Tag Archive: Taiwan

Bitter Sweets

So last week was the beginning of Chinese New Years.

My mom took a flight back to China to visit family, extended family and the changes in her hometown of Beijing.

That means my dad and I had free reign for a week! A full 7 days with some extra hours here and there.

It doesn’t really mean much. We’re not going to host a 50 person + party at the house, and we’re probably not going to go do anything relatively fancy, even if it is the year new.

However that doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything. Since it is the new year, we went out to eat on the eve and the first. Pho and Japanese. Nothing new or exciting.

In fact, the most abnormal thing to occur was after the two nights out.

It was when my dad suggested we drink some beer.

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Welcome Back (just kidding)

WordPress fucked up and I lost my content.

Happy New Years.

Here I am writing about Taiwan day 2, without even finishing day 1’s entry. Mainly because I don’t feel like writing day 1’s… Hopefully I’ll stop being a lazy bum and link some pictures into the entry later. I doubt it though. I DID IT! THERE ARE PICTURES! This should slightly make up the lack of blogs (which makes me think of The Most Least Interesting Man in the World) and original pictures.

So today was a much more intriguing day.

First off, the hotel we stayed at was literally a lakeside hotel. As in if I looked 90 degrees out of the balcony, I would see lake water. It was quite an impressive view. Almost as impressive as the fact that the hotel looked much more impressive and more modern than any hotel I have ever been too. Though it wouldn’t be more impressive than the lakeside view if the view wasn’t foggy.

Here’s a view.


Kind of pretty.

I woke up at 5. AM. Naturally.

Big fucking surprise that I’d wake up extremely early on vacation instead of during school days when I need to wake up that early.


Welcome to the early morning, glad you could wake up.

Breakfast started at 7, which seems natural for Asian countries (though I really only know about China and Taiwan). Breakfast was not what I expected it to be. The only kind of breakfast I’ve had at restaurants for free re the standard continental breakfasts. Cereal, milk, coffee, toast, eggs, and muffin/pancakes if they’re generous. Apparently not here.

This was pretty much a lunch/dinner buffet. Rice, chicken wings, sandwiches, noodles (some Taiwanese make-it-yourself thing), veggies and pretty much whatever you’d expect to find at a Chinese buffet.

And it was free.

Apparently there are a wider variety of things to choose from for breakfast at other hotels.

Just makes me wonder what kind of huge selection that must be, as theirs was more than 5 large dinner tables (the ones that sit probably like 6 people on each side).

They also have a great Christmas tree.


The tree I didn't have this year.

Moving on, apparently we were going up the mountains. Cool. We stopped at places along the way, the most notable one being a temple. Although I do know that Taiwan has some infatuation with 7/11’s. There was like at least 15 that we passed by. Basically any small location that had people, had a 7/11. This store also sells clothes. 7-Select brand clothes. I know I’ve said this before (although no one has seen it yet since it was in the other blog that hasn’t been completed), but what the hell is this, 7/11 has essentially become a 1 stop shopping experience for anything you’d need from a 24 hour store.

I only remember the temple because I was forced (a bit I guess) to do a prayer & wish thing when my mom this prayer/charm thing.

It's pretty, and definitely not gold.

It’s pretty, and definitely not gold.

On the other side it has something about good fortune and educational success. Note: educational, not academic. I did their ritual of blessing and made request(s) during the prayer (though during the ‘wish’ period where I was supposed to think of requests, I was thinking if I was doing it right or not… To redeem myself I made requests afterwards, though I don’t think that works. Probably didn’t redeem myself). Then I hung it on a tree alongside hundreds of other wishes. Maybe someone should give god (or is it ‘God’? I don’t know too much about the statue I was praying to…) overtime pay since he’s going to need it.

This is only one wall.

This is only one wall.

Afterwards, we went up the mountain. Rain likes to come and go in Taiwan much more than Vancouver did for me. Apparently that isn’t normal though. Maybe a little bit of Vancouver has followed us here. Can’t say if that’s a blessing or a curse.

The rain made it not very enjoyable to frequently explore areas outside the car. Which pretty much translates to: what’s an ‘outside’?


On the way up the mountain, the dark rain clouds towered over us and wouldn’t leave us alone. It’s like that damn blue shell in Mario Kart. It won’t stop tracking your ass until it was satisfied with what it has accomplished – ruining your time. Though the rain wasn’t even a big problem on the way up. Our major delay came from a construction site that was in the middle of the road, which we couldn’t pass until they were finished some 40 minutes later.

All about the (mountain) base.

All about the (mountain) base.

Instead, those rain clouds (that eventually stopped housing rain) became the thing to gaze upon on the way up. I mean other than puffy grey-white floating shapes, the bland assortment of rocks and skinny trees didn’t exactly provide much to enjoy. It’s a much more enjoyable time when you think about how you’re trying to reach the clouds.

And we did.

And we went beyond.

The mountain (Alishan) was quite a bit higher than the clouds today. At the peak, there were moments where your typical beach scene’s water had been replaced with clouds. A cloud ocean, they called it in Mandarin (loose translation). While the oceanic scenes of clouds we saw weren’t anything incredible like being literally surrounding by cloud-water, the bits of it that we did get to see were quite pretty.


If you jumped from that cliff, I don’t think you could exactly swim in this ‘ocean’.

Well at the (near) peak of the mountain, we did some sight-seeing again, and went on this little weird train thing. Honestly, I really have no clue how the hell, or why the hell we had to take the train on the way back, or even be on a train at all, but when you have an experienced tour guide, I don’t think you really question it… too much.

Oh right, before I forget, I learned a little about bribery in Asian countries again. 100 Taiwan yuan is what it takes for the bus driver to treat you special. In case you’re wondering why we’re on a bus in the first place (I was), only the mountain’s own buses can drive anywhere beyond the parking lot. Fun, eh.

By the way, exchange rate from Taiwanese Yuan to Canadian Dollars is something like 27 to 1.

So that 100 NT (that’s what all the signs say, I don’t have a clue what it stands for) is pretty much like $4.

I don’t think giving the 410 bus driver 4$ is going to have him drop me off where-ever I want.

Taiwan is cheap.

While I’m on the topic, and before I forget this topic, food is ridiculously cheap as well. Lunch (although it was a quickie) for 4 was 500 NT. That’s less than 20$. Could I even feed 4 people decently with 20$ at McDonalds? I’m not even sure. Before I arrived, I exchanged like $70~ for 2000 NT. I really didn’t know if that was enough to do some gift/clothing shopping, but it probably will be.

Anyways. Back to the train.

Or more like, going back on the train (it’s more like an over-glorified bus).

The tour guide tells me that if you sit near the back of the train, you can see the whole train when it turns. Apparently it looks nice.

And apparently he thinks I should try to take a good picture (apparently he’s missing one like that, can never get it right or something).

So I did.

It's a train. Turning.

It’s a train. Turning.

I like to think it turned out above average. Apparently the tour guide thinks so (at least a bit) since he wants a copy.

Also there’s this random elementary school 2800m high on the mountain.

There's a reason why plants are everywhere around the school.

The highest elementary school ever.

So we went back down the mountain.

On the way down, we met some more clouds, albeit in a less than beautiful way.

Driving down the mountain at 6pm (that means it’s quite dark out) through clouds on a narrow lane that turns 180 degrees is god damn scary. At its worst (which it basically was like all the way down), I couldn’t see 1 meter around the car. Heaven knows how we drove down that path unscathed, but that post I made about my driving experience in dark & heavy-rain couldn’t hold a candle to this. In the rain I was scared of driving into the wrong lane by accident. In the cloud I was scared of what was happening 1 meter in front of me – and I wasn’t even driving.


“Hello, Pretty. Nice to see you. If I could see you.”

Oh, there were some ‘cloud waterfalls’ (more loose translations!) on the way down. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of them as it was when we were in the car, trying to make it to the hotel before 9 (aka: in a rush). Also it’s hard to just stop on that single curvy road down the mountain. It exactly what it sounds like, a waterfall with gas instead of liquid. It was quite neat. Have some more clouds as compensation.

The layering of the clouds looks pleasing.

The layering of the clouds looks pleasing.

Now I’m in some weird traditional-home styled hotel, where the room feels like a large living room. There’s a lot of empty space, and this really feels like two rooms mashed into one. The shower/bath is some weird all stone Japanese-like bath where you have to sit and wash yourself. I would take picture of that but washroom pictures aren’t very savory.

Here’s the room. Don’t ask about the weird bed.


Seriously, don't ask.

Maybe I should sleep.

Breakfast isn’t at 7 tomorrow.

It’s at 6.