We make holes in teeth!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Taiwan Day 35 - Chinese New Year's Day

Tis the year of the rabbit, or the Rabbi, depending on your culture.

After 4 days of riding my legs off, I decided to skip today and sleep in. Usually I wake up at 5:30 or so, but today I scraped myself out of bed at 8:30 and found some bread in the fridge for breakfast. The morning was nothing at all - bread, coffee, steam bun, then sit around and do nothing.

Late morning Nat and Calvin started making some homemade dumplings, while Grace had been cooking for the last hour making some food for the day. This culture is massively based on eating out. But new year's day is the 1 day a year people actually stay in and eat. I guess people need to prove that they can still cook. That, and everything is closed so they have no choice.

They sent me out to the corner store for oil and eggs, and as soon as I walked out the door I was floored with how warm it was. I had seen the sun peek it's head out maybe an hour earlier, but the sky was a solid light gray when I went out. Not clear, but certainly on the lighter side of gray. My initial thought was to wish I had gone for a ride, but with sun forecast the next 4 days, I need to save myself. I had a headache all morning, which may be from the huge amount of biking, the wine last night, or the lack of coffee this morning. Probably all of the above.

After I went to the store I walked around a bit to enjoy the warm air. This neighborhood is atypical for Taiwan. The buildings are sealed off, almost like hotels. You enter either from the parking garage below, or the front door which has a desk and 1-3 people working it at all times. The typical neighborhood is more of a free-for-all, houses built together, people going in and out all the time. I guess this is a sort of next step in the evolution of community here. As a visitor, I don't like it. For someone who lives here, I understand that perspective.

First for Terren at the corner store:

When I got back the food orgy had started. First was some boiled dumplings, which I ate with some (mostly soy) dipping sauce. Then came the stewed bamboo which I love, that was part of an eggs & pork dish that would later be for dinner. Following that we had fried dumplings, then fried taro balls with egg yolk in the middle, and finally some fried "year cake" which is a sweet sticky rice cake you eat for dessert. I ate far, far too much.

Calvin the fry master:

The results, solid unhealthy food:

The TV was showing some of the temples that open their doors at certain times of the day, with people lined up trying to get in first. It's supposed to be more lucky for you the sooner you do it. So naturally, first is best. And it only follows that there is an absolutely mad rush to be the very first one. So it's a sort of "running of the bulls" situation you see there. At one temple, one dude hid under a table and when they "opened the doors" he jumped out and beat everyone in line. Gotta say this was damn good entertainment.

We planned on going back to Luodong today, but apparently the traffic is really bad on new year's day so we're here another day. We took a foray out to the mall/department store/etc and getting out of town was, in fact, pretty crazy. My observation was that there really weren't any more people on the road than normal. But everyone was in their car as opposed to the scooter they normally ride. So there was more traffic on the road.

We hit up the department store near where Calvin used to live and it turns out that I was literally right there the other day when I was first getting lost looking for 106, and again yesterday when I was going right instead of left. Behind the back shot for Terren here. Honing my skills.

We picked up a new wok to replace the one we bought here 10 years ago. Of course it's made in Switzerland, just like the first one. Go figure. These trips end up being big time endeavors. We started talking about going at 3:00 and didn't actually get to the store until about 5:00. The process of talking about going, getting ready to go, and getting out the door can be a significant undertaking some days. For some reason it's impossible to just stand up and walk out the door at the drop of a hat.

Back at the apartment, dinner is more home cooking from Grace. Greens, squash, and the pork/egg/bamboo thing from this morning. Love the pork & bamboo thing, big props to that. Then I drank some beer.

Pretty much a do-nothing day again today. Tomorrow the elusive string of sunny days is supposed to begin. Bike in the morning and return to Luodong at some point after that. Then I guess see some relatives and so on. Nat's parents already started asking when we're going back to see them.

I found out what Dennis Rodman is doing these days. Apparently working at a mall in Sanchong:

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



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