We make holes in teeth!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Taiwan Day 13 - Wild Dogs and More Food

Full picture set of the day here: Flickr set or slideshow.

Let's kick off the day with a little breakfast:

This is from the bakery, more of a sweet twisty-like thing with a little coconut and cranberries. It's good, definitely a solid and fairly unhealthy breakfast. Add a cup of coffee and I'm good to go for the day's ride. Of course, it was wet when I went out for coffee this morning and it was actually raining at the time. By the time I got on the bike nothing had changed, and I was stuck with a rain ride again today. As much as it rains, I think I've only had to ride in it 3 times so far, today included.

Today was a tougher one, as the temps are as cold as they get, probably near 50, and a light, but steady, rain. Went around the far side of town and took a road I haven't taken before into SanXing, which is the scallion center of the county, apparently. Then I shot back towards home and took a detour to climb the Toughest Climb again, this time from the temple side up, then back down the normal route. This is as close as I get to a loop here, but the climb is an out and back (or maybe not) so I go up, then go down.

Before signing the book I kept going and found that there's actually more to the climb, albeit nothing of note like the big one. And the road surface gets iffy which made today's slick roads even more "interesting". Soon I found myself in farm land, with tea being the main crop up here:

This was the only pic I took, because I had my raincoat on and it was difficult to get anything out of my pockets. Also, I was freezing and my hands were numb from the cold and didn't function properly. The road kept going, but there was no clear climb ahead of me and I felt like I was in a bit of No Man's Land up there. The road likely wound around the tea fields and dropped into a hole where thousands of other unsuspecting white people have met their doom. So I turned around and went back to sign the book. Not many people have been up there lately, the rain probably keeps most of them away.

On the climb up I was met by a pack of wild dogs, which is always good times. There were 4 of them, and all but 1 was afraid of me. The last 1 was interested, and he showed signs of being about to take a bite out of my leg, but I yelled something at him ("splitters, go home!") and he got skittish and ran away. While the roads weren't really new on the ride, the pack of wild dogs was a bit of a new experience. The dogs around here are a menace, by the way. They're pretty much everywhere and as predictable as the scooters.

Aside from the dogs and the big climbs, I saw a lot of birds today. I should also note that potholes are almost non-existent in this country. I did see one on the way up the climb but they are very few and far between. Almost back to the house, I was playing Suicide Taiwan Biker like I usually do in town, and my left foot unclipped by mistake and I ended up with my left foot on the ground. Somehow I managed to save it, and I didn't fall over. This pedal has been giving me issues lately so I need to be careful of that. If it happened at the wrong time this trip could take a wrong turn in a hurry.

Got back and Nat's 4th and 5th aunts had brought food over for us. One brought some taro cake and the other some salted duck. We would end up eating both of these for dinner later in the day. I suspect that since more of the family is reading this, copious amounts of food gifts will start to arrive to make sure your narrator is happy and well fed. Now if only one of them could land me a mountain bike I'd be all set.

For lunch, Nat's uncle took us out to the same place we had gone with Darin on the first Sunday. We were running a bit late and the FIL drove like an absolute maniac in an effort to get there in 4 minutes instead of 5. At one point, he cut off a taxi in the right lane then laid on the horn as if the other guy was at fault. Anyway, we got there about 10 minutes late and Nat's aunt/uncle were already there. They have no children on Facebook that I know of, so this was not any sort of well-laid plan to get their names mentioned in good favor.

Lunch was awesome. For whatever reason, it was better today than that first Sunday and this may have been the best meal I've had since we got here, which is saying something as we've had some really good food. As usual, you can check the full picture set from the link at the top. I describe every picture as best I can, and try to take a pic of most things, but certainly anything new that we eat. I'll post a picture of dessert, which was this sort of rich cake in sweet pineapple sauce with cherries on top.

After lunch I got a coffee and got to work while everyone else went to see Nat's oldest uncle. It was another productive day at work and I'm thinking that it might be beneficial for me to always work when none of my coworkers is awake, as I have far fewer distractions and annoyances this way. It was a rare moment of having the apartment to myself so I plugged in the headphones and listened to some music for a bit and zoned out while I did some work. This was enjoyable, as I haven't listened to music since I was on the airplane coming here.

I planted the seed that Nat should put out some feelers and see if I could land a mountain bike for some further exploring. Aside from the quarry road, and the road that ended prematurely yesterday, the road near the Aborigine bridge appears to turn into dirt at some point but goes on for a long way into the mountains, and is actually a backside approach to the TaiPingShan climb. Likewise, another climb near yesterday's is a dirt road, as evidenced by the user-loaded pics on Google.

Nat's cousin's son, from here on known as Crash (my nickname for him) said he might be able to land an actual mountain bike and not the hybrid that most people ride here. He also said he wants me to try out some of the company's products while I'm here, which I'm more than happy to do. That's where I got the hydration pack from the other day, BTW.

Nat also told me that Calvin read some of the old blog posts, and made mention of the butter-in-law title. I actually laughed out loud at that, as did Nat when he texted her about it. We're off to the south of the island tomorrow with the BIL and family. I'm sure he'll make mention of it. He also told me the other day that he's not the mole, and in fact suggested I drive that day.

At the bakery during the afternoon errands run, Nat told me that everyone there probably knows me now as the white guy who comes in and eats all the samples, even though they're always the same and I never buy anything. I don't understand how I stand out from the crowd, save for the fact that I'm taller than everyone and I'm white and I moon walk everywhere I go. But really is that so out of place?

Did a bit of playing with Julia's animals before dinner. I like this pic:

Dinner was the duck and taro cake (from 2 of Nat's aunts) which were both good, plus some fresh cabbage as well as some leftover fish ball soup. This looks like raw meat but it's not. Quack quack. eat up! Eating when we get back home is going to be so lame.

After dinner, the painting of Nat's grandmother who passed away finally arrived and the FIL went down to get it. I have to say, even though it's a painting, it looks remarkably like an actual photo. The guy who did it apparently did the painting of Chiang Kai-Shek that hangs in the CKS Memorial in Taipei, so I cannot begin to fathom how absurdly expensive this thing is. The FIL was carefully trying to find somewhere to put it, and he plopped it against the wall between the 2 couches. After he walked out of the room I suggested to Nat that when we woke up, her mom would be there and the painting would be in bed with her dad (but not, you know, "like that").

Tomorrow we're off to the south of the island, taking the high speed rail to GaoXiong. Not sure what we're going to do there, other than sleep and eat. No bike for 2 days so the Fear Factor aspect of the trip will be half gone for 2 days. I may also not be able to post day 14 until I get back. We'll see.



  • At 7:33 AM, Blogger terren said…

    Your best one yet Norm, add me to the list of those who lol'd that Calvin read the butter-in-law title. Awesome. When I first read that your relatives were starting to read the blog I was like, aww man, he's going to have to tame it down... but clearly you don't care. Way to sacrifice for us, your readers!


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