Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Catching Up On Posts! Pictures From Taiwan

Hello hello.  I'm back to post some desperately tardy catch-up posts and pictures!  Let's go back to Easter when Michael and I went to Taiwan for four days, shall we.  It was a busy trip, action packed with a lot of sightseeing.

We landed in Hualian and were whisked immediately to the Pacific Ocean.  The airport here is very close to the water - right next to it actually!
 It was fun to see the Pacific Ocean from the other side of the world!  Kind of mind boggling, isn't it?  This water is the same body of water that laps up against the US west coast, a 14.5 hours' flight away!
 Super happy to be NOT at work here.  Bring on the water and the mountains!
 The beach here was kind of pebbly, not sandy, and I guess it's because the mountains were so close by.  My Vince loafers (fast becoming the go to, #1 shoe in my closet) were perfectly color coordinated.
 It was a little overcast but I actually liked the effect.
 After strolling around the ocean and touching the water and feeling the salt spray, we headed into the city of Hualian to get (what else) food!  My aunt's friend's grade school classmate (got that?) owns a traditional ice shop and we went there to get dessert.
 The dessert consists of shaved ice, with assorted toppings of your choice: hot, sweet taro, mochi of various flavors, jelly, peanuts, red bean, tapioco pearls, etc.  It's not quite chocolate and caramel and fudge, but it's still really tasty.  The hot taro was amazing.
 Here is the bowl Michael and I shared.  I still found it a bit sweet, so when we went back again I requested no syrup.  The shaved ice is fluffy and cooling and with the hot taro packed on top, melts quickly.
 We drove through the town for a bit before it was time for dinner.
 We headed out to a more rustic part of the county, where we started seeing lots of rice fields and vegetable patches.  I spotted this lone white bird in a rice paddy.

Looking around, you could kind of see the fertility of the land.  All of the public walkways had gutters like this one dug in, so that fresh water from the mountain could stream down directly and flush the rice and the crops.
We were headed to a house, which was essentially a place for a group of people to eat and sing karaoke.  Michael and I were very impressed by this table outside - all made from one huge slab of stone!  It was huge.  Hualian is well known for its quarries so it wasn't surprising to see such big blocks of stone in the front yard.  We also discovered a bunch of different trees in the yard, including, most unusually, cinnamon! 
 Here, my uncle and his friend warming up on the karaoke machine.
 The house had an incredible vegetable garden, full of tender spinach, scallions, heads of lettuce... we ate some of those vegetables for dinner and they were the highlight of the meal.  Not pictured are some ducks and geese in the back (also served at dinner)!
 Our meal was... interesting. 
The table kept growing in size as more people joined and more food was piled on.

We were served a huge variety of food, including the spinach and the lettuce freshly plucked from the garden, as well as goose (home grown), pork belly, pork knuckles, shrimp, squid and celery, bamboo shoots, pork liver, sashimi... and chicken gonads.  Yep.  I couldn't quite stomach that last one and refused to try, despite the enthusiastic urging of others around the table.  My uncle tried to tell me that they were chicken eggs... nice try!  I wasn't falling for that.
 Michael drank whisky and beer and learned the art of toasting your dinner companions in the Taiwanese style.  The night wrapped up with everyone singing karaoke and eating cake, before we called it a night (and, rather pathetically, earlier than all of the older folks).

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