A Travellerspoint blog

Seniors, Mountains & Quirks, Oh My!

sunny 27 °C

Seniors - they're everywhere. I watched a news report addressing how the number of seniors in Taiwan will be exponential in 20 years and how Canada has the best care for seniors in the world (do you agree?). They were among the first oddities I noted since my arrival here in Taiwan. Any outing that we did on this beautiful island we did them surrounded by seniors, this is even more apparent if it's during a week day.

Seniors!

Seniors!

A gathering of more seniors

A gathering of more seniors

Even more seniors!

Even more seniors!

I like that they are heavily involved in keeping themselves well & healthy. Not sure why but my thoughts always lead to Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod. "Keep fit and have fun"!

Click for a surprise!

Here's a sweet little grandmama that I came across. I didn't know whether or not she was hired by the city to keep this little green space clean or not. Upon questioning, she said that since she wasn't doing anything she swept up & picked up the leaves every other day to not only get some exercise but to keep it pretty for everyone. What a doll!
Sweet grandmama, sweeping and cleaning the park on her own time

Sweet grandmama, sweeping and cleaning the park on her own time

I've now climbed a total of 5 mountains. A bit much considering I've been here 15 days. Is it wrong to say that I'm sick of them? I appreciate it in the moment, but I'll be happy to refrain from hikes for the next little while.

Gateway

Gateway


Bamboo forest

Bamboo forest


Just a stunning day

Just a stunning day


Ancient Tree, 2800 years old.  I think the signs are lying.  But I was still impressed

Ancient Tree, 2800 years old. I think the signs are lying. But I was still impressed


It was torrential rain... I was told there was a mountain there.

It was torrential rain... I was told there was a mountain there.

More rain

More rain

Small falls on the way up the moutain

Small falls on the way up the moutain


Amongst the clouds, at nearly 2000m above sea level

Amongst the clouds, at nearly 2000m above sea level


The tea plantation hut where we stayed the night.  I had on 5 covers to survive the night.  Fact:  There was cable TV, as well as internet.  As if! I think I should be set for the rest of my travels then.

The tea plantation hut where we stayed the night. I had on 5 covers to survive the night. Fact: There was cable TV, as well as internet. As if! I think I should be set for the rest of my travels then.

Snaking trail... quite deadly

Snaking trail... quite deadly


I told you it was deadly.

I told you it was deadly.


Waterfall of clouds

Waterfall of clouds


On top of the world

On top of the world


Same view but within minutes it was completed covered

Same view but within minutes it was completed covered


I'm out of descriptors.  I'm not sure how up high we were, but it was a drastic drop in temperature.  12 Degrees!

I'm out of descriptors. I'm not sure how up high we were, but it was a drastic drop in temperature. 12 Degrees!

Snoring on the handrails

Snoring on the handrails

You can't really see it in the picture above, but within 2 feet of the rails it was quite a drop down. What a brave little grandpapa.

My dear Mama Chang won't appreciate this one, but we saw a sign showing a sketch of a snake, and her first instinct was to cover her head. After I laughed my face off, I told her that it was quite an odd reaction, only to find out that her childhood experience included that of snakes falling from trees. It's still funny.
Fear of flying snakes

Fear of flying snakes

Here are some traffic scenes...

Seriously? It seemed impossible, but I witnessed it, not a single scratch.
This was quite the show, I still don't know how the drivers managed

This was quite the show, I still don't know how the drivers managed

One of a thousand night markets, snacks, clothes, accessories all for ridiculous prices!

One of a thousand night markets, snacks, clothes, accessories all for ridiculous prices!

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Normal chaotic traffic scene
Another chaotic view of traffic in Taiwan

Another chaotic view of traffic in Taiwan


Dogs ride scooters too!

Dogs ride scooters too!


This only barely shocked me... my tolerance for what is considered safe has greatly altered since being back.  I mean, c'mon!  No helmet?!

This only barely shocked me... my tolerance for what is considered safe has greatly altered since being back. I mean, c'mon! No helmet?!

I drove in this chaos for the first time the other day, I had the lives of 4 others in my hands. I kept a cool exterior, but I won't lie, it wasn't easy to navigate, as there was a constant stream of scooters that would appear out of no where, and every other car/truck was committing some illegal maneuvers. On top of that urban planning isn't Taiwan's forte. Instead of an intersection of 2 roads, it's very common to come to a 5, 6 and even 8 point road. I kept having to ask "did you mean the 1st right turn or the 2nd right turn?" But I survived! The others had a heart attack and kept a stream of backseat driver talk which didn't help the situation.

Sunny day and umbrellas

Sunny day and umbrellas


Take a note of everyone's attire, now take note of the fact that it was 23 degrees

Take a note of everyone's attire, now take note of the fact that it was 23 degrees


Fur Parka!  It was 24 degrees and humid.  I had to slow my normal walking pace to nearly half, AND still worked up a sweat.

Fur Parka! It was 24 degrees and humid. I had to slow my normal walking pace to nearly half, AND still worked up a sweat.


The amount of garbage puzzled me, as this was the front entrance to the home

The amount of garbage puzzled me, as this was the front entrance to the home

Quirks non? However, I have never felt more at home. I sunblock myself to death, next time I just need to bring my own shade wherever I go. As for the 23 degree weather, everyone kept telling me to wear a jacket because it was much cooler out... Bahahaha! I AM HOME!!! I have no words for the garbage.

Here are some final pics:

BBQ Corn on the cob!  Yes please!

BBQ Corn on the cob! Yes please!


For those who know me... did you really think one was sufficient?

For those who know me... did you really think one was sufficient?

Here's a special request:  Chicken anuses!  Yum yum yum!

Here's a special request: Chicken anuses! Yum yum yum!

Success with my search of BBQ corn!! No lies here - Chicken butts! A childhood favourite!

Over & out my friends!

Posted by chang2n 05:36 Archived in Taiwan Comments (4)

Let's Talk About Food Baby...

Let's Talk About You & Me

sunny 25 °C

Oh. Dear. God. Praise the baby Jesus! Food in Taiwan is pure delight. There has been several childhood favourites that I've hassling my relatives to help to track down and success has never been so sweet!

One of my top cravings has to be Stinky Tofu. To the untrained Westerner the scent is vomit inducing. You can smell it from blocks away. For me and many others... It triggers my mouth to instantly salivate. My mother & I exchanged a few lines the other day while walking through an alley way:

Me: Is that Stinky Tofu I smell?.... or is it just garbage?

Mom: Nah, that's the smell of toilets.

Stinky Tofu - Heart!

Stinky Tofu - Heart!

I don't know why it was invented, nor do I know why it has such a place in my heart. But if you dare brave to sample it one day, it'll be my treat & I guarantee a life-long love affair.

My mother has a great interest & great talents when it comes to cooking food. A delish everytime, and it's quite unfortunate that I don't have the same talents (though secretly I think I'm great in the kitchen... I would just rather eat than cook). We went to Keelong, the most Northern point of Taiwan for 2 days of cooking lessons from another aptly named Mama Chang. Mama Chang owned a very successful restaurant for a couple of decades before retiring and was generous enough to pass on some of her secrets. After 2 days of learning, cooking & eating; I can say without any bias, that my own Mama Chang has much more goodies up her sleeve. I hope that she will go forward with her dream restaurant one day.

Soup is customary to start off every Chinese meal

Soup is customary to start off every Chinese meal

Yummy buns on the left, not too crazy about the thingys on the right

Yummy buns on the left, not too crazy about the thingys on the right

THIS IS GOLD!  Add it to anything; bread, rice, noodles, crackers... you name it and it's magically delicious.

THIS IS GOLD! Add it to anything; bread, rice, noodles, crackers... you name it and it's magically delicious.

Pot Stickers!

Pot Stickers!

Oranges aren't orange in Taiwan, they are sweet when green

Oranges aren't orange in Taiwan, they are sweet when green

More buns!

More buns!

Pot Sticker Buns

Pot Sticker Buns

Hong-Shaw Mein... I'll take the whole pot please.

Hong-Shaw Mein... I'll take the whole pot please.

We went searching some night markets to find my other craving, BBQ Corn on the Cob. It sounds simple, but it can't be done anywhere else other than in Taiwan, by the street side, and with the proper corn & sauce & smoky coal lit fire. We failed in our search and came across some mediocre crap that just made me crave the a good BBQ corn even more.
Crappy BBQ Corn on the Cob (The search continues!)

Crappy BBQ Corn on the Cob (The search continues!)

I will succeed and track down my love. Here are some other delights from the night markets, most of which I couldn't eat, but there's nothing wrong with standing in front of the vendor taking deep breathes & looking at all the meaty yummy bits!!

Hand-Pulled Onion Crisps (excuse my translation)

Hand-Pulled Onion Crisps (excuse my translation)

For the canivores!  Enjoy!

For the canivores! Enjoy!

In my dreams as a carnivore...

In my dreams as a carnivore...

Here's another oddity I encountered at the night market. I saw a gathering of teenagers hanging out and eating some goods but all holding their dogs. There's a total of 6 dogs if you look carefully. A decade ago, having dogs as pets was practically unheard of in Taiwan, and now they're treated like Kings. I hypothesize that the evolution of dogs in Taiwan will no longer have legs as they are never walked but rather carried.

Let's Hang Out, Eat and Hold Our Dogs!

Let's Hang Out, Eat and Hold Our Dogs!

Puppy and his atrophied legs

Puppy and his atrophied legs

Last thing I'll share today; I've fallen in love. She's a sweet little pot-bellied pig and if I could, I'd bring her home in a heart beat. Who's gonna deny that little bow tie? That cute little patterned outfit of her coat? She's less than a 5 minute walk from where I'm staying and I try my best to visit her everyday. She costs $2500 TWD, which is about $85 CN.

Cute Outfit

Cute Outfit

She's Shy.

She's Shy.

Way cuter than Babe!

Way cuter than Babe!

Bowtie and Kissesssss!

Bowtie and Kissesssss!

I showed her pictures to my cousin Tai-yu and asked him:

"How can you not want her as a pet? Isn't she sensational?"

He replied "Very cute. But I can't have her as a pet, because I want to eat her!"

Son of a!

Posted by chang2n 04:43 Archived in Taiwan Comments (5)

Airport Tales

overcast 14 °C
View Forever Summer on chang2n's travel map.

I had a brief touchdown in Incheon International Airport in Seoul (beautiful airport btw). After 13.5 hour flight my leg muscles atrophied, this was completely my own fault as I had spent the flight watching sinful guilty pleasure movies on the plane. Take a guess how many I digested through? 2? 3? Try a whopping 5!!

1. The Help (Emma Stone - she's a cutie, overall: meh. Did I shed a tear? I'm a sap.)
2. Pirates of the Caribbean (Johnny Depp's losing it for me, and I only enjoy Penelope in her Spanish films)
3. Something Borrowed (I can't stand Kate Hudson anymore, I love John Krasinski from the Office)
4. Last Night (Loved Keira Knightly, not a fan of that Avatar guy Sam Worthington... I'd watch it again though)
5. Transformers (This was the biggest sin committed, although not by me; by 3 top notch actors! WTF was Frances McDormand, John Turturro & John Malkovich doing in this pic??! Also I didn't understand anything. Maybe it's just too far over my head, but it took me until the very end to realize the bad robots had red eyes and the good ones had blue eyes.

The original plan was to spend my 13 hour layover seeing a bit of Seoul, but alas, my fear of cold prevented me from stepping out into the 14 degree weather. Not to mention the lack of proper warm clothes.

This is what I observed in the Seoul airport.
- Brand whores... Asian love them brands. Strings & strings of big names after big names.
Brand whores

Brand whores

Brand whores #2

Brand whores #2

- Asian couples dressing the same. I initially thought this was just a freak occurrence, but I swear to you I counted upwards of 30 couples. Since Asian men are a bit smaller in frame, I assume they just buy the women's clothing in Large. I felt a bit of a jerk taking these sneaky pics, but here are a couple of couples (couples2?), with the latter dressed head to toe in the same outfit, tops, jackets, jeans and shoes.
One Track Mind:  2 minds melted into one lame one

One Track Mind: 2 minds melted into one lame one

One Track Mind #2:  I wasn't lying about this!

One Track Mind #2: I wasn't lying about this!

I landed in Taiwan's International Airport (ugly airport) and didn't realize that I was in the same flight as some famous guy from Korea on a visit to Taipei. He was tall & fit and very hot. 363375bfab2834939303773bdd4f5f9c1273588113_full.jpg

(this next one's for the ladies and the gents) Cha_Seung_Won.jpg
I noticed him walking side by side through customs, and was about 8-10 feet ahead of him when I exited to the Arrivals reception... Unbeknownst to me filled with camera crews, screaming girls with tons of flashing cameras and lots of police/security presence. Not sure how many of you out there have seen the Penelope skits from SNL by Kirsten Wiig, but I'd like to think that the red carpet treatment was for me! Bahahahaha!

I'm just a bus ride away from seeing my mommy!! Moms are the best treasures in the world! Can't wait to give her a big hug!

ps. I've already misplaced my passport for about a good 5 minutes... Thought I'd share this shameful bit last since I don't imagine most people having the patience to read through all this babbling. But I found it didn't I?

Posted by chang2n 05:56 Archived in South Korea Comments (4)

Leaving on a jet plane

and it's clear skies ahead!

sunny 5 °C

Here it goes, Day 1 of my endless Summer. I should have gone with my gut instinct and left for the airport much later, but instead followed CL's advice which stated "International flights require at least 3 hours prior to departure". I won myself a half hour's delay. I was dropped off at 10am, for my 12:30pm flight to Taiwan and have already accomplished the following:

1. Found out that SE Asia travel is fairly strict. The counter agent started grilling me on when my return flight was going to be to which I told him I was continuing my travels elsewhere. He then demanded to see when my exit flight from Taiwan would be as they might deny me entry without a departure within 90 days. WTF? My homeland, not embrace my decade return?? Thankfully I had already booked my onward flight to Hong Kong. I have a sticky feeling that this unplanned and open-ended travel is not going to go as smoothly as I had originally (un)planned.

2. Requested in a very stealth manner for a vegetarian meal on Korean Air (Koreans = carnivores... or so I've been told). Supposedly they required 24hrs notice for any special dietary needs. I gave the elder Asian gentleman my well-practiced customer service smile and implored him to help any which way he can. Veggie meal - Check!

3. Strolled through security check in honestly 2 seconds. I have never witnessed no lines. I was the only person. Made friends with all the security personnel and asked for a red carpet treatment. This is why I know they were my BFFs: I forgot I had pocketed an additional Vaseline in my pocket and asked where the garbage was to dispose of this extra liquid which did not belong in my 1L bag. Response: Just keep it. I asked "do you want me to remove my shoes? jacket?" Response: naawwwhhh, go ahead.

So after all this, I caught a glimpse of the time 10:13am! Lesson learned everyone.

Thankfully Father Time has been kind and writing this blog entry has kept me busy.

This is essentially my home for the next little while... I'll spare you all the details of what's in there. But obviously only the bare essentials made the cut, i.e. Sunblock & Vaseline!

IMG_0005.jpg

Oh yes, nearly forgot but since everyone keeps asking here's my tentative travel outline:

Taiwan
Hong Kong
Vietnam
Cambodia
Laos
Thailand
Indonesia
India
Kenya
Guatemala
Costa Rica
Panama
Venezuela
Colombia
Ecuador
Peru
Bolivia
Argentina
Mexico
(Insert Brazil with Mathieu in there in July 2012)

Days: 1
Level of Exhaustion: zero
Level of Excitement: a billion
Mood: See Level of Excitement

Posted by chang2n 08:46 Archived in Canada Comments (7)

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