Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jiufen, Taiwan- An Old Mining Town

On the second morning we were in Taiwan we decided to rent a taxi for the day. The taxi would take us anywhere we wanted to go, within reason. I had researched an old gold mining town in the mountains that is a poplar tourist attraction and it looked like something right up my alley. We got in our taxi and drove almost two hours up into the mountains. It was so worth it! We got there early enough in the morning that it wasn't packed with tourists. We climbed up a watch tower and looked at the incredible view overlooking the ocean. We wandered through the tiny alleyways, going into shops, trying different foods, and looking inside of cute tea houses with awesome views. At this point in our life living abroad, we have been to many different markets and they have all started to blend together. This one was so unique, though, because you could feel the history behind it and it still had that cute old world charm. Plus, it was interesting to see how people live on the side of a mountain. Let's just say, we climbed way too many stairs for a hot and humid day.

Next stop: waterfall!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Umi no Hi- Celebrating the Ocean

Yesterday was the Japanese holiday Umi no Hi, a holiday celebrating the ocean and to give thanks to its bounty. I love that the Japanese are so respectful and appreciative to nature and take time to stop and give thanks for the wonderful world we live in. Living on an island, the ocean is part of everyday life. I have always loved the beach, who doesn't, but living here has made me appreciate the ocean even more. Living in a foreign country is hard, but the breathtaking beauty of the ocean and the fun the beach brings has made living here so much easier. I can be having a crappy day and turn the corner to a beautiful view of the ocean and I am instantly happy.

I decided I couldn't let the holiday pass without stopping by the beach. I went to a nearby beach and grabbed a Hawaiian shave ice with the 30 local teenagers who were out of school. I sat on the rocks and ate my shave ice. The locals use this holiday to be off work and spend time at the beach. When can we get a holiday like this in the states??

We spent lots of time with the ocean this weekend because we are now owners of our own kayak! Jake had been wanting to get one since we moved here, but I didn't think it was worth it because there are so many places to rent one. Jake was checking out the Craigslist like website here and found a two-seater kayak with all of the gear for a great price. Jake convinced me of all of the cool places we could go on a whim in our kayak, so I agreed. We tried it out on Sunday at one of the places we had been eyeing. It was an incredibly beautiful day and kayaking was a blast! We paddled to a secluded beach and walked around. We tried to snorkel but failed, as the sea is still a bit stirred up from the recent typhoon. I also had a broken snorkel, which I discovered after I got a mouthful of seawater. After hopping back in the kayak, we saw tons of jellyfish, so we were glad we didn't stay in the water long. We are so excited for many kayaking adventures in the near future. 

We are also blessed to have a wonderful view of the ocean from our house. We are on the east coast, so we don't get the sunset and aren't usually up for the 5 am sunrise, but we still get to see beautiful skies as the sun drops down on the East Chine Sea on the other side of the island. We have had some incredibly beautiful evenings in our backyard. How is it that sunsets never get old?

So here is to the ocean and all of the joy and beauty it provides. How lucky are we to live in a world with sunsets, beach days, marine life, seafood, and all of the wonderful things the ocean bring!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Exploring Taipei Part 2: Taipei 101 and Din Tai Fung

After exploring Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial in Taipei, we headed over to Taipei 101. It was such a neat place with tons of shopping and restaurants. It was full of all of the high end fashion like stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. We stopped at a cute cafe and I ate a delicious macaroon. We then waited in line for the fastest elevator in the world to take us to the top. The views from the top were so cool! It was fun to feel like we were above the world for a few minutes.

After Taipei 101 we decided to head home and shower since it had been a hot and humid day of walking around. We got ready and headed out for dinner. I had heard of a restaurant with a couple of branches called Din Tai Fung. I wasn't sure what to expect since I had never had dim sum, but we hopped on the subway and headed to one of the branches in a giant mall. The wait was so long, so we shopped and watched them make the dumplings while we waited. We were so hungry by the time we were seated around 8:30, but it was 100% worth the wait! It was absolutely amazing. We had all sorts of dumplings with different fillings in different sauces. I had never tasted anything like it. I am still craving it to this day. 

Next time I will share our experience at the mountain mining town of Jiufen, one of the things I was most excited for!