We make holes in teeth!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Taiwan Day 22 - Halfway There

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

This morning is a hot breakfast. I slept in and didn't wake up until 6:30, and went to get coffee then woke Nat up since she told me to the night before. She hemmed and hawed a bit, but soon went out and got a few dumplings, and a cruller wrapped in dough. It was solid:

Maybe around 8:00 or so I decided to head out on the McCruiser, which is the loaner mountain bike that was my only good ride this morning. The road bike is on the IR and needs some serious attention. So I took all the accoutrements off the handlebars, removed the reflectors, pulled off the blinkey, raised the saddle, and hit the road. The first thing I noticed was that the bike was extremely upright. I felt like this is as close as you can get to standing on a bike without actually riding with no hands. I felt like I had less control, and it probably explains a bit more why so many of these kids bob & weave on the road, since they're all setup like Sunday drivers.

I headed up towards the Aborigine footbridge with the idea to cross that washed out road and take the unpaved road up towards the backside of TaiPing Shan. I had no plans of going the distance there, but I did want to see what I was up against. On the way there, I heard more sounds in the trees, and at the same time saw orange trees that had been more or less bum-rushed by some animals, so I slowed down and looked around, and sure enough the trees were full of monkeys. I pulled out the camera and of course, it didn't work. I'm pretty sure that one is cooked.

A little further up the road and I was chased by 2 wild dogs for a while. I know by now that they're all bark and no bite though, so when they would get close I would yell at them and they would jump away. Eventually they stopped chasing and I continued on to my gravel road. When I got there however, there was yet another one of the river dump trucks there, with a bulldozer digging out upstream from the road. A guy in a truck yelled when I went past him, shook his head no, and yelled, "Road broken!"

I'm sure if I would have kept going he wouldn't have followed me. But I have to assume that the road is either washed out or a landslide has closed the road at some point along the way. I may go back someday to see if the guys are still there. But I'm going to guess that it won't serve as a back door to TaiPing Shan on this trip. Who knows though. They do work pretty fast here so maybe it will be all clear in a week. One thing I'm impressed with here is turnaround time. I've seen entire storefronts go from empty shell to working store in 5 days. The bureaucracy doesn't seem to be as absurd here.

I turned around and did a little light exploring on some new roads, but like I've said before, all the roads go straight so it's pretty hard to get lost. I did end up on a dead end along a river which turned into a bunch of small farm plots. But I turned around and then just headed home. I did get some clear skies after some early light rain.

Back at the apartment I do some work, but I need to wait until a bit later for the test systems I'm working with to be down, so I do all that I can then head out and we run some errands. First we stop to feed some fish, then we head off to her cousin's jewelry store where Nat gets her necklace clasp adjusted. Next door she then gets her glasses adjusted. On the way to look for some lunch, we find a temple and bring Julia for her first visit.

These places are very ornate and interesting to go in and look at. Nobody cares what you do, if you take pictures, nor asks you for money nor food. They supply the incense that you can take and do the customary rite with, if you so desire. I'm not well enough versed to say what any of it is, or what it means. I just take pictures of the stuff. I do know that the food on the tables is something called "bai bai" which is an offering of sorts to the ancestors, or in this case perhaps the gods.

On the way back we stop for some apples then at a small stand by the apartment for some lunch. We get nothing new, noodles and wantons, soup, veggies. All standard lunch fare, really.

Back to the apartment again and I finish up my testing in the window that I can, they do a few other things that popped up while I was testing. A bit later we head out again, this time to the big Giant bike shop down the road. They have a solid road tire that I buy, as well as some brake pads which I need for the rear. Nice score on that front, but not sure it would have been an easy trip solo. Then we went upstairs to look at some of the eye candy:

It's hard to believe they even sell nice bikes in this country, the way the road decimates anything you ride on it. We talked to the girl at the shop for a while (well Nat did) and I asked how they keep their bikes clean here. She laughed, and said that one of the guys who works at the shop actually cleans his bike top to bottom every day. I totally feel that, as it seems like that would be the only way to keep a nice bike looking good. She also told us about tours that Giant does around the island, a 9 day venture that costs like $800 or so, food, lodging, and support included. Maybe if we come back next summer I'll do something like that.

After the bike shop we hit a 7-11, a bakery, KFC for Julia, found some fresh strawberries, then swung by the night market for a late afternoon snack. The strawberries ended up being a bit pricey, but fantastically good. Julia also wanted to take a quick pit stop to play the fishing game. Here, she contemplates the deep mysteries of the universe before diving in:

We headed home so I could start to work on the road bike. I got the tire on with no issue and it feel nice and beefy, which I like. It's actually a bit wider than what I had on, which is nice as it gives me a bigger patch of rubber on the road. I'll take every bit I can get and may go back to get one for the front. I had to battle a bit to get the old brake pads off, but I finally won and put the new pads on. A quick lube of the chain and it's ready to go again, which is good since the McCruiser was certainly not a perfect fit.

Dinner is a big box of food that we actually split. Rice, a huge hunk of meat, 2 veggies, tofu, and another small bit of meat. Pretty good, but not really enough food for the 2 of us. After the garbage truck came, Nat went out to get dessert for us. She got her usual sweet soup with sticky rice balls, and I got my favorite, which is the taro ice cream dessert burrito with shaved peanut candy and cilantro. It was too light on the cilantro though, so it wasn't as good as it could have been.

Discussed some weekend plans today, but not having a car limits us a little bit. Looking like we may go to Taipei with Nat's uncle on Sunday and hang out with her 2 English-speaking cousins. Then we'll crash at Calvin's and then head back down here on Monday at some point. I was hoping to watch the Jets game Monday morning but it turns out that they're not on TV. I just don't even know how to comprehend that. I may have to call Darin.



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