.  She clarified, We're not going with you!  It's for you two, to celebrate!  I nodded my head, understanding dawning.  So this whole thing had been planned way way way in advance.  The whole trip to Taiwan, seeing friends for brunch, playing golf, meeting up with family, going to the nightmarket... all of our plans to stay in Taipei... this had all been a ruse?!

I was finally figuring it out. Michael forgot his wallet as a cover for going back upstairs and throwing everything into a bag for my friends to swing by and pick up... my friends pretended they were late... Michael pretended the botanical gardens may have been closed...we did not take the taxi because Michael needed an excuse to meander through the gardens... each little detail was a new revelation in my slowly stumbling brain.

As the car continued to head toward Songshan airport, my stomach grumbled and it finally hit me that there was going to be...No brunch? My friend who was driving laughed and said, No, Allison, there is no brunch.  My friend snapped a few quick pics of us before we headed into the domestic terminal.
We took a few obligatory shots with my left hand splayed across Michael.

 Then we were ready to go!  Bon voyage!
We took a little propeller plane with TransAsia.  The whole flight took about 35 minutes.  This was my first domestic flight in Taiwan!
At one point the air was a little turbulent (probably from the aftermaths of the typhoon) and I had a bad thought that this could be a very short engagement.  But then the plane landed fine.  Phew.   (Scary -- I just heard news that a domestic TransAsia turboprop plane went down this Wednesday...)

As soon as we landed, we got into a taxi and proceeded to drive for nearly an hour and a half to the Butterfly Valley Resort.

Hualien is beautiful.  The mountains are rolling and green and the skies are pure and blue.  Even though it was kind of stormy and dark the day we got there, the misty clouds floating over the jade green mountain peaks still created a very majestic landscape.  I had forgotten what it is like to live in an unpolluted, pristine place. 

After we arrived (it was very stressful as I immediately had to get on a call and turn documents for a very long while - I donotwishtodwellonit and let'spretendthatthatpartneverhappened) and settled into our suite, I noticed a huge basket of fruit on the table.  The basket was filled with the biggest, plumpest lychees, a papaya, a melon, multiple kiwi fruits and passion fruits!  And of course chocolate lollipops. My sister had arranged to send this to my room for me.  I immediately got teary eyed.  Later, when I called my sister to thank her, she laughingly said that she made them go through the paces and told them to include no apples, no oranges, no bananas, i.e., "no fruit that she can get in America".   My sister knows me so well.

Our room had a huge soaking tub that was fed with water from the hot springs.  It was awesome and very relaxing.

Here are some pictures taken the following morning.  The resort is sprawled out over a large natural valley and has hot springs, a main lobby area, a few villas and rooms and lots of hiking paths. The resort provides you with transport via golf cart between your room and the main lobby.
The rooms were up this hill which flowed with water piped in from the mountain.  The water was, as expected, very cold. 
I thought the rooms had a very Japanese, zen like feel.

We were blessed with amazing weather.

 There really were butterflies everywhere!  In particular the butterflies seemed to really like this flowering bush.

 I tracked down this little guy patiently.  Can you see him hanging off of the plant?  He's practically camouflaged against the cement path.

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