We make holes in teeth!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 11: Solid Vacationing

I wake up at 7:00 feeling exhausted. I think I'm giving myself too much credit for being able to handle all this running around and then throwing the exercise on top. The bed we sleep in is rock hard, which I thought I liked. But it's tough to sleep well and it's catching up to my back. Thankfully Nat's parents go out to get breakfast and I can sit on the couch and relax this morning while Julia sleeps a bit more. She wakes up a little before 8:00 and eats toast with cream cheese. This kid costs a fortune to feed in this country of cheap food. Dairy is cost prohibitive here - cows need land and this island ain't got any. So the cheese is literally imported from Wisconsin.

We have coffee and a rice ball for breakfast, which is the best rice ball ever! This is what I remember, not the generic one we got up in Taipei. This one is packed with flavor, just awesome. Costs about $1 for 1, which is less than the coffee. Talk about cheap. We need this shit in the states.

After bumming around a bit Nat and I go out to the Barista coffee which is more expensive than Starbucks. Nat got some Milky Way thing which is a mocha with sugar and I got a large coffee. Again, I ordered mine in Mandarin and was able to actually understand the question and answer this time. The cost was $240 NT. With the exchange rate at 30:1, that means the coffee cost $8 US, which is sick expensive. Even in this rural town there are ways to spend your money exorbitantly.

Nat taught me how to say bed, so now I can ask, "Where's the bed?" Nat doesn't think this will do if I'm stuck here by myself. I can always sleep on a park bench. Perhaps I should learn to say, "Where's the motel?" or "Can you spare some change?" or "Will work for rice ball," or maybe just, "Where's all the white women at?"

After coffee we run some errands out in the busy market area which still bugs Julia out a little bit but she's getting much better. It's windy as hell and looks like rain but it never comes down on us. I take Julia back to the apartment by myself and we take a detour and win another parlor game and bring home yet another Doraemon character. Back at the apartment Nat's dad and I hang out and entertain Julia while we wait for Nat and her mom.

For lunch we meet Nat's cousin for Japanese. So we walk out of the apartment to get the car, drive out to get her cousin, end up parking the car in the same place, then go to the Japanese place around the corner from where we're staying. Talk about a silly round trip. We end up walking further for the car than we would have walked to go right to the restaurant. Over lunch, they ask if I want wine or beer, and I decline. They ask about Saki and I say ok, I'll try some. Well this is a mistake, as any Saki means a lot of sake. So we toast each other endlessly until I'm well on my way. Thankfully they don't try to bury me and I walk out with nothing more than a solid buzz. I also walk out with a full stomach as lunch was another meal of waves of food, too much food. How are these people not all fat?

Julia asleep by 1:30, during which time I take the opportunity to relax. I'm buzzed, so getting on the exercise bike isn't happening. I didn't really want to get on anyway. I'm pressing my luck and don't want to totally burn out over the next 4 days before I leave. So I'm resigned to being an anchor for the time being. Once I'm back home I'm going to ride my bike for 14 straight days. Seriously I may do that.

At 3:00 we take off and leave the monitor with Nat's mom while Julia naps. She offers to give us some free time so we jet and hit some stores along one of the many store-lined streets in search of kiddie utensils and a new teapot, as ours is cracked as of last month. It was a really good pot, sentimentally speaking. It was made entirely of glass and we've had it since my first trip here in 2001 on our honeymoon. It's a bummer that it chipped around but that's the way it goes.

While we're out we see a 3rd bike shop in town and of course get a snack on the way, just a little 33 cent snack for no other reason than it being there. Eventually we find a department-like store but the elevator brings us to the parking level and we end up in the offices somehow. Then we take the stairs up to another parking deck, the second deck that has no cars in it. We eventually find an elevator to bring us there and we pick up a few things but find no teapot.

Back to the apartment and we go upstairs to Nat's aunt's and bum around with them for a little, Julia likes playing with Nat's cousin's 7 year old kid. Nat's dad comes back from his mom's and drives us the equivalent of a 10 minute walk to see his other sister. That's the last required family stop for his side of the family. Now we just have Nat's mom's oldest brother for lunch Thursday and we're all set.

This stop is short, under an hour all told. They have a 4 year old granddaughter who is both good and bad with Julia. She reluctantly helps her with some toys but then flat out refuses to let her play with some things. At one point she unplugs the keyboard Julia is playing on and Julia throws a tantrum and runs to the center of the living room where we're all sitting and stands with her back to us, like Jim Morrison at an early Doors concert. She does this for 2 minutes until they talk the other girl into plugging it back in and I convince Julia it's ok. She sits with me for a minute then runs back to play.

Back at 6:00 we give Julia dinner then head out with the stroller for night market while Nat's parents go out and have dinner with their friends. It's nice to have some free form time and I'm sure they're happy with the down time as well. I win a 3rd parlor game but Julia flat-out rejects my latest Doraemon winning. We strap it to the stroller and go on to eat pork blood soup and a rice dough and meat concoction at our first stop. Second stop is a Chinese hot dog, which is a rice sausage that's cut in half and used as a bun then a regular sausage slapped on it. We then get 3 different desserts and head back to the apartment with a quick detour to get french fries for Julia.

I sit and feed her fries while Nat goes out to a store she wanted to check out. Julia poops, so I get her ready for a bath and take a bath with her. She always likes taking a bath with daddy. So I wash her and dump water on my head for entertainment while Nat finds some teapots for us. After her bath we just hang out. It's a nice relaxing night for us, even though Julia is chock full of energy and jumping on the couches all night.

To recap we have 1 last required relative tomorrow then I have a full 48 hours of vacation left, all of it in Taipei. We'll be out of Lotung by 10 or so and lunch is noon. Getting her back to Calvin's will be a chore because she'll be pressing her luck with nap by then but hopefully it works out. Today was a good day all around. Good stuff, nice solid day of vacation.

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  • At 6:00 PM, Blogger terren said…

    Another great recap Norm, very enjoyable. Glad to hear the vacation is going more smoothly now. Although, it needs to be said, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, you're like a woman the way you're obsessing over your weight. Relax, you're on vacation. Your body's not going to forget all the hard work you've been putting in. I think your biker friend was right, the one who suggested before you left that taking a few weeks off can be good for your fitness. Also, don't forget how quickly the weight came off after the cruise... just a few weeks, right? So live it up and be an anchor. It makes for better reading, anyway. And isn't that what it's all about, entertaining us?


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