Well, we’ve been a bit busy for blog posts the last few days, but hopefully we will be slowing down in the next 10 days to leave a bit more room for resting up, blogging, and seeing a few more tourist-y locations. I’m just going to hit the highlights of the last week or so to catch you up to speed. I figure, if I took a picture of it, it surely must be interesting enough to entertain you folks!
Ok, absolutely have to mention the amazing dough factory we went to. Taiwan has these traditional figurines made out of dough that they’ve been making for years. You used to be able to eat them, but now it’s turned into more of a children’s toy thing and there are too many chemicals to eat it. The dough is kind of like playdough (except more malleable) and kind of like model magic (except it dries a lot harder). It’s great stuff and I bought a ton of it to bring home with me. I anticipate using it up pretty quickly, but that’s fine. I got a card to buy even more online! The factory was set up with a small museum and show room and we saw all sorts of things made out of the dough, from tiny gods to giant toadstools, to miniature men selling dough figurines. We also saw some of the very old ones in various stages of decomposition, which was pretty cool looking, let me tell you! Pictures to follow! We also each got a small replica of ourselves made out of dough by the master dough sculptor and owner of the factory. Very cool!
Of course, I have to mention our trip to Sun Moon Lake, allegedly one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan, though I can’t swear to it quite yet. There’s still 11 days left! We rode bicycles along the edge of the lake and saw the culture center with some examples of aboriginal art and went to a famous restaurant nearby that overlooked the lake. If you take the elevator in the back up to the top of the restaurant, you can stand on a clear glass platform and look out over the water. It was very beautiful, though a few members of our party found it pretty frightening. (Sorry, Michey!) We wound up running out of time to see everything, so we are going to try very hard to go back again before we leave to see the aboriginal village!
We also went to a tea factory and along the way we stopped to see a bunch of monkeys begging for food from the people on the side of the road. There was an adorable baby monkey eating what looked like a waffle and a bunch of grown-ups eating fruit. They came very close, but we were warned to back away because apparently they are pretty strong and will try to steal any purses or bags they get their hands on. I’m guessing they have some kind of deal with the local mob–they seem pretty organized.
Anyway, we did get to the tea factory and had a quick tour and delicious tea. The owner showed us a tea ceremony, his tea plants, and also his left hand. I know what you’re thinking–but wait, there is a story here. When the owner was 8 years old, he was harvesting tea and two of his fingers got sliced off in the machine. Instead of being justifiably cranky, he has turned his lost fingers into a whole marketing campaign. His tea is known as two-finger tea and he has two little sliced-off finger tip mascots! You can buy little pillows and cases and such all shaped like this guy’s severed fingertips! He even has a t-shirt of him as a child with his fingers bleeding and him crying. He’s really made it work for him!
Besides, these awesome trips, we’ve gone to a gourmet farm-to-table restaurant, seen a museum full of carved wooden statues, taken pictures in the most expensive temple bathroom in Taiwan, and ridden a sugar cane train, so we are definitely keeping busy. I’ll try to update a bit more regularly, but wi-fi isn’t always easy to come by! So, until I blog again,