Two Language Cross-Cultural Puns

We were out driving yesterday and ran across the sign for a small cafe.  It was 8 Na Na.

Get it?

The word for eight in Chinese is “ba”.

You need to know both Chinese and English for the cafe name to make sense.  Banana Cafe.

I love it.


Strawberries for Christmas

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.


Spring Break Exploring

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.

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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.


Exploring Taichung

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.

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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.



Another Roadside Attraction

We took a few days to explore more of the area around Keelung before summer school started.  As we were driving highway 2 around the northern coast of Taiwan (highly recommended – very scenic), we ran across this just outside of Jinshan.

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So of course we had to stop to explore.

Clearly this is intended for a nighttime light show.  There were a few people around “getting ready for the real tourists” and they decided to just let us explore rather than try to have a conversation with people who were so clearly foreigners.

The backdrops were filled with different scenes and figures that light up and move.  In the center there was a bit of a stage for live performances.

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The whole thing looked like it could be quickly put together from printed plastic sheets and bamboo scaffolding.

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The offices, like many inexpensive buildings here, were made of repurposed shipping containers.

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This place was fascinating.  I think it is the Confucian (?) equivalent to vacation bible school.  The hotel manager suggested that it was for the blessing the local fishermen at the start of the squid fishing season.  I wish that we had been able to arrange our trip to go back for an evening show.  We’ll keep this in mind for next summer.

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