Part 2 - click here
June 14, 2010 (Monday)
The building below, with its blue glazed roof is the Memorial Hall. Two sets of stairs, both with 89 steps, lead to the main entrance of the hall. The 89 steps is significant as it represents Chiang Kai Shek's age before he died. Trying to prove this, Berns and I counted out loudly as we climbed up and down the stairs - both times we only came up with 88. We weren't sure if our math teachers would be proud of our counting abilities.
We were each handed a sheet with the list of items the store was offering and the prices of each. Our task was to fill up the number of packs we would like to order. Apparently, with the great reviews we personally created in our minds from all that tasting (we weren't really just tasting, we kept getting our favorite flavors until the box for the item has been emptied out), many from our group didn't leave empty handed.
After this little food recess, we headed back to the bus to go to the National Palace Museum. It was a modern museum, very well-lit and equipped with high tech equipment that I've never experienced here in the Philippines. We were each handed an ear piece, so we can all hear our tour guide's instructions and explanations of the art works. This was a great help, as it eliminated tour guides screaming histories to their groups, contesting with the other guides elaborating on other iconic items.
As a little information tidbit, Taiwan is an island, Tommy told us. The common mode of transport is through cycling. It was such a common thing, that the government created public bicycles that the people could just get from bike stands and return to a different bike stand after use. No one would dare steal the said bicycles, clearly government property was marked all over it - no one would also dare purchase it.
The below picture has enough room for debate. We really couldn't determine what it resembles - others say it looks like the snout of a crocodile looking hungrily at a prey, others say it looks like a dinosaur, personally, it makes me think of a hippo, half hiding under the water. Whatever it is, it caught our attention.
And of course, the rock formation we've all came to see - the Queen's head, also called as the 女王頭. Tommy told us that in some occasions, there would be a long queue for groups and individuals to have their photo taken with the said formation. It was such a popular formation that people would sometimes end us bickering and fighting with each other just to get ahead of the other for a photograph.
Below is a photo of us, girls, with a variety of rock formations. We weren't really allowed to touch them. For whatever reason, I didn't bother asking.There was a curious item buried on the soil, with carvings of a flower on it. We saw it a little too late and weren't able to ask our tour guide about it anymore.
Once again, it was time for everyone's favorite part of the trip. Shopping. The bus went through a winding path up a mountain, until we reached the Chiufen Village.
A noteworthy moment during this travel would have to be the time I dared to eat snails. For 50 Taiwan money, I bought myself a cup of barbequed snails swimming in soy sauce. It was a chewy treat, that made me think of eating squid - but it's definitely not something that I'd go craving for in the middle of the night though.
At the end of the long narrow street of shop vendors is an awesome view of whatever it is you're seeing below. Once we've mostly completed our shopping, we headed on to dinner. Being our last night in Taiwan, Tommy definitely saved the best for last.
The food were generally good and tasty, served in big, heavy plates and bowls. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously, surrounded by ethnic-like artworks and metal play.
In the Five Dime Boathouse brochure, there is a quote that I'd like to key down here.
Below is the most expensive corn I've ever eaten in my life, and to add, from the sidewalk. Depending on the weight of the corn, we got one at 110 Taiwan money. After choosing your corn, the vendor would then attach it to a mechanism or whatever that may be, that would cook the corn, revolving over the hot coals. What made this a wee bit different, is that the vendor would wipe on some sauce over the corn. The brownish sauce would then bubble as it heats up, making it look oh so yummy.
So here I am with our corn. Bern, Eveleen, Cathy and myself are sharing this one corn. It tasted like corn with Teriyaki sauce - it was chewy and a little difficult to eat. For my side, I felt that I wasn't really enjoying it as much, and boy, did we realize everyone shared the same sentiment.
Of course, a trip to Taiwan won't be complete without a dare at Stinky Tofu. We were 7 pitted against this one bowl of stench galore. After the first bite, most of us have already had enough. This Taiwan delicacy has always been so controversial for me - what makes it so tasty to the locals? One bite, and I felt like I've placed an entire provincial communal bathroom inside my mouth.
Because there were still plenty left, and since I was the one who was so adamant in trying it, I took it upon myself to eat as much of this specialty as I could. After a few more bites, my tongue began to acquire a taste for it, and it wasn't as bad as I initially conditioned my mind to think it is - but whenever someone would make a crude comment against it, my bias would kick in and my tongue would send a revolting signal to my brain.
After an seemingly excruciatingly long battle against it, we were able to finish off the Stinky Tofu - rushing towards the nearest drinks stall to wash our throats down with some cool, sweet milk tea and Taiwanese halo-halo.
June 15, 2010 (Tuesday)
It was a blast. Until the next trip.
Some photos were personal photos taken from my camera, others were grabbed, with permission, from Connie Ong, Allen Ong, Eveleen Ong, Bernie Ong and Mark Wang's albums.