The hills of Taichung, part 2

First stop, though, is a side trip to visit my host’s parents house in Yingge where I’m excited to have the opportunity to see some of her father’s art work. He creates pottery with unusual finishes and glazes; not the stuff you see in many shops in town.

Next up, DINNER! We stop at just outside Taichung  at a *barbeque* place owned by my host’s cousins. I typically avoid these places since they mostly serve meat but I was pleasantly surprised. I had “dou fu” (tofu), tofu skin, and green beans on a stick; hao chi (how-cher). Good eating. Bu hao (not bad)!

kebabs, Taiwan-style

After spending the night on the outskirts of Taichung, we went up the winding mountain road to my host’s Grandparents’ home. The whole family turned out and we spent a day of eating (very popular pasttime here!), playing card games, drinking tea prepared on an outdoor stove, and talking about the family history. My host is 7th generation Taiwanese; her grandparents, 5th. “Grandpa”, and his ancestors were all farmers who had come over from China. Behind their home you could see fruit orchards built up on the steep hills. They served up persimmons, guava, and the largest asian pears I’ve ever seen (literally 8 inches in diameter) from their orchard. What a treat! We heard how the matriarch and patriarch had met: he came to work in the orchard and would spend the night in the family home.

All around the porch, were dozens of bonsai trees, carefully pruned and lovingly tended. “Grandpa” told us that one of the trees was more than 200 years old and had been taken from the ground of the orchard. Amazing! This lovely family truly exemplifies the warm hospitality of the Taiwanese people.

there is beauty all around

When we left, on the way down the mountain, an older well-dressed lady on the side of the road, flagged us down. We pulled over and from the conversation I gathered that she needed a ride into town. So, of course, we obliged! (Where else but here would this be advisable or even possible?) She kept smiling and patting my hand , apparently happy not to have to wait for the bus in the rain.

On the way back to Taoyuan (where I would catch the train to Taipei) we stopped at a rest stop. And by that I mean, a party on the side of the road! The place was HUGE and the atmosphere was like a giant amusement park….to me, the most amusing thing of all was the MUSIC (ok, asian musak) playing in the restroom! I’m calling it “music to pee by”! I guess that makes up for the lack of TP!! LOL

Taichung part 3

After lunch and shopping in Taichung, my hosts took me to the Taiwan National Museum of Fine Art where Marc Chagall’s work is the feature exhibit. It’s FREE to see the other collections and 250NT (8.00 USD) to view the Chagalls. And man, were there Chagalls! What a wonderful collection of his colorful fantasies! Here’s the entrance to the museum:

Entrance to the TNMFA in Taichung

When we exited the museum, it was amusing to see children and their parents playing with….the smooth white stones used to pave paths. All that amazing artwork  just a stone’s throw away and the kids would rather pick up rocks! And then another amazing sight: a DIY tea stand!

DIY Tea Stand

Taichung Adventure! part 1

Where to begin….I knew I wanted to be onboard the 12:36 HSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) to Taichung (pronounce ty-juhng) which meant I’d have to brave the MRT system. For someone who is directionally (and here, linguistically-challenged) that can be quite an undertaking! I left the hotel at 11:45 headed for Da-an MRT station and used my “Easy Pay” card to enter the terminal. btw, the cost to ride the MRT is ridiculously low, something like 15NT (.50 cents). I got on the train and off at the next stop (Zhongxiao Fuxing) and switched to the blue line headed east to Taipei Main Station. Three stops later, I found my way to the HSR ticket machines, only to find out that all the screens are all in Chinese. Got in another line to buy a ticket from an actual person. 4 minutes later I had a non-reserved ticket to Taiching. Less than an hour later, I was in Taichung taking a taxi to go see a painting!!

Arrival in Taichung

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…