We make holes in teeth!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Taiwan Day 37 - Traffic Madness

Woke up early with the idea to get some sort of riding in, very tired as I have been for the past few days. All the riding is finally catching up to me and the busy days add on to that. Nat woke up too, she had trouble sleeping. So I got up, went to 7-11 for coffee, and grabbed a few cheap buns from there. Had breakfast together and then we both hemmed and hawed around the house, not really knowing what to do. Nat eventually laid down and watched TV and I decided not to ride, simply because I was too damn tired.

When Julia woke up she ran in and joined mom, who decided that sleeping more was a better idea:

We had talked about starting the day early, which also played a little part in my staying in but truth is I probably need to sleep more. But the best laid plans end up bearing no fruit, as we didn't even manage to get out of the house by 10:00 and when we did our second breakfast pit stop, the rice ball shop, was closed anyway for the holiday. We'll have to make sure we get that when we come down the last time for our final sweep through the apartment.

So we walked around a little bit and dipped into the traditional market which is sort of like that video I posted but in a building, and a bit less crowded as it was not Chinese new year's eve. Much meat and so on, and of course the big vat of chicken testicles, which seem to be all too common here:

After, we stopped at a soup bun stand and get a small pack of buns and a cold soymilk for second breakfast. The soymilk was really good. Following that small sub-meal, we started packing things up to bring to Taipei. Our stay down in Luodong has pretty much run its course, so it was time to start moving our load of junk north, one step closer to the airport. You'd be amazed at the amount of shit you can amass in 5 weeks. We still have 1 to go.

We left the apartment around noon. Keep that number in mind. First stop was Nat's cousin who is also the owner of the McCruiser. As a hobby he tells people's fortunes, and here he is telling me about myself:

He said a bunch of things about my personality which were true, though the rational side of my brain wonders if they would be true for most people. He didn't say anything of particular interest other than a) I needed to be very careful of heart disease and b) my career will do very well from age 42-51, at which point he says I'll be able to retire. Oh and he mentioned something about growing a horn out of my forehead and learning how to fly, but I'll give him a pass on that one.

From there we went to Ilan, just 5 miles up the road and tried to find the other mall in town. After riding around for too long, we finally found it, then had to leave immediately and go walk to find food, as there was none there. Julia had KFC (thank god for Western influence here or this kid would never eat) and we had some beef paste-sauce over rice, which we ate at the dirtiest stand I've ever eaten at. It was ok.

We then started to go towards the highway but the traffic was backed up pretty badly, so I hopped out and over to one of the roads I took to Taipei that avoids the main drag. We took it all the way to the hills and hit even more traffic at the highway entrance. A sign said something about falling rock, and we could see that traffic going into the 13 km tunnel was barely moving, so the traffic was at least that long, and likely more, since rocks tend to fall outside the tunnel and not in it.

We hiked it up and over the mountains on the road that I rode to Taipei on. Way back when Nat was a kid they used to drive this in order to get to Taipei, since there was no coastal route nor a tunnel that went through the mountain. It was a cool drive, but if I had to do that sort of thing every day I'd go crazy. Thankfully, on the other side of the first mountain the traffic was fine and we were able to jump back on and not go the whole distance on the slow road.

Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn off the highway for no good reason and we decided to go to Taipei and the electronics district to try and find me a digital camera that might last a little better in my jersey pocket. After 453 turns, we finally found the store that Calvin recommended but unfortunately it was closed for the holiday. Suck.

But again, I took more pics of 101, with a tiny crescent moon in this one:

Luckily, there is a whole district and where 1 store is close, 50 more are open:

Before shopping we grabbed a scallion pancake then headed down into the basement. The egg in it was runny and it was damn good. I like this style:

We dropped into this basement-like area with all sorts of electronics and we couldn't find any digital cameras, so we stopped at some random stand and much to our surprise the guy sitting down and working there was white. Nat asked him if he spoke English and he said he did, but with a British accent so I didn't catch what he said exactly. I think this was a first here, seeing a white guy working at a store. I'm sure they are plentiful but I've just never seen one. He told us to go upstairs and just pick randomly.

We did, and the guy there pretty much told us to go back to the states to buy it because it's too expensive here. Fair enough, though I wanted a camera for my rides the rest of the trip. I guess that more or less means people will have to settle for a single iPhone pic of my biking every day. Oh well, what can you do? We grabbed some food at a stand on the way out, which was fried crab and a hunk of blood cake that was also fried. It was tasty stuff. Julia scored some mozzarella sticks too, and she was stoked.

Trying to leave was pure insanity, and we just couldn't find a way onto route 1. You have to realize that all the highways are raised here, and you can be on the ground and have 2 sets of raised highways above you, neither of which are remotely accessible. This is what happened to us yesterday and at some point, Julia says, "Wht are we going around in circles?" Sure enough, we were in front of the original electronics store that was closed to begin with, probably a half hour after we left.

We finally got back to Linkou at 8:15, 8 and one-quarter hours after we left the apartment. It took 3 trips for me to get all our junk from the basement up to the 5th floor. We really need to consolidate, or set fire to, some of this stuff.

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



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