Hot Pot and shaved ice

After Taitung, we had a long journey in front of us – we took the train and traveled half way around the island to Taichung, the city, where our friend Johannes lives and which would be the base for our adventures. Once there, we met Johannes and rented a car for the next day. To make best use of the car-time, we went out that same evening and drove up to a hill from where one can overlook the whole city and enjoyed the view even though, the lights on the public buildings have just been switched off.

The next morning began at 4 o’clock again, as we were heading to the Sun-Moon Lake and wanted to be there for the sunrise. We arrived there just in time before dawn, found a nice pier, set-up our equipment (videos below) and enjoyed the show. 🙂 When the place started to get crowded, we headed to a small restaurant and had a typical Taiwanese breakfast. And as we were at the lake already, we drove around the lake, stopped for a photo session at a museum, visited a 7-stories pagoda and an impressive temple at the shores of the lake. With every stop, the place became more and more crowded – in the early afternoon the lake was full with tourist boats and the parking lots had more and more buses, so it was time for us to drive back and find something less crowded. Johannes came up with the “wetlands” in Taichung, which are comparable with “Wattenmeer”, a huge area of tidal mud fields, being partially flooded during high tide. The wind turbines around the area made it look even more like northern Germany. 🙂 We’ve stayed there until after the sunset and spent the time with interesting conversations about life in Taiwan.

We’ve spent the next two days with things, you normally wouldn’t do during a vacation, but some of them we needed to do and others were a nice piece of routine / normality: Michael got a new haircut, which was totally overdue, we both went shopping for new clothes, as this was also overdue and Taichung offered the shops we know and can rely on in terms of quality and price, we went to a cinema (a bit exhausting for Michael as the movie was in Japanese with Mandarin and English subs) and ate more local food. 😀 The good thing was that you could bring the food from the night market into the cinema. So we enjoyed the movie with fried chicken, Taiwanese sausage, some blood pudding and tea. YUM! One of the highlights was a dinner invitation by Johannes’ friends. A local family, who invited us to try Hotpot. The first surprise was, that even the eight year old son could speak English and follow our conversation! The meal was a pot with soup, placed on a hot plate and kept cooking for the whole time (hence the name hot pot), different veggies, mushrooms and very thin slices of meat of your choice or sea food were all cooked in the pot. It was delicious and we enjoyed spending time with local people and getting insights in their life – a very un-touristy experience, which we highly appreciated. At the end of the evening, we got invited to the family’s home for some plum spirit and more conversations about life. 🙂

An important detail, which made our stay perfect: Remember, that my credit card got stolen in India? Well my dad sent the replacement to Johannes and it arrived safely – Thanks to all involved again! We had a great time in Taichung and enjoyed the mix of seeing the surroundings and getting an insight into the “normal” life on this beautiful island.

As we were flying to Japan from Kaohsiung in the south of Taiwan, this was our last stop. The city is located at the sea and so one of our stops was an island located in front of the city and offering a great view over the sea and the city at the same time from the light tower. Before we took the ferry to the light tower, we had to try a portion of the famous “shaved ice”, which as the name says is shaved down from a bucket-sized rotating block of frozen fruit juice. Michael went for “red berries” and Alice took the original Mango flavor. Both were served in monstrous portions, which were big enough to keep us entertained during the whole ferry ride and even after that! Before sunset, we decided to climb a hill (whyyy do they have hills everywhere?!), where you can have a great view over the city and it has a “LOVE” sign on the view point, which we decided to use for wedding greetings we were recording for our friends. When climbing a hill, every short cut is welcomed, so when Michael saw one, he decided to try it out… Stray dogs playing on an abandoned tennis court were quite interested in him, but it worked out. Alice had a much safer passage as the dogs didn’t bother her. 🙂 (you have to look dominant 😉 ) Once we were up, the usual procedure followed: we blocked a nice spot and let the camera do the clicking until it got dark.

Early next morning, we packed our backpacks again and went off to a new country and the fulfillment of Alice’s dream: Japan!

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