Saturday, February 23, 2008

So Chinese New Year just ended a couple of weeks ago. I went up to Taipei to visit Janelle for a few days, and was reminded why I don't live in Taipei. The weather had been cold (50-ish) and rainy here, but it was somehow even rainier there. It smelled like mildew everywhere. We went out in service and to IKEA but spent most of our time huddled up in our winter coats, wrapped up in comforters, watching movies. Which would have seemed sad if I'd done it by myself, but it was fun with someone else!

For the rest of Chinese New Year, I did a long bike ride with some friends- up to a dam in a town called JhoLan. I thought once we got there there would be a flat bike path along the lake but it turned out to be strenuous hills on a road around the lake. It was beautiful scenery, though, and we wound up only about 15 km from a hiking/ hot spring area I'd gone to over Moon Festival holidays- which I took a horrible train/ bus/ taxi route to get to, thinking it was way too far to scooter. So I would like to make a bike trip of it again sometime.

Also I spent a day in Dakeng, the hiking area near Taichung. I went by myself. It was fun if crowded. Even though the temperature was so cold I quickly worked up a sweat. I saw a whole pack of monkeys- kind of distant but you could see them going through the trees. I kept standing looking at them and people would ask me what I was watching, but I totally couldn't remember the work for monkey and didn't have the energy to play charades so I just pretended I couldn't understand Mandarin. Heehee. Finally a weird guy in very tight sweatpants came up and gathered that I was watching monkeys, and when they didn't move for a while he started throwing rocks at them.

Today (Saturday) was a rare light teaching day. Usually I teach 10-12, then 1:30 to 5:30. But today no afternoon classes because the kids had a big test to take. So I figured I'd make a long afternoon of biking, but I woke up late so I wound up driving my scooter to work, and then it started raining (the first rainy day in over a week). When I got home a nap seemed so tempting but I dragged myself out on my bike. I rode up a very long hill outside of town to an overlook I'd heard about. It was cool but with the rain and fog you couldn't see much. Very peaceful and beautiful ride though. I figured I should be able to keep going and eventually go down the hill to a bike trail I knew about. At a certain point I kind of lost the main road though (it was called County Road 90 but didn't seem to have any markers) and you never know when there will be a road going down a hill in Taiwan- since everything tends to slide down the mountains, roads tend to be pretty big endeavors, and therefore rare in hilly areas- and since it was starting to rain again and getting late I figured I'd save that exploring for another time. So I turned around- 2 hour ride up the hill, 20 minute ride down!

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