Walking in the Neighborhood

Lani and Heather claim this was a long walk. I think it was more of an everyday walk with a few little detours.  Our destination was Ou Jyi Tea for pearl tea and snacks.  Detours included temples and flowering cherry trees.

This is the Buddhist monastery that we can see from our apartment.  Very peaceful.  We passed at least two other temples on our walk.

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Heather and Lani were determined to find good cherry blossoms to photograph. These trees were next to one of the canals.

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At Ou Jyi Tea we ordered pearl milk tea, green tea with orange pulp, and aloe tea.  Lani and Heather have become huge fans of green tea with fresh (really fresh) fruit in Taichung. The orange tea here was the winner, although the pearl milk tea was also terrific with fresh, soft and chewy tapioca pearls.  (Note: these are small drinks. The medium size is big enough for a meal.  I have no idea how I would finish a large drink here.)

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And we ordered a few snacks.  Heather liked the radish cake.  I liked the cabbage dumplings.  We left the chicken gizzards to Lani who thoroughly enjoyed them.  She offered to share but we declined.

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Showing Off Our Town

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We have friends visiting!  Lani and Heather are here for two weeks. Before they arrived I made a long list of things to do with them (and only half the list was things to eat).  Much to our delight, Lani and Heather like markets and eating as much as we do.  They are now huge fans of Mr. Wish tea, every kind of dumpling, and a huge variety of fresh fruit!

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The first day of their visit we went to both the morning market and the dirty market, then showed off the school (with an impromptu game of badminton) followed by a much needed tea break on the roof of the bicycle cafe and a hike up Trail #3.  We finished off with dumplings for dinner.  Since then we have paced ourselves a little better.

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It’s so good to be able to show Lani and Heather what a great place Taichung is.  Lani says,

“I highly recommend Taiwan. It is such a wonderful place with such a lovely culture. I’ve never felt so safe while travelling and getting around is so cheap. Taxi drivers don’t kick you out, no one is trying to scam you, the parks are beautiful and clean, the people are so friendly, and the variety of street food is mind boggling.  Downside is there are not whole lot of people here who know English and practically all signs and menus are in Chinese. Having said that, it doesn’t stop them from trying to help us.”

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This week is a short one due to a national holiday. We plan to spend the time showing Lani and Heather more of the countryside so they know more about Taiwan than just this city and where we hang out.  They both take great photos so we’ll have more to show you as well.

Anthony Bourdain Eats in Taiwan

I just found an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Layover show in Taipei. He loves Taiwan night market food. We do, too. This show even covers the shampoo experience here. This is a great preparation for visiting Taiwan.

Be warned, Anthony Bourdain can be quite crass. Mom – you won’t like this.

Aggressive Goldfish

I joined Vicky and her visiting friends at a relaxing traditional-style teahouse in Taichung.

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The fishpond is the centerpiece of the teahouse.  It had the most aggressive fish I have ever seen.  They climbed over each other to get to the fish food we threw in the water.  Definitely reminded me of the lessons learned in this book.

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(technically these are koi)

Fireworks, Heart Balloons, and Dancing in the Park

Last night we heard fireworks (expected) and music (unexpected) in the street.  So of course we rushed to put on our shoes and join the party outside.  We followed the noise to a side street where there was a small crowd setting off Roman candles and firecrackers. There were some costumed figures and a group of young men carrying something on a platform that bounced and twirled.  As the procession moved down the street a clean up crew in black t-shirts swept up the firecracker debris.

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Since we were already outside and it was a beautiful evening, we walked on to the park.  We arrived just in time to see the launch of a paper lantern.  It’s lantern festival time.  These are small hot air balloons made out of rice paper and heated by a small burning block of fuel soaked wood.  You write your wishes for the new year on the lantern, light it, and launch it into the sky.  This year the lantern day fell on Valentine’s Day so many of the balloons are heart shaped.  (note: heart shaped hot air balloons are inherently less stable than round balloons)

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The lantern disappeared into the night sky.  We turned around to see not one but two groups getting their evening exercise line dancing in the park.  There are still a few people doing tai chi in an evening, but by far

the most popular exercise in our park is line dancing.  There were at least five groups in the park last night, plus another in the school yard.

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We live here!

What is that?

The vegetable ladies in the market are determined that I try some new things. They have been slipping unusual fruit and vegetables in my bag and telling me (gesturing, really) how to eat them.  Here are a few that we’ve run into recently.
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We’ve been calling this one eel vegetable. It starts as a long stalk with a silly fluffy thing at the end.  The vegetable ladies carefully peel it until it looks like this.  I’m supposed to slice it and cook with garlic.

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We just found this yesterday. It looks like overdeveloped broccoli stalk.  I think we’re supposed to cook it like broccoli.  We were told it was special to Taiwan.

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This is not to be eaten.  It is special for Chinese New Year and looks sort of like a relative of pineapple.  All top and no fruit.

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