"Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience." ~ Francis Bacon
1.6.13 - 1.6.13
If I never smell stinky tofu again it will be too soon. And I still have four days left in Taiwan. Le sigh.
Today was a good day. I met a friend of a friend and her cousin and they showed me around a town called Wulai, it is famous for hot springs and an aboriginal tribe (I believe their name is Atayla but do not quote me on that...). It was beautiful! We walked through a busy street full of food vendors and ate, and ate, and ate some more. We then walked up this amazingly green road to look at a waterfall and see some of the aboriginal relics.
There was so much green everywhere! It was beyond beautiful. So much so there are not enough words in my vocabulary to accurately describe the joy I felt at being completely surrounded by picturesque scenery and things I though I would only ever see in magazines. The river was a striking green-blue and it contrasted so well with the deep green moss growing over all the rocks and trees. I saw my first ever "wild" banana and papaya trees. I could probably have stayed and stared for hours if I was by myself.
My two guides were amazing. Thank you KL for having a lot of international friends who are eager and willing to help out complete strangers. I would not have been able to find this place if I was going by myself. The bus ride was a bit crazy but worth it on many many levels. And it is always nicer to travel with people who speak the language of the place you are visiting. My Chinese is non-existent save what I gleaned from Ni Hao Kai-Lan, which is pretty much just, Ni hao... In other words not helpful at all. So having two Taiwanese people guiding you along was quite nice.
Which also means I tried food I would not normally have tried. The list of food I ate on my journey today: one hot spring egg (a soft boiled egg in some sort of sauce... it was interesting), Taiwanese style sausage, almond tea (which was so delicious I bought a huge container of it), bamboo rice (they cook the rice in a large bamboo shoot and it is seasoned with pepper, corn, garlic, shrimp, onions, and a lot of other things I did not know what they were, all delicious of course. Then to serve it they smash the bamboo so it is in two halves and you just dig right in. Pure genius.), and ten came the really interesting bits. Oyster Sting Noodles, stinky tofu, and duck blood.
My moto for foreign food is I will try anything once. Once was too much for stinky tofu and duck blood. The noodles were good but completely eclipsed by the other two. I want to rant and rave about how disgusting they were but it was not that they were disgusting (don't get me wrong they did not taste too swell) but it was more of the smell. They do not call it stinky tofu for nothing. I cannot even begin to describe the smell but it is awful. I was walking through the night market again and kept passing stalls that were serving stinky tofu and I was gagging the entire time. I do not understand how people can sit there and serve that! How do they keep their stomachs from rolling. I am nauseous just thinking about it. The duck blood was just slimy and the weirdest texture and tasted like the stinky tofu smelled... gag.
But it is all in the name of adventure! I am sure there will be plenty more experiences like the stinky tofu and duck blood on my travels.
After we left Wulai we walked around Xindian river and the Bitan bridge. It was the same surreal beauty as before but with a more modern cafe feel to it. It helped that the river was full of paddle boats. But I still felt like hobbits or elves were going to start hopping off the mountains. That would have been amazing and I am not sure I ever would leave Taiwan if I found either hobbits or elves.
It was a long day full of walking and looking but totally worth it. For now I am going to kick back and relax in my hostel with a book and tomorrow I am going to explore the Taipei Zoo and ride a gondola to see some tea plantations. I'm excited.
Until the next time!