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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Taiwan Day 3 - Hangin' with Darin

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

Wake up closer to 5:00 today, so I'm pretty much a normal schedule. Today is Sunday, my last day of pure freedom before I have to cobble together some sort of work plan. Yesterday was unsuccessful in finding a back-up connection. There's an Internet cafe a block away so we can try that, though Nat says it's a little seedy. I may just ride it out until tomorrow then figure it out, which surely sounds better than it really is. It's a bit of a scratch workday of sorts, since our 5:00 pm is 4:00 am on the East coast. So I'd be more or less done working before they even started. I can back-load the day a little bit if I have to.

But that's tomorrow.

Today I kicked off the day with my first foray into the world on my own, a trip to 7-11 to get coffee. With 1 small glitch, I'm able to get 2 cups of coffee. The "small glitch" is that I asked for a cup of hot lard instead of actual coffee, so Nat had to be happy with the fact I brought home something that was hot and had sugar and creamer in it. Growing pains.

Breakfast was rice ball again, but this time the better kind, though I have to admit it wasn't as good as I remember it being. Ingredients are rice, fried dough (cruller), pickled veggies, dried pork, and egg, as well as some sort of sauce. As usual, banging:

Then, I had to pay the piper and go for a bike ride with Nat's cousin. I had a feeling that this was going to be a slow ride. Yesterday when I told him how fast I usually ride he nearly fell out of his chair. But like a trooper, he called this morning and still wanted to go. I had a few minutes to get ready and in that time I managed to figure out how to get the work laptop connected with the ADSL router and was able to remote into my work PC. So before 9:00 the work connection issue was solved, as was the blog posting issue. Now tomorrow I just need that data plan and I'll be connected again.

As soon as I stepped outside I knew I was in for an interesting ride. Wearing jeans and about 12 layers of clothing, Darin (as he calls himself) was waiting for me. He also sported a small radio mounted to the bag on his handlebars. I think I mentioned yesterday that his English was so bad that it made me confident in being able to speak Chinese to him. This was well and good for casual conversation with Nat's dad as a translator. But with just us, things were...interesting.

Darrin was a good sport, but I have to be honest, my man isn't going to be riding a bike for a living any time soon. Not that I am, mind you. But he...well, he isn't. We were keeping a pretty slow pace and he still needed to take a break every 10-15 minutes. While Taiwan is a land of hills, this route wasn't particularly hilly:

After the ride, during which he kept insisting we stop and get beer, we went back to his house to drink tea, eat some salty food, and watch NBA basketball then college football. Seriously, you can't make this shit up. I have to say I've come a long way since the first time I came here. I remember the first trip how easily annoyed I would get at being thrust into these family situations and not knowing jack-shit about anything, and not being able to understand or say anything. Here I was today sitting in what amounts to a stranger's living room in full spandex drinking tea and watching basketball. Dude man's wife came in and rolled with it, breaking out some salty snacks to keep us from being hungry.

After the ride I went back and showered, saw Nat's aunt real quick, and was informed that I had 1 minute to get ready to go to lunch, which was with the same posse we had seen yesterday, including Darin. As usual, the food was banging, and I won't bother trying to detail it all here. Check the pic link at the top to see all the food and descriptions. This was one of the things we had, fried tofu:

And Darin got his way after all:

Back at the apartment to make noodles for Julia because she won't eat much of anything in this country. With the addition of video games to her life, she at least allows us to eat in relative silence. Towards the end of the meal things were drawing on a bit long, but she made it with no issue and was able to deal with the array of strange looking foods that were dropped in front of her. After she had lunch, Nat's dad went out to get us some scallion pancakes because we never got it the day before. The last thing I needed was more to eat, but he's just non-stop with this food.

After the early afternoon snack, we took a walk and were surprised that Julia was a trooper and walked much further than either of us thought she would. The weather was nice, mid-60s in the afternoon. We got within striking distance of the giant Giant shop I had seen on the way back from hanging out watching basketball, so we went over and picked up a floor pump for the bike. We also asked about group rides and if one of my planned rides (tomorrow, let's go up!) was a bad idea or not. I found a road not far away that goes straight up the mountain but was told there's a quarry up top and that trucks frequently drive up & down the road. I'm still thinking about checking it out.

Back to the apartment for an easy dinner and low-key night. The first 3 days have been somewhat chaotic and it was nice to get a little down time. But with Julia, such a thing does not exist.



  • At 9:24 AM, Blogger terren said…

    Love the Darin story. I wish you traveled more often so we could get more blog posts like this. Great pics too, keep it coming.


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