Sitting at Taoyuan airport…

Waiting to board the flight out of Taiwan.

After breakfast, I was able to visit my friend in the hospital and get my medical records before checking out of the Fullerton South ( love that hotel!) and being driven (no traffic, uneventful ride) to the airport.

It occurs to me how much more civilized many processes are here, especially those where you have to spend money! At the hotel, check-in was a breeze and they gave me express check out. The room contained a lovely fruit plate (kiwi, banana, asian pear), water, coffee and tea. Breakfast was delicious and as I pulled away from the Fullerton, I felt I’d come full circle: this is where I stayed my first month in Taiwan.

At the airport, check in/security/immigration processes are much friendlier. The Asiana agent that checked my luggage in was gracious about the slight overweightness. Luckily I’d planned for my carry on to be overweight and pulled enough stuff out and into my extra satchel that I was able to proceed to security.

I’d forgotten that I had an aerosol can in my carry-on but the agents were kind and actually let me use the hairspray again before confiscating it and LOGGING it. TSA, take note!

They did, however, miss my 3-plus ounce can of Mr. Brown coffee, oops!

The immigration officer seemed genuinely sad that I would not be returning to Taiwan.

The only thing keeping me from crying my eyes out is hearing the happiness in my Dad’s voice when I talked to him yesterday. His final chapter is starting, as is my next one.

Goodbye for now, Taiwan.

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

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