The tea house from outside
When we finished eating dinner and watched the firework display, we headed to Jiu Fen, which used to be an old coal/gold mine and the surrounding area has different colored water shaped in a yin-yang. Unfortunately, it was already 9pm at that time so we were not able to see the different depths of water that cause the change in color at this place. However, we were able to go to Ah Mei Cha, a tea house that they used as the model for the tea house in the movie, Spirited Away. We stayed there until about 11pm and then headed back to Keelung.
At the Evergreen hotel after breakfast
The next day, we got up to go have breakfast at the Evergreen Hotel. You'll notice that this was not our first time staying in one of their hotels. Last time we went to Taipei to see Lang Lang play piano, we also stayed at the Evergreen hotel.
After breakfast, we went hiking on Wang Yo Gu mountain. Wang Yo Gu literally means "forget [your] worr[ies'] valley." Whoever named the mountain wanted you to know that when you stand on the mountain, you will forget everything unpleasant. It was a nice hike, but it was really hot.
After our hike, one of the taxi drivers told us to go to another mountain for a hike. So, after lunch we asked another taxi driver to take us there. It turns out, it was the same mountain, but instead of hiking to the top, you drive to the top! It was a good laugh. We decided to go back to Chia-Ling's office to rest and later hike on a trail around her university. The last hike in Keelung, I got tons of mosquito bites!
You can find more pictures HERE.
It was a great trip and I really thank my host family for taking me. It was really nice to see my other co-teacher who will be leaving for England in a few weeks to defend her PhD dissertation (It's her second PhD). Congratulations, Chia-Ling & good luck!
Here are some pictures of the eateries we've been to and the food we've tried.
Spare-rib noodle soup and tofu
I also really like this place:
Be sure to check out more pictures of the food I've tasted in Taiwan in this album.
There is also a special type of barbecuing that takes place in Taiwan. In Taiwanese, it's called Kong Tou Ye. It's a style of barbecuing that takes one full day and the effort of the whole family. A few people use stones to build a little oven (see picture above). Meanwhile, other people use water, newspaper, and mud to wrap eggs, chicken, and other meats they want to bake.
When the stones get hot enough, you take the all the charcoal inside the oven out and put the things you want to bake inside. The Taiwanese call it "men." Then, you cover the entire thing with dirt. That is, you cover the entire oven with dirt so it bakes the entire stuff inside this little mound of dirt and stones. It's really cool. The picture to the right is a picture of all the foods you would want to bake wrapped in newspaper and mud.
When we got to Taipei, we walked around a lot because we got there super early. The outdoor concert started at 7pm; we got there at 6pm. It was also lightly raining in Taipei and it was much colder than Kaohsiung. The wind chill is not as awful as Iowa winter weather, but it was colder than the 70 degree weather in Kaohsiung. I borrowed Chia-Ling's coat because I didn't bring any real winter clothes because I thought this tiny little island wouldn't be cold. Well, I sure was proven wrong when I got a cold last month during the weather change. Anyway, thank you Chia-Ling for letting me borrow your coat; it kept me very warm =D.
When the concert started at 7pm, it was pretty cool because Kate, Chao-Wei, and I got pretty good spots considering we were so early. There were many famous singers at the concert, but I don't really remember their names. However, I did see S.H.E. sing several songs, this guy from Tainan who wore cool glasses (see pictures below), and I really wanted to see MayDay (Wu Yue Tian) sing, but they were last. We left our good spot in front of the concert early because we wanted to be near the MRT to beat the mad rush home after the fireworks. I was really grateful that did that because we got to where we were staying at 1:30am and not 2 or 3 am.
The Famous Singers at the Outdoor Concert (at least up until we left for a closer location near the MRT)...
Click to enlarge the pictures
The next day, I was very tired, but I had an excellent breakfast to start the New Year. Check it out:
We met up with some of Chao-Wei's friends in Taipei and we had lunch at Din Tai Feng. After lunch, we headed to the biggest night market in Taipei, Shi Lin Yie Shi. Lots of fun! You can see lots of photos in Taiwan Photo Set 27.
The cook-it-in-front-of-you barbecue style (above)
I have tried so many different kinds of food while in Taiwan. Be sure to check it out in this album.
All the students + me + Tai-Shia
Speaking to the students. On the far right was the student host who selected questions to ask me. All the students wrote questions for me.
Another pictures with all the students
Me with some of Tai-Shia's English students
Isn't this part of the high school so cool?! The students told me that during break time, they'll stand and just look out into the distance on this cool "bridge hallway."
The reception was outdoors and the food was laid out buffet style. Many different restaurants came to exhibit their dishes including Din Tai Feng. The food was very good. At the reception a few us got silhouette portraits done for free. I've never had a silhouette picture of myself before and our whole apartment is going to hang them above our television for decoration =D.
The day after 10/10, a few of us went to the National Palace Museum and the National Taiwan University campus. I've already been to the National Palace Museum, but the last time I went I only had an hour or two in the museum. This time around, I spent more time in the exhibitions.
The seats at the restaurant
Taking a little shower in the restaurant =D
Hot Pot in a toilet bowl!
Rice curry, chicken, and cheese dish in a bathtub bowl!
Our drinks came in this
Kate getting napkins for Selena!
Dessert: ice cream in Taiwanese squatting toilets =D
And then...came the humongous dessert shaved ice with strawberry, strawberry syrup, fruit, and ice cream.
There are several "Modern Toilet" Restaurants in Taiwan, and they just opened up two restaurants in Hong Kong. We had a really great time at the restaurant. Food was good, atmosphere was great, and company was hilarious. We talked and laughed so much while we ate that the whole restaurant kept on turning their heads and either glared at us, or just stared at us. Good times!
The next day, we rested and took a boat tour on the "Love River" and went to Qijin island. It was incredibly fun and I got to see much of Taiwan. On the boat tour, I saw the Hong Kong Navy (I'm not too sure why it was there), and an oil rig. When we arrived at Qijin, a group of us decided to hike to the top of the lighthouse on Qijin island. The lighthouse was closed, but the scenic overlooks were absolutely beautiful. I had yummy barbecued squid for dinner later that day at Qijin. There was also a Taiwanese boy band playing in the open space at Qijin island. You'll see in the pictures a group dancing and holding a boat on top of their heads.
During the next few days, we applied for our ARCs (Alien Resident Certificate) visited Xiziwan Beach, visited English Village (a place where 5th graders and other students can come practice prearranged English dialogs), and ate/shopped at the night markets (specifically Liuhe Yeshi and Zhong Xiao).