Thursday, April 27, 2017

Touring the Sights, Sounds and Tastes of Hualian

On the second day of our trip in Taiwan (my mother's birthday!) we were greeted by amazing blue skies and beautiful, beautiful landscapes everywhere we turned.

We started with a little frolic in a sunflower patch.  Turns out lots of properties here grow sunflowers, likely for the seeds.
 Our first stop was to a beautiful lookout point, which happened to be the setting for Martin Scorsese's latest movie, "Silence."
 Do these scenes look familiar, for anyone who has seen the movie?
 The water was pretty amazing, especially around the little lagoons (which also had little fish and crabs).
This is kind of an amazing picture, right?  The water is so clear!
 It was a really hot day though.  I was regretting my skinny jeans (not that I mentioned that at all).
 Here is another lookout where we stopped - just beautiful!  I felt like we were on a tropical island, instead of the Eastern coast of Taiwan.  Driving along the coast on Taiwan's version of the 101, it felt very much like we were on at tropical island (which, I guess, we were)!
 We stopped for lunch at a seafood restaurant in a little fishing village.
 They had a lot of fresh fish on display in their ice bucket, but none of the "man bo," a local fish that Michael liked (and he hates fish)!
 As with all meals with my Taiwanese relatives, we had to eat a lot.  They ordered what seemed to be everything, including lots of random seafood bits and pieces that I'm not as used to seeing.  In order from left to right, proceeding down the page, we had: sauteed fish roe, fish skin and onion salad, assorted sashimi, sauteed squid, fish and cabbage soup, seafood soup, sauteed lobster, steamed fresh fish, fried calamari, deep fried roe with mayonnaise, wild greens sauteed with little fish, grilled pork collar, and sweet and sour shark.

Here, Michael and my mom adopted the same perch on the stone cliffs overlooking the brilliant blue sea.

As if all of this traipsing around weren't enough, we headed to another little sanctuary, a park overlooking the ocean.  We sat around, drinking tea, before going to explore.
There was a magnificent green hill with a huge tree, which bore odd fruit.  But as far as I can understand, the fruit isn't edible.
They look a lot like pineapples, if you ask me (yum).
In case you thought we were done with water, we had some really nice views.

We found some beautiful white, nearly translucent pebbles on this beach, which we picked up and kept (and later found out that they're considered lucky).  I thought the water here was really lovely.  Something about the muted colors really appealed to me.

Finally, after a full day of sightseeing, we ended up at this lobster seafood restaurant to celebrate my mom's dinner.
We were in our own room with a nice view of the water.  It was a water and seafood day. 
Lots and lots of food kept showing up.  My phone died after a little while, so you'll just have to take my word for it that we got, in addition to the standard appetizers of squid, sashimi, chicken, we also got lobster (served 3 ways) along with lobster soup, shrimp, fish (three kinds), clams, fried cuttlefish, noodles... the list went on and on.  Here is a picture of the grilled lobster (with cheese) that I did manage to capture.
After all of the food arrived and we were stuffed to our gills, we brought out a delicious birthday cake (with pudding inside) for my mom, and we all sang happy birthday (in English and Chinese).  It was a really good, full (and filling) day.

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