Sunday, January 27, 2008
Taiwan - Part 2
You know how it is, when you come back from a holiday and your friends will ask you how it was?
Usually it's an "oh, it was great!" or an "well, it was quite good", and then there's the "hmm... it was a'ight I guess?" and the mandatory "okay-lah".
But then again, there's also the "Man, it was fantastic!", kinda bordering on "It was the best holiday ever!".
And the latter was more accurate of my own response. I've been telling everyone how wonderful Taiwan is, how picturesque the moutains are and how it was like me being in a Chinese painting. And it is true, that was how I felt. I literally fell in love with Taiwan, their mountains, the people, the food and the fresh mountain air.
Friends who know me, would know that Taiwan wouldn't actually be my first holiday destination choice if I could choose to go any where in the world. It's not because I don't like the place but mainly because of my poor Mandarin. I can speak the language (studied it for more than 10 years, duh) but due to my English-speaking background, I'm not that proficient.
So, I was initially sceptical when my aunt said that she was going to Taiwan and asked if I wanted to come. Perhaps I was guilty of having some not-too-spectacular assumptions of the country but most of it stemmed from my fear of being reminded of my language handicap.
I really wish I can speak Mandarin properly, fluently, without having to ask people for help time and again. Yes, I hate Mandarin classes in school but only because I really struggled. The strokes and idioms always confuse me. Try as I might, I couldn't fanthom the language and grasp it strong. Fast forward to today, and post-Taiwan, I'm very very eager to give it another shot and work on it. I will make an effort to check the dictionary when needed and ask. One should appreciate one's heritage, no? Or maybe I should just pick up Malay from my Dad yes? Hmmm I think I should handle my Mandarin first.
Ooops, okay, this is a food blog! Sorry for digressing, but I got to warn you that my Taiwan posts won't always be about food. Hope you don't mind! The trip was more of a travel and scenic trip than a foodhunt. Not that I didn't hunt for food, no no. I did! haha... but that wasn't my priority :) I mean, when you're in a place that's so beautiful, food takes a backseat.
Soooo.... yes, this post is about Taroko Marble Gorge. Okay actually Taroko is a national park and the marble gorge is one of the main attractions. You heard right. This is where pure marble comes from, after being cultivated for thousands and millions of years. People harvest them to make furniture, tiles, sculptures. The marble's really really beautiful and you'll see why:
Isn't it gorgeous? My mouth was agape most of the time. It was beyond magnificient and beyond spectacular. If you think the photos look amazing, wait till you look at the gorge in person. I was blown away. Lovely lovely stuff.
You know how much I love adventure right? So you won't be surprised if I crossed a suspension bridge. Well not that it was a flimsy bridge (which would have made it more exciting eh!) - it was actually rather strong and safe. But heh, it was uber cool.
Yea, a mandatory shot before crossing the bridge.
And another two, taken on the bridge:
Realised then, that I love bridges and the thrills of crossing one that's so high. Haha, sadist much! No no, I just like adventure :) Yea, I have a secret fantasy of being a female Indiana Jones. So sue me ;p
Here's a pagoda that we climbed:
It was pretty high. Climbing the steep stairs were tiring, but worth it.
We went on a few trails that day. My favourite one was the 砂卡礑 (Shakatang) trail. We also went to 燕子口 (Swallow Grotto), 布洛湾(Buluowan) village, 绿水合流 (Lu Shui He Liu - some river/stream), and 九曲洞 (Tunnel of Nine Turns).
Check out the photos:
Love the stream. The water's crystal clear. And that was a good thing because I fell in. Yep, klutzy me fell into a shallow stream. Well I slipped actually. One of the rocks was too slippery. So before I knew it, I dived. Haha. It was rather hilarious actually. My cousin and sister (they were there when it happened) had a hearty laugh!
Here's me and my cousing krystle, all smiles. Me, very much refreshed and clean now.
Okay since this is after all a food blog, here are some food photos. Not alot but hopefully enough to not have you complaining that I didn't post enough food shots :D
That's bamboo and they fill it with glutinous rice, steam it and we just buy it by the stick, break it and eat it from there. Very yummy actually.
Did I mention how we all fell in love with Taiwan's instant noodles? They are amazing! Seriously. Trust me when I say that. I was never a fan of instant noodles but I became one in no time when I went there. Their instant noodles taste really good and they have actual real meat. Let me explain. In the bowl, there's a seperate retort bag that they include and you have to open it after its warmed up in a bowl of hot water and add it to the cooked instant noodles. Here's what I mean:
That's beef noodles and that's beef tendon if you're wondering. One bowl like that costs about $2 SGD which is rather reasonable I think.
If only they had stuff like this here. Damn, I really miss Taiwan right now. Not just their instant noodles. Or their ferns:
Yea, their ferns are good, green and delicious. That's my stash. I was a farmer for a day and went through the fields collecting ferns. hahaha.
I think it belonged to the natives. It was by the road and I nearly ran off with it. That was until I remembered that they can actually run after me and hunt me down!
So there you go, part 2. And there's more, much much more to come. But once again, I seek your patience!
Here's a really scenic mountainous parting shot: