We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Taiwan Day 42 - Cleaning Up Luodong

Even though I'm done with the bike I wake up early and shower by 7:00. I head out to get breakfast, at this point unconcerned about being able to communicate. I get 2 rice balls with egg and 2 soymilks. Nat and I enjoy a quiet breakfast while everyone sleeps. It's nice to just sit in silence once in a while.

We're out the door early, by 9:30 or so and we get down to Luodong before 11:00, which is a remarkable feat considering our general history and the fact Julia stays up past 11:00 every night these days. Even though the weatherman says rain, he really sucks ass at his job:

We start cleaning up the apartment for the last time and I get the bike a little cleaner and put it away in the back foyer, for lack of a better word. It's a covered area that is open to the air, which means the chain will be a pure pile of rust when I get back. I decided not to clean the chain because the muck on it will probably keep it protected for longer. I cover it with an old sheet as a token gesture to keep the in-laws from getting sick of looking at it.

Lunch is mediocre rice from a place in the night market. The holiday is over so the shops are back to normal business hours, which means not much is open during the day. After lunch we go and feed the fish one last time. They got a treat, as we had at least a pound of food to give up before we left:

One last look from the gazebo-in-the-sea:

After we pack up and leave the apartment for the last time (after Nat realizes she walked out with her slippers on and had to go back and get her shoes) we head over to Nat's cousin's to return the bike, then hit up her aunt's house for a final goodbye, where we are joined by her other aunt. We hang out and have tea for a bit then set sail and head for the hills for a quick detour.

I took the family up to a local road I had ridden on a handful of times to look for monkeys, and sure enough they were there. It's getting pretty easy since they seem to pretty much be everywhere other than the breakfast shop. As we rolled up to the area they instantly started barking at us, and before long we spotted them:

This time I actually took a video:

Finally, monkeys on film!

Up the road we took a look at the aborigine bridge and noted that there was a Catholic church in this tiny town:

After one more drive by past the monkeys on Nat's side, we went to the Mr. Liu peanut shop and got a bunch of cans of various snacks to bring back with us. After that, we headed to the temple for our last stop. This is the Daoist temple that I've gone to several times, the Meihua temple which I've mentioned quite a few times before. Here's a look at the front, coming in:

To answer Terren, I use Daoism though Taoism is more widely used. The pinyin system, which I've used to study, spells it "dao" which of course is the word for path/road/way. So I go with Daoism instead of Taoism. I've seen both used. Either way, it's not Buddhism, even though they both use the Laughing Buddha, which is the fat dude always pictured in the statue, which makes it more confusing, especially since he was supposedly a Zen Buddhist in real life, if he existed at all.

So we did the ceremony as a last step before we left the county and headed back to Taipei. Grace said we should go there, as it's a headquarters for Daoism in the country and before you leave you should go (I mean "should" if it's your religion). When I say "ceremony" here I really don't know exactly what I'm talking about.

Of course, neither of us are Daoist, so we watched what others were doing with the incense and did the same. Apparently we did it wrong, but no big deal really. I have to admit I felt strange doing this. I don't know how to explain "strange" here, other than I felt a bit spacey walking around with the incense.

Nat said she remembered taking a pic at one of the stone lions when she was a teenager, so we took one of Nat & Julia so she can remember when she brings her husband here in 30 years:

We hen drove an hour in rush hour traffic to make dinner with Calvin & family, but thankfully the traffic wasn't too crazy and we were only about 15 minutes late. We went to Tina's again, the organic place. One again good food. This time I got what Nat had last time, the pork:

Back at the apartment, I realize what a huge amount of shit I have to pack still:

It's funny, but a week ago I was ready to go home. Being back in Luodong today made me realize that I'm not. I mean, some part of me is, but then I feel like I've spent so much time building up a comfort zone that I have a lot of the details down here. I no longer feel like I'm vacation but that I partially live here. New Jersey seems years away. In some small way, I've grown roots here in these 6 weeks that make me want to stay.

I'm sure we'll be back. Hopefully there's less rain next time.

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



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