So, when was the last time I updated this thing? September 12, that’s when. Since then we’ve done Halloween and Christmas at school; I’ve ventured to the south of the island on high-speed rail and the north of the island on my scooter; I’ve met my host family and the Taiwanese president. Winter has come, which means cooler temperatures and rain, which in turn means bundling up for school (there’s no heat) and living in a perpetual state of wet (just bought a dehumidifier). But we’re trying not to let the drizzle put a damper on anything. (Get it?) When we got three days of sunny skies last weekend after 27 straight days of rain, I took to my scooter to enjoy them to the fullest.
On Saturday, after agonizing for about 15 minutes on my balcony about the best way to soak up the sun, a friend and I hopped on my scoot to pick up some delicious baozi at a town about 20 minutes away, then hauled it up a mountain near our favorite beach to Mr. Brown’s Coffee Castle. Mr. Brown is the king of canned coffee in Taiwan, and this castle is his. . . castle, I guess. We just sat there, letting our baozi and coffee sink in, taking in the view of Turtle Island below.
Refueled and ready for more scooting, we headed for Jiaoxi and a festival we had heard about that morning. All we were going off of was a woman who said she thought her family would go to a festival (celebrating what, she didn’t know) in Jiaoxi that day, but turns out we found it, and turns out it was celebrating Jiaoxi’s hot springs, its most famous attraction. Far in the distance was a large stage, on which my friend swore she saw some Native American dancers. They were actually South American, but dressed in traditional clothing much more like America’s indigenous tribes than Taiwan’s. They spoke English and so, as we suspected might happen, they picked Charissa out of the crowd to join them on the Mayan drums. She worked the crowd like any waiguoren should, and then we stayed for more drummers, unicyclists, and a Taiwanese rock band before scooting back to Yilan and making the split decision to eat for the first time at our new night market. Another off-the-cuff bit of awesomeness, which spilled over into Sunday, too.
The sun still shining–albeit less brightly–on Sunday, Charissa, me, and my scooter, plus three more friends and two more scooters, drove up the northeast coast of Taiwan, lots of time and few plans in tow. Our first stop was to climb among some of the huge rocks that line the coast, about 45 minutes into our drive.
Another fifteen minutes down the road, I glimpsed a few boats and some tents and told my co-pilot to pull over. We ventured down a flight of stairs, and BAM! There we were in Daxi at about 2 p.m., prime time for the fishermen to be selling the day’s spoils. My eyes kept bouncing from one thing to the next as I walked down the narrow path along the docks, the wonderfully colorful boats on my left, the bright tents and equally colorful seafood on my right. There was no shortage of activity, and that kind of bustling atmosphere–like the night markets in Yilan and Luodong–is the best for taking photos.
I didn’t think it could get better than the fish market when we hopped back on our scoots again. And yet, a half hour and a handful of incredible views later, there we were at the San Diego Lighthouse, on the easternmost point of Taiwan. And, funny enough, it wasn’t the lighthouse, but a litter of stray puppies, that made this stop so memorable. Though Taiwan has little of the trash or other unpleasantries (word?) that would show up in mainland China, it does have a huge number of stray dogs that are consistently annoying and occasionally really freakin’ scary. But these ones were just precious. We played and played and then sanitized our hands. By the time we were done, the lighthouse was closed, but we left happy and (hopefully) germ-free just the same.
So, the time being late afternoon and our hearts being filled up on puppy love, we headed back down the coast to fill up our stomachs on some taro ice cream and celebrate the end of a gem of a weekend. The skies had grown cloudy, but the rain held, and it managed to hold until Monday afternoon.
Now it’s Wednesday, it’s rained the past three days, and it probably will for the rest of the week. And that’s why they say, “Nothing lasts forever.” And that’s why we say, “We enjoyed it while it lasted.” And it’s also why I say, “I hate rain.” It’s going to be hard to ever look at it again without thinking of riding my scooter in the dark; my helmet visor pulled down, keeping out the water but fogging up from my breath; my rain poncho keeping everything dry except my hands and a little of my pants because it’s Taiwan length, meaning it ends before my rain boots begin. The weather will be like this through February at least, and I’ve been told to venture south on the weekends if I want downtime without the drizzle. Look forward to updates on that in the future.