We are family: three weeks in Taiwan

Damn, time flies. These three weeks in Taiwan have gone quickly, thanks to my family showing M and I a great time.

Here are some of the things we did:

Tuesday, 4 Oct||
Day trip to Yehliu Geopark to check out Queen’s Head rock (crowded and touristy) and the Twin Candlesticks at Shitoushan (great evening hike and awesome view right on the water, not touristy)

Wednesday, 5 Oct||
Hung out at my cousin’s board game shop – yes they’re a thing here! Tried out a variety of games like Carcassonne, Ask Anything, and Tofu Princess…
Thursday, 6 Oct||
Checked out the Miaokou seafood night market in Keelung. Super accessible on Taipei’s train system directly from Taipei Main Station, and at Sankeng station there’s a sign in English (“Miaokou Night Market”) that points you to a tunnel that takes you a block from the market.

Friday, 7 Oct||
Went out with our Taipei Airbnb hosts and their AIT (the US consulate equivalent in Taiwan) friend one night for dinner at a local place, dessert at a popular “smoothie house”, and wine at Café de Vie, a hip and well-stocked wine bar owned by a French guy and his Taiwanese wine. They served us cheese and nacho cheese Doritos with the wine, which was delicious!
Sunday, 9 Oct||
Was invited by our new AIT friend to a movie night at her neighbor’s place. Turns out AIT puts their foreign service officers in a few apartment high rises around Taipei, so we got to check out the nice digs and meet some other officers and their families and friends. We had various Taiwanese snacks and watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Reefer Madness, and Killer Condoms. It was awesome.
Monday, 10 Oct||
Celebrated Taiwan’s National day by riding the glass floor Maokong Gondola in Taipei to a mountainside tea house. We had afternoon tea Taiwanese style, complete with all the tea-making tools and soup dumplings for a snack. Cribbage was also played 🙂 We found out on the way down that there were morning celebrations and a parade, but on this rainy day I think we made the right choice


Tuesday, 11 Oct||
Spent a night in Sun Moon lake with my uncle H and his fam – rode bikes around the lake, rode a boat across the lake, played a bit of rummy accompanied by some Japanese whisky we brought from Osaka. I got eaten alive by mosquitos here despite putting on bug spray.

Wednesday, 12 Oct||
Took my first yoga class in Mandarin at my uncle’s health club in Taichung, followed by a late night swim/hot tub session in their outdoor pool.
Thursday, 13 Oct||
Took the bus down to Kaohsiung to my dad’s side of the fam. The sun feels hotter in southern Taiwan (but also it was raining much of the time we were in Taipei), so naps are a regular thing here. Yes please. We biked around Love River and stopped at an outdoor art exhibit where the Kaohsiung Film Festival will be held next week. For dinner my cousin took us around Kaohsiung’s big night market – this one was huge. We ate and checked out about half the stalls before calling it quits and heading home.

Friday, 14 Oct||
Drove with my big uncle, aunt and cousin to Shousan to check out the view of Kaohsiung from the top of a mountain. On the drive back we saw the effects of the three typhoons that passed through in the two weeks before we arrived: two boats were tipped over, blown in from offshore, and there were power lines down, trees blown over, and a sinking shoulder on one of the roads we drove on.

Saturday, 15 Oct||
The five of us took a day trip to Meinong, where my dad grew up. Our fam has property there, and every time I go back I stop by my dad’s piece. It was cool to show M where my dad spent his childhood. We climbed Linshan in the morning to get a view from above, and a lady noticed the many mosquito bites on my legs and offered me her cream for them. So grateful for her kindness – this stuff does wonders! We spent the afternoon at my cousin’s grandma’s place. We took a tour of her place, which was a sod and tobacco farm. She also had a few chickens, a rabbit, a peacock (!) and about five dogs – one of whom I fell in love with right away. He was a playful hound pup stuck in a cage during the day because he loves to chase the chickens. We also took a nap on traditional tatami mats during the hottest hours of the afternoon. Then we headed to a giant buddha museum on the way back to Kaohsiung – it felt like a really nice hotel with buddhist statues throughout. Spent the evening having dinner with everyone and then drinking tea that little uncle poured.

Now I’m on a Ho Hsin bus on the way back to Taipei. $20 gets you a business-class experience: cushy reclining seats with a blanket, an entertainment system, free wifi and USB charger, and a fridge with cold water. Definitely unexpected, and enjoying the ride. Looking forward to our last two days in Taiwan, and excited for our next stop: Vietnam.


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