Sunday, 14 August 2011

And FINALLY - wrapping Taiwan...(Part 8 - I know, I know...)

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Team Taylor is at the start of a STRONG run of AFD's this week, as we need to detox from last night's activities AND we've got to prep for NEXT weekend, as we'll have another blast from the London past gracing the streets of Sing Sing. Who, you ask? Stay tuned...
So on the last Saturday in Taiwan, the Bull and Striker popped up about 9:30 to the sound of well, more construction. Granted, it wasn't AS bad this time, and they did wait until about 9 AM to resume construction of the Tower of Babel, but all the same it was less than ideal. After a final round of packing and admiring the view (we did have THE BEST view from a hotel that we've ever had, as we had a direct view of Taipei 101 and the mountains in the distance - I just couldn't stop looking at it), Team Taylor dropped our bags with the Valet and hopped back on the red line for the final batch of activities, these both taking place in the suburb of Guandu.
Guandu is home to 3 things: the oldest Taoist temple in Taiwan, the Guandu Nature park, and THE BEST Mango juices you've ever had. Seriously - we just KEPT sucking these things down. It was also the place where we discovered "Pokey Sweat," which was how we pronounced the energy that JT had fallen in love with. It's actually "Pocari Sweat" for the record, and I have NO IDEA what country is comes from - I just know that it's guuuuuuuuuuuuuuud.
Guandu temple was, simply put - FANTASTIC. It really was a major highlight of the trip, as it went on and on and on (Like Sven when you give him some 28 Black). The temple, constructed in the 1660's, has been cut into the side of the mountain, and the art work (stone, wood, gold trim, etc) was JUST AMAZING. We spent about 2 hours at this place taking in the various views, and I gotta say - whoever the long-bearded Tao God is - I do NOT want to mess with him. The big black eyeballs really creep me out. I'm bringing some terracotta soldiers with me next time for protection.
The day was INSANELY hot, but there were enough spots with shade or cover that we could explore the area for quite a while. We were the only Ang Mo's there, and we did get quite a few funny looks. However, we offered quite a few funny looks back, as the artwork and the stories depicted in the carvings and paintings was COMPLETELY foreign to me. Rice - can a brother get an explanation on some of these? There had to be a reference to "Gahenna" in there somewhere.
After that we took in the Guandu Nature reserve which was, well, less than stellar. Now don't get me wrong, we did see a few cool birds, but by and large it was just one big marsh 97% under construction. Apparently there's a HUGE section of wetlands with tons of birds, but that's the "preservation area" where humans aren't allowed to go. Fair enough, but do you have to ENCLOSE THE WHOLE THING WITH A TENT YOU CAN'T SEE THROUGH? SERENITY NOW!!!! But hey, it was $1.50 USD to get in, so can I really complain? Exactly...
After that, it was off for the final stop of the tour so that the Taylors could do the one thing they do REALLY well - EAT. We rocked back to the Q Mall (in Taipei Main Station) food court, where we set to polish EVERYTHING not bolted to the ground. During the rather impressive grazing session, we discovered a bakery called "Yamazaki," and let me tell you - this place CHANGED OUR LIVES. They had this triple cheese bread (think asiago and parmesan cheese on top of a warm bun FILLED with chunks of cheddar in the middle - yeah, EXACTLY...) that was to DIE for, and we ate 3 of them (as well as a few donuts) before setting down to our main dishes. I finally got one of the Japanese skillet dishes, and it was so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud (peppy cheekies). Seriously - there are few countries on earth that can rival Taiwan in the realm of eats - VERY impressive.
It was then off to the airport, where the flight got off (more or less) on time, and we landed back in Sing Sing just after 2 in the morning, hailing a cabbie at the budget terminal for the FOURTH WEEK IN A ROW. But hey, no complaints, as it was the end of an AMAZING trip, and Team Taylor was ready to be back in the Lion City.
So there you have it - almost a month to the day after leaving for the adventure, I finally get all the activities committed to paper. Next up - recapping Borneo! But that, dear friends, will just have to wait until tomorrow, as Muffin Puffin is whipping up some green curry, and we're currently tucking into some bleu cheese stuffed olives - YUUUUUMMMMAAAAAAAAAHHH.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny

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