We make holes in teeth!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taiwan Day 15 - Heading Back North

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

Day 15 started where day 14 ended, which was in a hotel in the south of Taiwan, GaoXiong to be exact, or as far as I know. We made no effort to get up early, since we assumed everyone would sleep in a bit. Around 8:30 the natives started getting restless and we woke up Julia and went to breakfast which, as always, was about 8 minutes of peace then 30 minutes of me walking her around and distracting her and trying to prevent her from throwing up by looking at everyone's food. These group meals suck in that regard. It's difficult to enjoy myself half the time when we go out to eat. Here she is eying up my breakfast, which is congee (rice porridge basically):

After breakfast we went upstairs and packed our stuff up, and the kids played well for a while and I took the opportunity to not do anything at all. These trips are tiring, as little as we actually do anything. And just sitting in the chair watching the world go by is enjoyable when I get the chance. Soon enough, that party ended and it was time to head out. On the way out of the hotel, we could see the Ferris wheel wasn't running yet. You could also see blue sky:

Hopped on a shuttle bus which took us to the amusement park entrance, and also brought us around the grounds of this veritable compound. There must be at least 8 huge hotels, a half-mile long mall, and a university, as well as all sorts of construction going on. In the end, we could have walked in about half the time it took us to get there but it was neat to see everything around the area. I noted to Nat that there seem to be a lot of Asians that go to the school there. It's almost like we're in Boston.

After a circuitous combination of road crossings, escalators, mall entrances, and bridge crossings we made it to the amusement park entrance, and shortly after that to the monorail, which was going to bring us to the other end of the park. Another half mile away or less. In all we ended up traveling maybe a mile which probably took all of about an hour. For sure, this wasn't the HSR.

The idea was to start at the end and walk back to the start. The end was indoors, which was nice because it was insanely bright outside. The weather was nice, probably low 70s when we got there. But the morning haze makes everything brighter and it actually hurt my eyes because it was so bright. All the kids stuff was indoors and at the far end anyway, so aside from a little walking outside, we ended up being inside most of the time.

Many of you know that our daughter is a big wimp so finding anything for her to ride was a difficult task. Some of this started rubbing off on Lydia as well, and between them they really didn't go on many rides. One thing they both liked was driving these little cars on a track. An adult could sit on the back and help a bit, which of course means they could drive it for them. We had some fun, and Julia really enjoyed when I got on and we started ramming into Nat & Lydia:

After this the whole day went to hell when Julia and Lydia got on this kiddie log flume. They seemed ok when they got in, but when they started going around the loop, I saw that on the back side there was a small up & down, which I knew was going to be trouble. I ran around to the other side to watch, and as they went up I heard one of them scream. When they came up to the top Lydia was crying, and Julia looked like the terror. When they got to the bottom, Julia started crying. Lydia stopped, started again, then by the end they were both screaming and crying.

Good times!

That was pretty much the end of it for Julia. She was more or less broken up for the next hour, and Lydia showed signs of being skittish as well. They both went on a ride or 2 more, but it was a lot of looking and not much doing after that. We stopped to get lunch at a sort of McFood place inside the park, and it was a bit better than you'd expect but more or less as expected. Outside, we could see something brewing, and it turned out to be a bunch of white guys making morons of themselves:

The only justification to this would be that this was a huge joke and they were getting the last laugh by getting paid for this. This was bad, and when I say bad I mean utterly atrocious. Just awful. Eventually some reasonably attractive woman in white started kinda dancing around, but I think it was more of a slow-motion ice skating routine without ice. I'm not sure what was more surprising, the act or the fact that people actually stayed to watch it all. Incidentally, it was supposed to be some sort of reenactment of the Trojan Horse thing, though I'm assuming it's the sort of Clif Notes version of the Clif Notes.

We walked back the 1/3 of a mile or so to the other side of the monorail, and did none of the rides because there really weren't many, and the ones that were there were not 4 & 5 year old friendly. Nat, Calvin, and their dad tried to go on something, but Lydia flipped out and that was the end of that. I had taken Julia inside because we knew she was going to scream if she saw Nat try to get on. But in the end, no rides were done by the adults, which is fine by me since I'm a big baby and hate amusement park rides.

After a quick ice cream stop, we left the park at about 2:30 and started the long, long journey home. First we briefly waited for the shuttle but decided to walk the half mile to the hotel, which I'm sure was faster. Then we grabbed our luggage and the cars and drove back to the HSR station. Nat's dad got some tickets for an earlier train (I told you, he likes to be on time, so on time that we ended up leaving 45 minutes early), and after getting some coffee, drinks, and snacks we were on the train back towards Taipei.

I forgot to mention that it was well into the 80s and the sky was blue again. Take a good look, this is likely the last blue sky we'll see until we get back to NJ:

On the train, we bought an extra ticket for the kids so they could sit in a chair instead of our laps, and of course they took 2 seats which meant the White Shadow got to find his own seat. For most of the trip I was able to poach one behind everyone, but between the last 2 stops I ended up standing behind the kids. Nat gave me the green light to listen to music which was nice because that's what I wanted to do anyway. We got back to the station at 6:14, right on time.

It was Friday night and Taipei traffic is awful, so we grabbed dinner in the station at a place called Mos Burger, which is the first meal I ever had in Taiwan when I originally came here 10 years ago. So it holds a sentimental attachment for me. I have to say, it wasn't as good as I remembered it. There may be something about the first meal after your first full 24 hour flight that simply cannot be beat. I may have been ripe to love anything I ate for that meal. I also remember taking a shower after that first flight, and how great it felt. Finally, I remember falling asleep in the apartment that day 10 years ago waiting for Calvin to come get us and take us to dinner.

Anyway, dinner was a "burger" of sliced pork inside a rice bun. Good not great:

We hit the road and we were all tired, to be sure. As we got closer to home the phone rang and Nat's dad's friend was on the phone. It was then I heard the 2 sounds (1 word) that I'm starting to dislike more than anything in the Taiwanese language. That is something that's pronounced "me-yacht tsai" and which means "tomorrow". Basically, I totally have a Pavlovian reaction when I hear that word. I start to cringe now and my defense system starts to say, "no no no no no no no no no!"

The reason I dislike this word so much is that it's basically the start of Nat's dad starting to plan the day for us. Apparently someone wants to take us out to lunch, and at this point in my day I want nothing more than to go home and pound some beers. So I let my eyes roll back in my head and focus on the beer.

When we got home, 6.5 hours after we started the journey, I pound the first one in about 10 minutes, then slowly work on the second one to enjoy it a bit more. They're both good. I deliberate a 3rd one but the buzz from the first 2 is plenty, so I get ready for bed instead. Bed is a welcomed end to these long 2 days.



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