Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reflections of Taiwan

My dad came to visit me in Taiwan!  He was here for about two weeks, and we had a fantastic time.  I asked him if he would write a "guest blog" so everyone could hear some adventures in Taiwan from his point of view.  So, this is my father's debut blog.  Enjoy!

Find It, the customs dog of Taipei, seemed very interested in the chocolate chips cookies in my backpack. The human agents were less impressed.
Sam and company were waiting, even tough I was 10 ½ hours late. The terminal floor in Hong Kong was fairly comfortable. Sam and I still recognized each other, so signs announcing that they were looking for me were not needed. Off to Sam’s apartment, and the adventure begins.
Wugu Apartment

Wugu from the rooftop

The first place Sam took me, a small gay guy tried to pick me up. I told him I was flattered, but uninterested. The memorial at 228 Peace Park is really beautiful, pictures of protesters engraved in glass.

Pick up hot spot

2-28 Memorial

Engraved glass

At the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, it was Falun Gong, marching band, breakstep dancers and the changing of the Honor Guard. The soldiers stand motionless for an hour at a time. Tassels on their rifles reveal any movement.
Falun Gong in front of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

Break dancers

Guard at CKS Memorial

Standing in front of CKS Memorial

Several days and much fun later Sam and I are off to Hualien to bicycle Taroko Gorge. I discovered that the Papa Baker buys rule is international. We met a young man at the hostel while drinking beer. When we went to dinner, he came along, he was a very nice guy who has been on the road for 8 months. We ate, laughed, talked and when the bill came, it only seemed logical that I pick it up. Just like El Rey, far east division.
Oyster omelette in Hualien night market

Luice, the bike rental guy took us half way up Taroko. We had 6 hours to coast 18 kilometers and descend 1100 meters. The road, the central cross island highway, was inhabited by cars, trucks, buses, scooters, tunnels and one-way areas of construction. We fearlessly strapped on our rented helmets and joined the traffic. The Gorge is gorgeous, and the ride was invigorating. Until we decided that it would be a good idea to ride 2k up to an aboriginal village for lunch. ‘Up’ is the operative word here. It seemed vertical. The restaurant had stopped serving as we walked in. Maybe they smelled us coming. Three bottles of water and an ice cream bar assuaged the need for calories. Getting back to the highway was all downhill, as was the rest of the Gorge. We stopped for a drink at the Eternal spring memorial to the workers killed building the highway.
Riding into a tunnel

Taroko Gorge

On a break... and on a fence

Eternal Springs Shrine

Sweaty, but happy!

Luice took us to the Taiwan Brewery visitor and practice center for refreshment. The forbidding of climbing into the koi ponds is very strict, I think.
Much-deserved brew

Chinglish at its finest

Closing for now, let me encourage you to go to Taiwan. Be the tallest person around. Watch the kids try to stare at you furtively. Eat whatever lands on the table in front of you. Use the sticks to eat. Forks are hard to find, and the pointing and laughing make it hard to chew.
On Elephant Mountain with Taipei 101 in the background

Paul Baker

1 comment:

  1. Glad you stayed out of koi pond, international incidents are SOOOO unpleasant. Well done - picking up the tab. Will have to remember that about you. Super pix!