Day 16: Saturday
Yesterday I got all my laundry done, all of it. By 9:30 I was at Benny’s cafe working on a language learning post. I’ll get to it tomorrow.
喬丹 met me at Benny’s and then we took the train up to Shilin and then looked around for the number 30 bus to take us to the National Palace Museum. We looked for about 30 seconds and then I hailed a cab, which ran its red light and slowly and awkwardly pushed its way through oncoming bicycles and pedestrians to get to us.
Once at the museum, we found the secret elevator to take us to the secret tea house on the top floor. There we shared a table with a lady lunching on her own, a mom and two adorable elementary school kids, and a Canadian couple living in Thailand. The food up at the top was pretty ok. The Canadian dude was doing some funny Mainland stuff like calling across the room for the 服務員… precious! The mom was showing her son and daughter how to have afternoon tea, and also helped me order some sticky rice that had special names at that place. The daughter was enthralled with me after I spoke with her mom; she marveled at me, contemplating as she chopsticked her green tea mochi ball.
The stuff in the National Palace Museum was pretty nifty. The quick and dirty story is that the KMT grabbed a bunch of stuff from the Forbidden City as they evacuated, safeguarding it from the Japanese and the PLA. We saw the bronze collection, the jades collection, a couple of calligraphy and painting collections… skipped the furniture gallery because we were getting museum fatigued.
Cabbed back to the metro and then train back to our neighborhood. I got dinner alone later at KGB; a gourmet hamburger that didn’t quite do it for me. The fries were great, and I walked through Gugong to get some overpriced frozen yogurt, and then stroll back through the neighborhood.
Day 16: I Marveled Twice Today.
I had an early breakfast and then met PaShan T at 7am. We trained to the bullet train station, I bought my tickets and then we went back up top to find some coffee and breakfast for him.
After that we found our way back to the bullet train station; the train wasn’t ready for us, but there was free wifi!
We got on the bullet and then we were in Hsinchu before you could say “bless you.” The best part of the ride is of course when the train emerged from underground and you could see country side; towns with rice patties scattered in among the buildings.
Hsinchu M met us at the bullet train station, which was a MARVEL. It felt spacious and simple and futuristic and I thought I might be living in the Jetsons world. We got in his car and he handed us a couple of frozen bottles of water and then we drove for two hours to 日月潭 Sun Moon Lake, which is a National Park. When we got there, we took the sky lifts to the Aboriginal Park, which is this Indigenous People themed crazy fake in a bunch of ways and probably a little insulting but still it was an easy day for us… them park within the national park. The sky lifts were spectacular. We had lunch at the Maya Cafe, underneath a fakey fake Maya pyramid. On the menu for us: Teddy Bear fried porkchop.
After that, PaShan T and I crossed the lake in a boat where a guide was doing some stand-up comedy tour-guiding in Chinese. We met up with Hsinchu M on the other side, and then went to find the Paper Dome, which is a tourist trap. Back in the parking lot, we tailgated a yellow watermelon, and spit our seeds onto the gravel.
Then we drove a couple of hours back to Hsinchu, which was a lot of traffic. Hsinchu M old us we could take a nap so were LIGHTS OUT IN NO TIME FLAT, NOT KIDDING. The man told us to sleep and we SLEPT. Finally we got to a Thai restaurant and ate well: papaya salad, panang curry beef, braised fish, grilled chicken, cabbage, and a shrimp cake.
Freeway>bullet train>metro>home. But not before Hsinchu M could gift us with heavy red mangos.