We spent Saturday gallivanting across Luodong’s endless street corners. One particular stroll led us straight into the doors of the famous dumpling chain Ba Fang Yun ji (八方雲集). Among the five of us, we managed to sample five dumpling styles–veggie, Korean, curry, pork and some other delicious concoction of seasoned meat. (After hours on Adobe and various Googling, finally figured out how to save edits. Freaking Lightroom, how I loathe to love thee).
We set off to meet the other Luodong ETA’s at a nearby Starbucks. Unbeknownst to us, as we walked by one of the Taiwanese Valentine’s Day installments to take photographs, we immediately passed up the elusive location. Foiled again. At least we look cute?
We ended up aimlessly wandering the streets of Luodong for our friends, only to circle back to Starbucks with the help of a few friendly strangers. On the way, we managed to grab some delicious boba.
After a short siesta in our apartment in the early afternoon, we decided to explore the Luodong Sports Complex just outside our door. Really, just a space filled with impossibly beautiful sights and scenic walking paths. Did I mention there was a water show? And ridiculously artsy bridges? And “a-rock-nids?” My best pun ever on a rock formation that looked like a spider statue. Bahahaha…
Mosquito-bitten and drenched in our own sweat, we began wading through the humidity back towards our apartment. We ended up eating at a “Zidong Huguo” place, which was not actually hot pot, but an all-you-can-eat steak place. Still, not bad. My favorite were these custard-y butter-filled buns they gave us as a not-so calorie-conscious starter. Fantastic. The rest of the food was just okay and not that pretty to photograph.
We wrapped the night up with night market ventures. Due to the extreme crowds and copious amounts of stinky tofu stank wafting in the air, I neglected to take pictures and opted to use my hands for fanning, defense, and cutting across endless waves of people. All I remember is a sign that said, “Wow! Frog eggs!,” sampling grilled octopus and weaving into stores for some AC. The best part of Saturday came in crashing on the bed after a full day of adventure.
The next morning, we woke up early from jet lag and heat to the promise of a day trip to Taipei. We met up with the other Luodonians for brunch at this little niche brunch joint known fondly as Shark Bites Toast.
I wanted to order strawberries and vanilla ice cream waffles, but they were out of strawberries and they only serve waffles in the afternoon. So they changed my order to mango french toast with ice cream. Completely not what I craved, but pretty spectacular. Look at it…drool…
Washed down with a side of Papaya milk, and it was the perfect carbo-loaded sugarbomb that I wanted it to be.
We headed down the street to the bus station, grabbed our tickets, and spent the next hour hurdling through mountain tunnels to Taipei. Once, there, we walked the 27+ block stretch of City Mall, an underground shopping extravaganza reminiscent of Mong Kok in the brevity of cheap paraphernalia available to the laymen. I bought a copious amount of hair ties and a peplum top, all in polkadots or stripes (typical, I know). The mall hosted a Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival topped with red lanterns and otaka-ed locals galore. A bit hectic and super-kawaii.
We ended up meeting with Kevin, one of Emi’s new introductions at the MRT entrance. After an unexpected downpour, we ate at a Shanhainese style restaurant, complete with amazing pork buns, before moving to the main event. Snowflake ice. Behold.
Glorious, am I right? No photoshop on this one either. Giant mounds of awesomeness, pure condensed milk and fruit awesom
eness. Anyways, we topped off these ice monsters from the Smoothie house and went happily off to explore Taipei 101, bellies bursting at the seams. All the while, we had to fend off some interesting photobombers, including one that managed to sandwich herself into 2 of the 3 images I took in front of the LOVE sign. Sigh.
Funnily enough, we saw some very unfortunate people posing on the wrong side…pity. The view was great all around though.
We made our way across Taipei 101 to what we thought was a cafe renovated from the remnants of a military base. Unfortunately, it was closed or condemned, gorgeous location aside.
While we managed to catch a few breaths at another undisclosed location, we made complete fools of ourselves due to soon-to-depart bus. We scrambled out of the restaurant, laying down a few apologetic bills for the confused owner before bolting. Despite our hasty exit, the twilight ride home left us all feeling more settled.
After our weekend of first successes and disasters, we made it all in one piece back to the Yilan Teaching Center. These past two days we’ve been touring schools to figure out which one we might be best suited to. Monday was mostly Yilan and other northern schools while Tuesday covered everything south from Luodong to Su Ao. With 6-8 schools each day, it was madness. We shuttled every 15 minutes to survey another location.
Stay tuned once I get my act together for le Tour de Yilan! I have extensive notes, pictures and video clips for you. Touring and choosing schools for an ETA is no joke, even with a little luck of the draw.
However, we did get to have a bit of fun at the beach, which I’ll leave you with until tomorrow.
See you after our first scooter practice!