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August 17, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 34

I love hanging out with Taiwanese people. Aside from living halfway across the world, they’re not all that different from us. I just spent the whole day hanging out with Jessica, Tiffany, and their three friends from church- Dora, Bug, and Michael. Let me just reflect a bit on how awesome the name “Bug” is. It’s pretty awesome. (His chinese character in his name happens to translate literally to that). I think it’s brilliant- next time I’m writing a story, I’m naming my main character that. Anyways, all of them are great people, actually. Together Bug and Michael are two of the funniest and most energetic guys I’ve yet to meet in all of Taiwan. Dora and Tiffany assured me that not all Taiwanese guys are like them, but it’s so much fun hanging around them! I love how close they all are, and how they hang out so much outside of church.

Soo like usual, I woke up just in time for lunch today, which wasn’t surprising at all since I had another pretty late night. But I couldn’t help staying up and trying to catch up on blogging as much as I could- the rain outside was so peaceful and the fan so lulling inside. After a quick cold shower, I got ready to go out. The thing is, there is little to no hot water here so the freezing cold water that I use to shower with really wakes me up.

I went from freezing cold to burning hot, though. Already it was pretty toasty outside. My aunt and cousin brought me to a local beef noodle shop. In the US, you have to drive twenty to thirty minutes to eat anything decent, depending on where you live. In Taiwan, you have to walk maaybe 30 seconds to find the best food at all these local vendors. Apparently my aunt was familiar with the owner too, an elderly couple that really knew how to make noodle soup. The broth was delicious, the spiciness was off the charts, and the beef was good stuff. The noodles were so thick I had to eat them one at a time.

 

We met up with Jessica and Tiffany at the subway station, where we took the transfers to Beitou. We visited the Kaidegelan Museum, which had some cool displays and some nice artwork.

 

Along the streets:

We also got some popsicles on the street beforehand, which came in taro, red bean, champagne, and peanut flavors. I mean, you never see flavors like that in the US. But they’re actually all really delicious. You won’t believe how good a flavor peanut is in popsicles until you try one.

Beitou naturally is a tourist attraction, so there was plenty of good food around. We had some eggs and tempura and snow peas before going to look at the opening of the hot springs.

We walked onto the bridge and was shrouded in mist. Mist with a slight sulfuric smell, but nothing too heavy. It was really cool, actually, leaning over the railing and watching the current of cool air blowing away the mist coming off the water surface that was over ninety degrees Celsius.

View of the hot springs from the bridge

Closer up…

…WAY close up

Michael and the “Do No Climb” sign in chinese

 

We then took a glance around the Beitou Hot Springs Museum. And by take a glance around I meant that we went in and sat down on a bench for a good half hour. Well, first we walked around the whole outside looking for the wrong entrance, and then we met this cute little girl who kept talking to us about the alligator and cupcake she had! Sooo cute. Bug had a fun time playing with her, at least.

 

At that point we had stalled for long enough, and we finally decided to get some food in Gonguan. The night market was amazing as always. SO MUCH FOOD.

First this awesome street vendor shop where you pick food and then they cook it for you:

Then fried green onion oil pancakes, which were so delicious I almost cried:

 

And sausage wrapped in rice:

And tempura, sweet potato rice balls, fries, and other fried stuff. And bubble tea. How could I forget? Bubble tea is like the life-blood of Taiwan. So many different stores and chains to try and experience!

 

I’ve noticed that Taiwanese people are accustomed to bubble tea as a drink. They’ll get it as a drink to accompany a meal and just down it like that! As for me, it takes a long time to finish my tea. I savor each sip and chew every pearl that I get. When I order bubble tea, I think of it as its own course. After all, it’s too filling to have as dessert right after a large meal, and it’s too dense to have simply to quench your thirst. So I think of it as a treat to get on its own. No distractions, no side dishes, no other food to get in the way of the taste. Yeah, I feel pretty strongly about bubble tea. The one we got today was only $30 NT, or the equivalent of $1 US!!! As long as I have bubble tea in my hand, I’m happy. I seriously was thinking of possibilities for me to bring bubble tea back home with me.

We walked around the National Taiwan University a bit too, the place where my dad went for college. The main boulevard reminded me somehow of Stanford a lot… maybe it was the palm trees. Or the way the straight road went all the way down to meet up with the building. It was pretty at night.

 

One of the largest churches in Taiwan:

Sad after no more bubble tea:

Typical busy lighted street:

We got shaved ice shortly afterward, at a pretty nice place. Mmm mango and peanut, two of my favorite flavors. So all in all, a good end to a pretty good day.

 

Close up:

 

On the way back I decided to get a haircut. The stylist was very knowledgeable, she did a good job explaining to me my options. Apparently my hair is very short for guys in Taiwan. Even though I haven’t cut it since I came to Taiwan. And even though I have medium hair compared to others in the US. I wanted a certain style but she said my hair was too short for it D=. I got my hair washed too, which was fun and relaxing. The guy at the place wanted to practice English so I had some nice conversations with him.

Me chatting with the guy while he washed my hair… a bit awkward but interesting at the same time

We finally made it back and just relaxed for a bit. I watched Ninja with Joseph, which was really good. It was a violent movie but passing in terms of entertainment. And then I was raging at the Olympics just now. Brazil vs Japan women’s soccer game was on, and right at the 28th minute, Taiwan tv allows a commercial break and covers up the lone Japan goal. So mad! It was literally only for like 45 seconds too, and just happens to come at the most important spot in the game.

The Olympics have been awesome, my only regret is not being able to follow them more closely!

I’ll miss you Joseph!

My lovely aunt… thank you so much again!

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