2 weeks late…I know. Good thing we have a really good excuse. We had a fantastic week last week! After 3 months of Sarah and I hanging out all by ourselves, everyday, every minute….every second, we finally got some visitors! Don’t get me wrong, Sarah and I love hanging out together, but it was nice to have some others around 🙂 Sarah’s sister Abby, brother Matt, and sister-in-law Lara, made the long trip from Michigan to Taipei, Taiwan to visit us!
They landed on Tuesday night at Taoyuan International airport. I picked them up from the airport as the taxi drivers never know how to get to our apartment. Granted, we do live on a tiny, hidden street, the taxi drivers just never know how to get our place. Landing in a completely foreign country after 24 hours of travel and getting lost in an enormous city isn’t on anyone’s top list of fun things to do. Well, we made it back fine and started the week off with a family-style Chinese meal at one of our favorite restaurants. The Brower clan did very well with the chopsticks, but were a tad apprehensive about the food. Great start to a very fun-filled week!
The first full day consisted of showing the family the ins and outs of daily life for us in our slice of Taipei. We started the day with one of the most popular drinks in Taiwan and staple for any visit to the country, bubble milk tea. Sarah and I could drink this everyday, but apparently it’s a bit of an acquired taste as the Brower’s were a little weirded out by the bubbles. We visited our local day market, parks, and lakes around our area. Abby was even able to experience the SQUATTY POTTY! Definitely need to have good aim. It was a very nice introduction to a very unfamiliar country for our visitors.
The next few days were spent from riding the famous Gondola up to Tea Mountain to taste the different teas (Lara’s favorite!), to learning about Chiang Kai Shek’s leadership at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. The girls also shopped to their hearts desires at the clothing market and we savored the legendary snacks at Shilin Night Market.
Taiwan’s number one tourist attraction is Taroko Gorge. It is a beautiful George. It’s an incredible scenic 2.5 hour train ride through mountains and hills the eastern side of Taiwan. Taroko Gorge offers stunning views of the Liwu river that cuts through the marble rock of the gorge. The trails are plentiful, and views are abundant. As I always say, Taiwan has some of the best natural beauty in the whole world…as you can tell by the following photos!
Instead of staying in a hostel near Taroko Gorge, we decided to stay in a second tier city in Taiwan called Hualien. I love the smaller cities. They have such a different/foreign feel to them. After a full day of hiking and sightseeing, we were ready to get to our hostel. Matt booked a great hostel called the Secret Base. Sounded sketchy, but we couldn’t pass up a room with 3 big beds all lined up!
We had fun exploring Hualien, although I’ve come to notice the Brower’s develop hangriness. A new word I invented.. when someone gets so hungry that they get angry. Watch out. Everyone wanted a break from Chinese food, but no one wanted to admit it, so everyone was getting hangrier and hangrier. Luckily, we found a decent place to eat that satisfied everyone’s hangriness!
Friday night couldn’t have been spent any other way….with our local night market buddies. As you’ve read from previous posts, we’ve become very good friends with the people at our night market. Matt, Lara, and Abby needed to experience the Taiwanese hospitality. Let’s just say we ate some very strange food that night. You can’t push it away either, because every time you turn around a new plate is put in front of you and everyone wants to see you eat their dish! We ate everything from clams, snails, and dumplings to peanut rolls, fried squid, and oyster pie. Have you ever had that feeling in your throat where you’re about to throw up? Your cheeks expand and you start to heave a little? Yea, the oyster cakes were not good.
As a lesson learned from 2 weeks prior, I warned everyone to stay away from the Taiwanese liquor. Everyone agreed that that was a good idea, but we slowly watched everyone else get a little friendlier and friendlier. By the end of the night, we had given everyone an English name and we were getting kissed from literally every single person! It was definitely the most memorable night for us…you never know what’s going to happen at the good ol’ night market. 🙂
It was such a fun week having the Brower’s in Taipei. We laughed our butt’s off, tried betel nut with the locals, and even got the crap scared out of us by an earthquake! It was a super busy week, but there was so much to see! I’m sure we’ll be reminiscing about this trip for the next 50 years 🙂