Thursday, March 03, 2011
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
~ a flat sheet. They just don't use them and you just can't buy them. Don't bother bringing a whole set of sheets, as they won't fit, but you'll be happy to have a flat sheet.
~ cold medicine. You will get sick, and cold medicine technology in Taiwan is kind of stuck in the 80s. So bring your Nyquil and Aleve Cold & Sinus.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The town of Mui Wo didn’t have much going on- I failed to change some money (small banks don’t take Taiwan $$) and went to a grocery store to stock up on food for the day, including…
OK, my self-photography skill are poor, but those are salt & vinegar potato chips, baby! At regular potato chip prices! Also water, nuts and a coke, all of which I needed as the day went on. I got a quick lunch from a stand at the pier, then caught a bus to Tai O, the old fishing village.\
The houses there were built on stilts over the water, but really it was only the porch that was over the water and you couldn’t see them that well. Lots of shops selling dried fish and whatnot. There were also people offering boat rides, which might have been cool, but the busses only ran once an hour and I didn’t want to spend much more time there. Also on the boats supposedly you have a chance at seeing pink dolphins which are only found in Hong Kong. But I feel bad about chasing endagered species so I don’t know. Having a bus to catch made it an easy decision. By the way there were really clear bus routes and schedules at all the tourist stops so you knew when the next one was coming.
After a little time at a gift shop I started searching for the trailhead for the Lantau Peak trail. Things got a little confusing and I ran across an Australian couple who seemed to think I was on the right path.
But I walked ahead to find this blocking the road:
Yes, I grew up around cows. Yes, there were other people around. And I figured the chances were, those guys were pretty tame. But… see those horns? I turned around and ran into the Australian couple again… I guess several paths interconnected but soon enough I saw a sign pointing me to my trail.
This is the view from partway up. It was slightly rugged, though there were steps in places. It was HOT (if you go, I’d recommend doing it in the morning, when the sun will be on the other side of the mountain) and steep. The guidebook said it would take over an hour to reach the peak and it took much more than that. There weren’t many people on the trail but enough that I felt safe. Most were other tourists. I stopped and had my chips and soda at one point- glad I had it!
There were also people week-whacking the trail. This turned out to be really helpful- I’d say less than 20% of the trail hadn’t been weed-whacked yet but it was some tall grass to walk through. No snakes in Hong Kong, right?
As I got near the top some clouds started rolling in, as you can see in the picture above. I ran into some girls from New Jersey who seemed content with the view near the top and decided to turn around. I considered it but I figured if you’re going to climb 1.75 km, might as well climb 2. I ran into the girl at the bottom of this photo, who is a Hong Kong native and spoke English.
Can’t seem to find all the pictures I took but this is overlooking the airport and another part of Hong Kong I believe. In the other directions you just saw mountains and a beautiful lake.
After a short rest my new buddy and I started down the mountain. I planned to take the cable car down from the Buddha and then the subway back to the hotel. Except I got there at 6:02 and the place closed at 6! Such a bummer. And all the food stands were closed too- it had been such a busy place earlier and it was like a ghost town! So I took a loooong bus ride with my new buddy, but it was all I could do to maintain a little bit of pleasantness cause man was I hungry and thirsty. The outlet mall had food options- I chose a grocery store which was set up like a maze- I was this close to sitting down and eating my turkey apple salad first and paying for it later- and I was too beat to do any outlet shopping. It looked like a regular mall anyways. Overall this island was very cool, although I’d plan things differently if I had it to do again. Oh well. So amazed that there were so many beautiful and wild places in Hong Kong! I honestly think I could spend a few days on this island just hiking and beaching.
Monday, August 09, 2010
OK, Penghu was beautiful. By far the nicest beaches in Taiwan.
On Day 2 we had some breakfast, and did a little bit of shopping, and then split up- 2 went for a glass-bottom boat tour, and Jessica and I went to a beach to hang out and later have surfing lessons. She wanted to surf and we randomly saw a Chinese flyer (that did say “Surf Club” or something in English) and we read enough to see that they offered surfing lessons, and had a name and cell phone number of a foreigner. We called him in the morning and he told us to come to Shan Shui beach, and the waves would be best around the high tide at 3 pm.
We got a taxi to take us to the “Fenggui blowholes” (cool rock formations) then drop us at the beach. We wound up getting the same taxi driver from the day before (I didn’t recognize him because I was in the back) and he was like, “Yesterday, there were 4 foreign English teachers who went snorkeling. Do you know them?” Uh, we are them! It was a pretty funny taxi ride. At one point he said he was over 60, and I said he only looked to be in his 40s. He was all happy so I asked (jokingly) if he could give us a cheaper fare. “If you tell me I look like I’m in my 20s, it’s free!” he said.
The foreigner told us that beach umbrellas and pizza were available at the Penghu Surf Club, but it was so hot and the sun was so strong that we didn’t want to walk around looking for it. We found a place that had umbrellas to rent and basic Taiwanese food and they were the least friendly people I’ve ever dealt with. :) No matter, we got an umbrella and a quick lunch and headed to the beach. It was around noon and the umbrella was awesome. There was hardly anyone on the beach at this point. We went in the water for a while, and relaxed for a while. The beach was great, with no rocks or coral, and the water was very clear. Pretty enough that some people came to take wedding photos! In Taiwan they take photos in their wedding clothes early and then give out pictures at the actual event. Still, I can’t imagine getting sand on such a pretty wedding gown!
After a while the crowds started to pick up but the waves didn’t. Behind the beach over a flood wall there were some vendors setting up so I would occasionally go to get more cold water and then I got a snack that I thought was some mysterious sea creature. It turned out to be a kind of fried sweet-potato pancake. Well my poor Chinese skills got me delicious food for once. But as soon as I got back under the unbrella this dumb dog came up to us, thinking it would get my food. I had to eat my snack away from our blanket and encouraged the dog to go away in both English and Chinese, much to the amusement of the other beach-goers. I had to go throw my wrapper and drink away so she wouldn’t lay by our towels and stink it up.
In the meantime, as the sun made its way across the sky, our umbrella began to cast more and more shade. A family with 2 little boys kind of camped out at the edge of our shade, which was no problem at first because they were cute. Later though it got awkward. Many little kids just wear their underwear at the beach but in this case their underwear quickly go wet so the parents took it off, leaving us with 2 half-naked boys playing in the sand 3 feet from us. And it was the wrong half that was naked.
When they left, the other 2 made it back from the glass boat and onto the beach. Even before they came, these 2 Taiwanese guys, in jeans and t-shirts, started standing at the edge of our shade, staring at us, and discussing us in Chinese. My efforts to get them to go away went from glaring at them, to asking them to leave, to having a rather poetic Chinese exchange in which I extolled the virtues of looking at the sea, the mountains and the many Taiwanese people instead of at foreigners, and finally to moving our umbrella so that it was between us and them, at which point they just moved so they could keep looking at us. Happily the sun was going down and it was soon time to leave anyways.
After a quick shower at the hotel we walked over to a restaurant we’d seen last night- “Havana Bar & Grill” with 6 choices of thin-crust pizza and lots of choices of coctails, with a bilingual menu and English-speaking manager. Quite delightful.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
2. I can understand more Cantonese than Taiwanese.
3. Holy smokes is everything expensive.
3a. Um, Western food everywhere? Like I'd have to go out of my way to get something other than a Cobb salad and crepes?
3b. I cry a little inside when I think about how much I spent on water yesterday.
4. Having fun and have figured out how to spend only moderate amounts of money.
5. Public transportation is convenient and easily understood (unlike in Pittsburgh and Taichung). But mostly expensive (see 2).
6. Except the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor, which is apparently one of the 25 things to do before you die? That is 2 Hong Kong Dollars... which is more than it sounds but still way less than an American dollar.