Something I'd rather not know more about- The first typhoon of the season, Soulik, is heading towards Taipei - might affect our travel home. A typhoon is a hurricane, but it sounds worse!
Today was another whirlwind. We had a coupon for breakfast at 7-11, which is everywhere in Taiwan, a cross between Sheetz/Friendly and a corner store. You can buy beer and wine, train tickets, clothes at many of them. Then we went to look at Oscar's college, the College of Education at Chi Nan University which has a great view of the Puli Basin and the surrounding mountains. On 9/21/1999 there was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered in that area and it did terrible damage.- note to self, if you can, run to stand by the refrigerator if you can't get outside- anyhow people are still talking about it. After a stop at a scenic view to have coffee and a famous snack, we went to a elementary school whose principal is also a famous calligrapher. The principal was at the dentist (even famous calligraphers have teeth to tend) but he left us two pieces as presents. The vice principal showed us around the office and we had tea. The school was near Sun Moon Lake so we drove there to what I can only call a crazy mishigash of an amusement park. I took some pix to TRY to do justice to the strangeness of it. Lunch was authentically awesome though, DO NOT mess with the food here. A cable car took us up to the aboriginal park for a show. Taiwan has 26 indigenous tribes, and I'm sure what we saw was as crazy as the rest of the park, although it COULD be that I didn't understand a word of anything and was relying on commentary from Li and Oscar, who had never been there before. We barely escaped being trapped by a wicked thunderstorm, and went on home to Taipei, where OF COURSE, we ended the day with a meal, this time at a Vietnamese Restaurant named Madame Jill's. Shredded papaya salad anyone?
These pix were sent by Jason, another colleague, who, with his wife toured David around a coastal national park. Hualien is the name of the area. Taroko National Park, Shadang Trail, Swallow Tail Grotto, Qixing Tan Beach, National Dong Hwa University and restaurants!!
Li-yun took us to Nantou, the only landlocked county in Taiwan, via high speed rail and car driven by a colleague, Oscar, who works at Chi Nan University. Puli is the town, where we 1. Had lunch, 2 visited a really imposing Buddhist monastary, 3. Made paper at a factory that specialized in traditional papermaking and 4. had dinner! We are spending the night in the Chi Nan university dorms. Check out the link for more info
Night fishing is an activity that they are trying to promote for this area. It is like the party boat fishing out of Shinnecock or Robert Moses on LI. Something different was that the crew prepared a noodle soup, with fresh fish and squid and vegetables for everyone, it was the most delicious broth- The fishing crew doesn't speak anything but Chinese, so it was strictly local thing. We could never find it on our own.
At Wistaria teahouse - back in the day people met here to discuss politics at great risk - today Edgar, Sun-chieh and I discussed all manner of things about our lives and cultures without fear except self imposed cautiousness about manners and personal discretion This is profoundly miraculous, even more so because I usually don't think twice about saying what is on my mind
Ok and we talked about everything but here is something I learned which is mind boggling. Madam Mao and Madam Chiang Kai-Shek were SISTERS!! How did I not know that? And someone needs to write a play about them from the point of view of their other sister who did not marry a head of state..
Later today, the whirlwind recommences. Sun-chieh is taking Edgar F and me to a tea house in the neighborhood, then Li-Yun arranged for David, me and members of their class to go night fishing-" We will not eat dinner before or we will vomit" That's the first time we have been advised NOT to have a meal, then tomorrow we leave for an overnight trip to Nantou in the middle of the island, home of Sun Moon Lake so stay tuned.
We were on the move all day - Started at Longshan Temple, went to the President's Hall, which is only open once a month, then had lunch with a former student of David's. David went to teach, Chenlin took me to a gift shop where all the museums conveniently sell their wares (In return I taught Chenlin the word tchotchke) then to her hair salon, where I indulged in a shampoo/massage which is a thing here, then to the hall of Sun Yat-Sen, THEN we met Li-Yun and her family- to walk through the campus of another university NTU (National Taiwan University) where her husband works, and through another night market and GUESS WHAT?? WE ATE DINNER!!!!!! Including, but not limited to: squid salad and pork dumplings and shrimp wrapped in lettuce and bean soups and bamboo shoots and milk pudding with mango sauce - Hong Kong style dining.
LI-Yun Wang is a professor of politics of education policy and David's teaching partner. Last night she took us on an excursion to a dim sum restaurant that she assured us was THE BEST and through two of the night markets. It's the sort of trip that we could never managed on our own- especially the restaurant which was a whirlwind place- everything went by at warp speed, including conversations. The night markets are streets and streets of small shops and restaurants lining narrow streets that stay open from 3 or so to 1 or 2 AM. You can buy all sorts of things- including the most delicious dessert- shaved ice with sweet cream and mango pieces. MMMMMMM! Just when I think I can't eat any more, I eat more.