Tastes of Taiwan (Day 5): The Mountain

Breakfast: Fan Tuan (Again!)

Woke up and decided it was time to go get another fan tuan and another dragon fruit. On the way to la tienda de fan tuan, I snapped a creeper pic of this cute little kid carrying his lunch and walking to school by himself (the lady in the picture isn't with him, they went in different directions after crossing the street). My uncle was kind enough to buy me a large, cold bottle of coconut water. I don't really like coconut water but I think this one was sweeter than the kinds I've had in the U.S.

Lunch: Mom's cooking

Let's see what we have here:

  • Fish (I stayed away from that, I can't deal with fish bones)
  • Clams
  • Edamame
  • Zongzi (Taiwanese tamales)
  • Some green vegetable (cannot identify Asian vegetables)

You're doing good mom! :)

Taiwanese-style cheesecake for dessert. American cheesecake has crust with a rich, creamy cheese layer. Taiwanese style is one layer throughout, it has a light and fluffy texture similar to sponge cake. 

Afternoon Adventure: Guanyin Mountain

Time to explore Taiwan's great outdoors. I just really enjoy the lush, green mountains all around this island. 

All in all, it was about a 2 kilometer hike to Yinghan Peak and about half a kilometer in elevation. The first 500 meters was hard. The humidity and elevation combined with the fact that I haven't run in a while made me feel really sluggish. I was dripping sweat. After that first leg though, I had warmed up and I started to feel really good and there was a heavenly breeze blowing through the trees on the mountain. 

I realize that pictures of the mountain probably aren't all that interesting.You have to actually be there and climb it. It was so fun! I broke away a little from Dad and Pat and decided to take a detour on a different path towards Jianshan. I'm really glad that I did. The path I took was completely unpaved and the terrain became much more treacherous... Just how I like it! At one point, the trail was so steep that it was almost straight up and it was like actually climbing. No one else was there, it was just me and the mountain.

Unnecessary video to show how sweaty I was.

However, I didn't make it all the way to Jianshan. After about 20 minutes on the road less traveled, I had to turn back because I was afraid that Dad and Pat would be waiting for me on Yinghan Peak (our original route). If I had been alone, I would have continued on, but, alas, I must return to my comrades. Still, it was a wonderful adventure and a great experience and I'm glad I chose to go. Fortunately, by the time I had arrived at Yinghan Peak, Dad and Pat hadn't been waiting long. 

The view was spectacular. It was really cool to be able to see the coast on the right, the river's mouth, and all the towns alongside the snaking water. Danshui,  Wuhu, Beitou, Gongying, Bali- these towns were visible in their entirety. It was like one of those strategy games where you get a top down view of the cities laid out over a map. It was amazing to be high up enough to see where each town began and where it ended. Danshui's famous fisherman's wharf and Lover's bridge were easily identifiable from this distance. Taipei City was also visible on the horizon to the right. I just love how compact Taiwan is that you can actually see multiple landmarks from the peak of a mountain. 

Snack: Milk Bars, Honey Water, and Coffee

After descending the mountain, soaked with sweat and exhausted, we headed to the town of Bali for a sugary pick-me-up. 

Such cute tiramisus! Elean would have liked this! :)

Such cute tiramisus! Elean would have liked this! :)

We ducked into a bakery and nibbled on milk bars (4 for $100 NTD), tiramisu, coffee, honey water, and every possible free sample they were offering. I felt like an exhausted bee sipping on sugar water. I definitely felt an energy boost. By the way, the milk bars were amazing! I didn't think I would like them and I thought about giving mine to Pat but thank goodness I didn't! It was lightly sweet, crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside.

We also got to try a new fruit we bought from a lady selling them from the base of the mountain. They're called "yangmei" in Chinese and I found out that they're called "bayberries" in English. They taste like strawberries and they have a pit in the middle that's good for sucking on. Cool!

We picked up my mom from class (she has some kind of seminary class on Tuesdays) and then headed over to the grandparents' house in Neili. She looked cute with her backpack; she reminded me of that kid I saw earlier... 

Dinner: Grandma outdoes herself

Back at the old folks' home, the sugar high was wearing off and I was starting to jelly again. 

Food please. Finally, grandma announced that dinner was ready. "YAY", I shouted. 

The food was worth shouting for. What a spread!

Look how excited I am!

Look how excited I am!

Cute little tiger. 

Cute little tiger. 

We had clams, fatty slices of pork and chicken (each with its own dipping sauce), duck (dipping sauce for that too), bean curd with pork belly, pickled cucumbers, green beans, and thick scallion flat bread. Pat said it was his favorite meal of the entire trip. Personally, I enjoyed the tastes and experiences of Jiufen Old Street the night before, but I really can't fault him for his preference, the meal was pretty dang good.

Climbing the mountain was the highlight of my day and Grandma's dinner was a comforting finish. When we got home around 8 PM, I showered and went straight to bed- out cold soon as my head hit the pillow.