We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Taiwan Day 7 - An Ordinary Day

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

Confused Dude Man is back manning the 7-11. I'm tired this morning so coffee is important. He better not screw it up. I figured out the creamer numbers. I do know they have different hand gestures for numbers above 5, at least I know the one for 6, which is pretty much the same hand gesture for "Hang 10, dude." What this guy was doing was giving me 3 creamers and 2 sugars for each coffee, not total. So when Nat woke up today she had a stack of creamers awaiting her, and 4 sugars.

It was raining when I went out this morning, which is the first time I've actually ridden in the rain. Temps were 50-55, as usual, so it was a bit chilly but not bad after a few minutes. Today's ride was going to be shorter so I went later, avoiding the mad rush of middle school kids on their bikes which I was subject to yesterday. I went in the direction of the Toughest Climb with an idea to maybe climb up to another temple or explore a road on the map that sort of just went up and ended. I decided to go with the exploration as it seemed the better road to choose.

The road was not well traveled so I figured I was on another farm road, so I was surprised when I found this off to the side of the road:

I don't think many people live in, or visit, this area but it may be the off season. It didn't seem like much of a tourist attraction area no matter what, so I think that's sort of a relic of times past. It's a cool relic and once again, my sense of wonder at this island never stops. I'm pretty sure I could bike here forever and keep being entertained by this stuff. There are "things" everywhere, and it seems like other "things" are being built while previous ones are left to be reclaimed by the land. As I was riding up the hill, off to the left on top of the ridge were what looked like a series of buildings that could pass for hotels. If it were my first time here, I'd be thoroughly perplexed by this. But I've seen this sort of thing at the temples before, and they're sometimes used for housing the people who go to the temple for multi-night stays. Still, I find them fascinating.

Eventually the road got sketchy, which happens every day, and here we see where the road has started being reclaimed by the river. Road fall, or fail? Look behind the sign to see just how much of the road is now gone. It appears that the retaining wall didn't exactly hold up its end of the bargain.

Very shortly after this, the road turned into washed out mud, and I called it a ride. The rain had functioned to clean my bike a little, and I didn't want to ride through mud just to see if the house on the other side of the river held a shotgun-toting farmer or not. The road has been drilled by the flood zone, and likely gets washed out every year and re-blazed by trucks to get to the other side. Power lines still cross over to the building so I presume it's still used for something. It was in much better shape than a lot of houses I see being occupied so I have to assume it's still in use.

Got back to the apartment and I was a filthy wet mess, which is different than usual because I was wetter than I normally am. Actually the bike was cleaner than usual, but still dirty and also wet. So I had to clean up a little extra since I need to bring the bike inside after every ride. Leaving it outside, even locked, means it will disappear in no time. I keep it in the office here. After a quick cleanup and some more work, we head out to lunch without Julia so we can eat in relative peace. We get fried rice, mine is lamb and Nat's is pork. As usual, food was good.

The rest of the afternoon is relatively low-key, and this is where our trip may start to get a little mundane for the readers. The reality is that I've got to work, and we simply don't have enough exciting touristy things to do for 44 straight days. So we're going to have some down days, and today was pretty much one of them. Of course, we didn't just sit and watch TV all day so our daily life on an average day is still different than it would normally be, but there were no museums nor coffee gatherings this afternoon.

I did, however, decide I had to try to keep the bike clean. This island is relentless with the grime that accumulates everywhere. While it's no big deal on the frame, it will rapidly grind away my drivetrain and render my brakes inoperable before long. I'm starting to wonder if this thing is even going to make it 6 weeks. So, I took it outside and brushed it off with a toilet bowl brush, then decided I needed better tools for the job. It looks better, but still needs some work. Here it is after a token cleaning:

We set out late afternoon for another excursion, which basically means walking out the front door and going somewhere. Since everything is within walking distance, your daily life is just different here. You don't need to drive to the store and buy a week's worth of groceries. You go out and get what you need every day. I like this, as it means everything you eat is fresher and you get out and walk more often. Plus it gets you out of the house.

But first, we made a quick stop at the English library on the other side of the park. While nothing to write home about, it gave us something to do for a little bit:

Then it was out on another suicide shopping run: afternoon snack of a samosa-like thing but with veggies, oysters, eggs, and hot sauce inside. Then back through the park, to the corner pharmacy, a little odds & ends store (think daily life plus small hardware needs), the grocery store, the bakery, back to the park, and finally home. Here are my makeshift bike cleaning tools:

Degreaser, a few brushes, and some rags. Combined with the lube I brought this should get me to the 44th day. After that, I fully expect the bike to completely seize up and be inoperable when I get back. As long as it makes it, I'll be happy. I'll deal with the future when it gets here.

Dinner is rice with pork, veggies with pork, stinky tofu, and squid balls. The stinky tofu is one of those things that almost no white people eat, but I totally dig it. Every time it comes up that I like it, people here can't believe it. The squid balls aren't actual testicles, but some sort of night market concoction that is really tasty. Even though we had 4 things it was a completely reasonable dinner. We eat so often than by the end of the day I don't really have it in me to gorge further.

Topped it off with a Saranac, which really hit the spot, then Nat ran out and got 2 desserts which we split. The first was something called grass jelly, which is...honestly I don't even know how to describe it. Black jello-like sweet substance with those starch balls you find in the bubble tea. The other was a sort of tofu and soymilk concoction with more starch balls and some sesame seeds. Both were good and filling, and now I'm ready for bed, for sure.



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