We make holes in teeth!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Taiwan Day 2 - The First Ride

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

Day 2 begins at 4:00 and change. We all get about 8 hours which is fine for Nat and I but Julia needs more. Still, nothing we do works and she's up for the day just after 4:00 as well. I slept well, waking up only for 2 minutes at 1:20 to the sounds of fireworks and cheering. Apparently it had been going on since midnight, but I heard the last 2 minutes. I was tired. We lay in bed for a bit and head out to look for breakfast at 5:30 only to find nothing open. We settle for 7-11 coffee and buns. I love the tea eggs but it's too early for this:

Back at the apartment I dial it up for my first bike ride in Taiwan. I'm ready to go at 7:30 but Nat wants me to wait for her dad to make sure I have my directions right. After some discussion he sends me out a different way than I was going to go, but more or less the same roads. My plan was going to be to ride out a county road until I was halfway, then turn around. This was sends me out in a loop and returning the same way. This looks like a good basic loop of the county and brings me to the foothills of the mountains I'll be ready to climb before too long.

Temps were surprisingly cold, having dipped into the 40s overnight. When I started it was about 50 or so, but given what we came from it was more than warm enough. Riding through the traffic was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. In general I avoid high-traffic roads at home so everything was a little intense for the first few minutes. Before long I was out of town and things got pretty quiet. It was nice to get out and I ended up with a solid 2+ hour loop, doing some climbing and seeing sights I never experience at home, such as roads being closed due to landslides. This never gets old to me. This is much bigger than it looks in the pic:

My legs were jetlag-dead still but came around after an hour and change. Coming back to town I really started to feel good and when I went through a town then back to Luodong, I lost some of my fear in riding with these psychopaths on the road. The cars are somewhat predictable, but the old blind people on scooters are tough to judge. I can't wait to get some video of riding in this. Managed to not get lost and found my way back, which is so much easier said than done here. The GPS with the ride track helped at the very end, since every intersection of these towns all look the same. Saw this along the way back:

First ride of the new year! It was still 2010 in NJ when I finished up.

Nat was out getting a haircut and came back when I was just about done with the shower. Lunch was back at the apartment again, just some food that Nat and her mom went out to get plus some rice & veggies that Nat's mom made. More liver, some pig scalp, and a few other things. Another bang up meal of things that most people would be less than thrilled to eat.

After lunch we went out to pick up a few things and saw this guy walking around. Not sure if he was a monk, but he was sorta doing a walking meditation as he walked. He had some form of ID around his neck. Not sure what that was all about:

The shops are a block away, and have more cheap garbage that you can possibly imagine. Many people think that China sends all their cheap garbage to the US, but Taiwan has just as much of it, and it's even cheaper than most of what you see in the states. Here is a pic of the 2 haircut girls with a bag of Chinese garbage:

Mid afternoon and we start some of the relative visits. First, Nat's dad wants to get me some of the famous scallion pancakes but the line is too long. People appreciate their food here:

We stop and try to get a data plan for my iPhone, which I really want because I want to post up my Facebook status as, "Data plan, bitches!" While the price is right (less than $30 for a month of unlimited data) the guy there says we should go with the company across town because the coverage will be better. I'm down with that but I'll need to wait for Monday as they're closed today (holiday) and Sunday.

First stop is the FIL's sister where we have some tea and snacks. One of Nat's cousin's is there and he can speak a nominal amount of English. He also rides a road bike and was super excited to talk to me about it. His English is probably worse than my Chinese, so I feel completely comfortable in actually answering him in Chinese. The conversation is neat for a bit, but he wants me to commit to a ride Sunday morning and I have no idea if that will work out or not. I'd probably need to ride there if I actually want to make it happen.

Second stop is FIL's oldest brother, and it only ends up being a short visit.

A quick run to the market for juice (and my go-to tea) and I find the beer cooler. I find it hard to believe they import this shit to Taiwan:

Dinner is night market, but at the house:

Night market. In general, you don't get night market food and bring it back to the house. But Julia is fading and it's cold out. So Nat and her folks go out and just pick some stuff up while I sit here and write this and Julia plays her game. Dinner is oyster pancake, which is nothing at all like a pancake, as it's oysters, eggs, and starch topped with a red sauce of some sort. They also get a Chinese hot dog (small pork sausage and a "bun" made out of rice) and grass jelly, which is just a name for some dessert.

Bedtime is early again, 8:30 and we all hit the sack.



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