December 4-9, 2015: Catching up with Mike in Central Taiwan

Not many tourists (at least, non-Chinese tourists) come to Taiwan, which made it an AWESOME place to visit and explore. The added fact that very few street signs, menus and websites are in English only enhanced its awesomeness. But above all that, getting to see one of my best friends from college, Michael, whom I hadn’t seen since he moved back to Taiwan (almost 5 years ago) was what made this portion of our trip one of our best. And we got to meet his brand-new fiancé, Tzu-Han (Anne)!

We spent the first week of our trip with these two, hanging out and exploring the sites of central Taiwan. After that, we ventured out on our own, braving the elements and forces of the Taiwanese universe (but we’ll discuss all that in the next post). For now, check out the debauchery and shenanigans that we were up to with Mike and Anne!

Disclaimer: a very large portion of this post revolves around food.

Miles walked:                  25
Miles transported:       ~700

Taichung City

Landed in Taichung and started our visit in Taiwan with… food! Naturally. Had hot pot, a traditional Taiwanese meal, with Mike and Anne!

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And KOALAS for dessert!!!!! This may not mean anything to some of you, but I hadn’t seen these babies in AGES. Strawberry always was (and still is, apparently) my favorite!

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First day in Taiwan – went to see the “Sea of Flowers” festival in Xinshe:

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And saw all kinds of cool flower arrangements:

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And a fight!

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Met these cool little dudes:

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Samsonite made himself at home:

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These are all made out of cotton candy!!

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Rewarded our hard work of looking at flowers with some delicious Teppanyaki:

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Checked in to our Airbnb that night, which was a room right above a Japanese restaurant in the middle of the night market. We had to walk through the actual restaurant and then the kitchen to get to the stairs that led up to our room. It was awesome:

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Checked out the night market with Mike and Anne:

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And tried a bunch of different local foods, such as the oyster omelette:

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And takoyaki (originally a Japanese dish, but the below is the Taiwanese twist). I absolutely loved watching these being made:

And… stinky tofu!!! Which smells like ass, but tastes DELICIOUS:

Lukang Township

Took the train down to Lukang Township in Changhua County to meet up with Michael’s friend Wan Chun, who gave herself the English name of “Sleep”, but we ended up settling on “Karen”. Together, we did some sightseeing in Lukang, starting with a walk along Lukang Old Street:

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Where we saw some prettttty interesting street food:

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And flying pancakes!

Wished for health (the naked dude is health apparently, while the baby is fertility, the dude holding money is wealth and the student is… you guessed it… education) by dusting off our beer-pong skills:

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And went to check out the Tianhou Temple:

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Where an awesome festival was taking place:

Then headed out for the “Ribbon King” Museum/Factory, where, you guessed it, they make ribbons! And, in fact, export them ALL over the world. The ribbons you tore off all your holiday gifts this season? Probably made here. But before we even made it in to the factory, Francy found himself in a face-to-face battle with a full-grown turkey in the parking lot:

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Francy successfully escaped the terrifying turkey and we made it in to the museum:

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Where we saw EONS of beautiful fabrics:

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And EXTREMELY random things, such as the girl from the ring:

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And this:

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And this:

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And then we got to make our own ribbons! We even got to dye them any color we wanted! Joy, oh joy!

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The final products:

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And then enjoyed these beautiful ribbon arrangements on our way out:

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Like… REALLY enjoyed…

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Nantou County

Took the bus out to Puli Township, a city in the Nantou County of central Taiwan. Stayed in this adorable little hostel in the middle of the city called I-Puli hostel. The owner was the NICEST guy ever. If you are planning a trip to Taiwan and end up in Puli, we highly recommend this place:

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Rented scooters and spent our first day in Puli doing some local exploring:

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I have never seen so many dogs in dresses in my life. Every other street shop seemed to sell doggie clothes and goods. It was incredible:

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First stop – Guangxing Paper Mill, where we learned how to make homemade paper (which we’d already seen in Bhutan, but it was cool to see it on a much larger scale):

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And then got to make our own decorative paper scrolls! Step 1 – hold up blank piece of paper for photo op:

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Step 2 – Beat the parchment:

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Step 3 – Hold up completed scroll for photo op:

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Step 4 – wait… what?

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We then made our way over to King Garden – a cool castle with awesome decorations and sights predominantly mocking past and current world leaders. It was great:

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They had a beautiful front garden area, where a live traditional Taiwanese band was playing:

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And a giant-sized chessboard and chess pieces sat waiting for some great photos!

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And now, for the fun stuff… Ma Ying-jeau (current President of the Republic of China), in Forrest Gump form:

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Kim Jong-un (Supreme Leader of North Korea) doing’ the Gangnam Style and Park Geun-hye (president of South Korea) doing… Cyndi Lauper? Or maybe Madonna? Any other suggestions?

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Chen Shui-bian (former President of the ROC), excellently representing the Green Lantern:

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Not sure who this guy is, but he makes a damn good Captain America:

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This one is by far my favorite (no explanation needed, I hope!):

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The unknown extra two members of the faux-Beatles:

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And finally, the Mount Rushmore of drunk Asian leaders, which I found to be more impressive than the real one… does that make me a bad American?

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After the fun of King Garden, we made our way over to the Hung Gee Bees Farm to see how honey is made! Unfortunately, they had just closed, but the owner (I think?) let us in and showed us around, showing us the bee hives, explaining the way the bees collect the pollen, make the honey, and then how it is subsequently collected. We even got to taste some!

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As always, making friends everywhere he goes!

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The beautiful gardens of the bee farm:

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Whoa!!! Maybe next time, bees! Maybe next time!

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Met up with Anne and paid a visit to the Paper Dome – a church literally built out of paper tubes! It was built in Japan after the major 1995 earthquake and then donated to Puli, Taiwan after the 921 earthquake in 1999:

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Finished off the evening with Bubble Tea (which had already become our daily addiction) and some cards:

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The following day, we made an excursion to Cingjing Veterans Farm – “The Green Green Grasslands”:

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Where sheep were roaming freely:

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No, but like, actual sheep:

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Even Samsonite got to hang out with them:

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And apparently sheep… are awesome! I had no idea they were this entertaining:

I also had no idea I carried this passenger with me for a large portion of our visit:

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The clouds and lighting were lookin’ pretty awesome, which made for some cool shots:

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Finished the day off by continuing his trend of trying each country’s version of a Red Bull…

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Last day in Puli (and with Mike and Anne!), we all ventured out to Sun Moon Lake – the largest body of water in Taiwan! Took the ferry across the lake to a small aboriginal Thao town (I forget the name and can’t find it online):

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The town had an awesome market and we ate a whole lot of delicious street food. But most importantly, we met this lion dog:

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And Samsonite got to say goodbye to these two amazing humans!

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Thank you both for such a great time. Can’t wait to see you back in California soon!

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