It’s New Year’s Day in Taichung. Almost all of the shops and restaurants are closed. The streets are empty, and the highways are crowded. Most people have traveled to their parents and grandparents in the country to be together for the New Year holiday. So we went for a walk.
We were fortunate in passing by this small shrine near our apartment when the lion dancers performed. It was too loud for Luke.
Pretty soon the dancers were done, packed up, and off to the next temple.
Every temple and every religion (and there are any here) has their own New Year’s celebration.
We fed the fish.
Xin nian kuei leh!
The strawberry season in Taiwan starts in December, just in time for Christmas. Yesterday we took Christine and Joan’s suggestion and drove north to the strawberry fields. We hopped on highway shield 3 (not flower 3 which is larger, nor squiggle 3 which is smaller – you get used to it) and drove an hour or so into lovely foothills. The road was lined with orange trees (they are also in season now)
and wild poinsettia bushes
and cute (Taiwanese are very big on cute) giant strawberries,
and small, well-tended strawberry fields. Dan stuffed his feet in the provided plastic boots and headed out to pick his own.
He got a little carried away. We have plenty of strawberries now. Fortunately they are pretty tasty.
We headed back home through the misty, jungle foothills. Lovely day.
Our daughter and her boyfriend were visiting us recently (visitors! we had visitors!) so we took them to Keelung, one of our favorite places.
They had already visited us for a week then went to Thailand for a week to visit his sister and were stopping by for 24 hours on their way back to New York. We had a lot to pack into 24 hours.
We picked them up from the airport and whisked them to the hotel. Their plane was late so we thought we had to skip the first market, but they were ready for an adventure. First stop…Keelung Night Market. Jaime was willing to try anything.
We nearly closed down the market at 1 am and staggered back to the hotel. We had a slow start the next morning. But there was time to buy a couple kites from the vendors outside the fish market.
Then it was into the fish market. There is an aquarium recently opened in Keelung, but I don’t know how it can compete with the variety seen in this fish market. The fish were so fresh that the market didn’t smell fishy at all. And the colors!
After a little breakfast sashimi,
we took our guests along the coast and up the mountains to the old gold mining town of Jiufen. Now it is primarily a tourist town. The old street is fascinating. It’s filled with interesting stalls and shops.
Then it was time for a quick drive back to the airport and waving farewell to Laine and Jaime.
Typhoon Matmo is headed straight for us. While that sounds dire, Taichung is actually pretty well protected. Most typhoons sweep in from the Pacific Ocean and hit the east coast and mountains in the center of Taiwan before eventually dumping rain on Taichung. Even so, we are looking forward to the Taichung equivalent of a snow day. The big billboards around town are furled in readiness for the storm.
It gives quite a different look to the place.
Friday was Children’s Day in Taiwan and we had the day off school. We went for a walk in one of our favorite parks. The park was full of families.
This particular park has a stream that extends through the neighborhood.
Nearby was a popup puppet theater. These theaters are mounted on the back of a little blue truck and are usually parked at temples. I think they do the equivalent of bible stories but we really couldn’t follow the plot.
The music and dialogue is recorded and there are people in the back to work the puppets.
Time once again for spring break exploring. We arranged for cat care (thanks, Christine!) and took off on our favorite road to Hualien. What a spectacular day! Beautiful views and lovely weather.
The cherry trees were blooming.
We found two traditional markets just blocks from our hotel. I tried to restrain myself to just buy apples and bananas for the drive back.
The trip home turned out to be more of an adventure that we really wanted. We thought we’d try a new route across the mountains this time so we stayed on Highway 8 instead of turning off on Highway 14. This part of Highway 8 is clearly more of a working road. The guardrails are not kept as neatly painted as on the more tourist road. It’s a little wider, but not as well repaired. It’s also steeper. But it is beautiful.
There were fruit orchards along much of the road.
And then there are the landslides. At this point we were carefully let across once car at a time, with one man assigned to just watch the slope carefully for more slipping.
And the construction/clean up.
We were very thankful to get off this particular mountain road.
We’ve spent the past few days trying to get lost in Taichung. Pick a random street, go along a ways, and there we are smack up against a street we know. Turn the next corner and there’s another one. We’re slowly expanding our mental model of the city.
I’ve been able to introduce Dan to a few of my favorite places here. We found ourselves on Gongyi Street the other day and decided to visit the traditional Japanese teahouse. You may remember the aggressive carp.
We were seated upstairs across from a couple enjoying books and tea. Lovely.
Another day found us in Taichung Folklore Park. We’ve tried to find this in the past but it was closed or just eluded us. This time we forgot about it until we turned the corner and there it was.
It has a brand new parking garage but other spaces seem to still be in process.
Today we found ourselves at Taichung Metropolitan Park. This park always seemed a little overbuilt to us. It’s far away from the center of town and always seemed deserted. But today was a beautiful day and we finally saw the park as it was meant to be used.