It’s time for a new post. Time is just flying by over here. We just wrapped up our first semester of teaching and are officially on our Chinese New Year break. YAY! It’s going to be so nice to have some time off of school to travel and make our way back to good ol’ GR for a couple of weeks.
So tomorrow, my brother and sister head home after two weeks in Thailand and two weeks with us in Taipei. It’s been a blast showing them around Taipei! Jordy and Brittni had two full weeks here so we were able to add a few more places to see on our “visitors itinerary.”
One of Jordy’s top things to do in Taiwan was to get out to the mountains and waterfalls outside of Taipei. I’ve said it before, but Taiwan really has some amazing natural wonders to see. It’s a hikers paradise and there are countless trails to explore. Jordy wanted to checkout three waterfalls known as the Sandiaoling waterfalls near Pingxi. We hopped on the train to the tiny town of Sandiaoling and caught the trailhead. It was a great hike. It wasn’t insanely strenuous but had some areas that kept it interesting. There were a few rope climbs, branch ladders, and slippery trails that kept us on our feet. The three waterfalls were amazing and we were even able to climb along a cave to get behind one of them. We ended the day in the small town of Pingxi which is home to the world famous lantern festival. As Chinese New Year is right around the corner, the town was full of people writing their wishes and goals on the large lanterns and letting them fly off into the sky. Perfect way to spend the day.
Have you ever seen Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover: Taipei? If you haven’t, you should watch it. Anyways, Anthony visited some very far-out restaurants that Jordy and Brittni wanted to visit. The first restaurant wasn’t as far-out as the second, but the theme of the first restaurant was school buses. The restaurant served traditional Taiwanese food, but we got to sit and eat in old school buses.
The second restaurant was strange. Brittni had been wanting to go this restaurant ever since she heard of it. Modern Toilet….a restaurant dedicated to toilets and poop. You also got to pick..the traditional toilet bowl or the Taiwanese style squatty potty. I went for chicken curry in the traditional toilet bowl, while we all ate our poop desert served in squatty potties!
Our last discovery came yesterday. One of the top things to do in Taipei is climb Elephant Mountain to get a jaw-dropping panorama of Taipei. It’s a must-see, but it’s always stuffed with people. It’s hard to get a good view without someone’s head or a tripod blocking the view. We decided to try and find the trail to Tiger Mountain. The trail started at a beautiful Chinese temple and climbed upwards along the Tiger Mountain crest. The trail opened up to an absolutely stunning panorama of Taipei. Best thing about it? Not a soul was there. Now, yesterday was sunny and 70 degrees on a Saturday…you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day to hike and get a view of the 101. It was early so we kept on hiking along the trail and it eventually ended at Elephant Mountain. Just as we thought, it was packed. We promptly turned around and headed back to the Tiger Mountain view point. We were able to watch the sunset and see the city lights come to life all by ourselves!
The rest of the week was spent showing them our favorite spots such as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Shilin night market, and of our course introducing them to our family at the Neihu night market. It’s so hard to just eat and leave at our night market, especially on the weekends. All of our buddies are hanging out and who wouldn’t want to meet the blonde haired foreigners? We ended that night with the Taiwanese guys inviting us out for KTV, or karaoke. Oh boy. KTV has been on my bucket list since we arrived in Taiwan, but I knew it could get rowdy. We sang our hearts out until 5am with the local Taiwanese guys and it was so much fun 🙂
It was a great few weeks having my brother and sister here. We really get to spend quality time with our families when they visit and we’re very thankful for these opportunities. Luckily for Sarah and me, we’ll be home soon! We take off for Cambodia for a few days, then we’re homeward bound. Looking forward to the next few weeks!
Kyle and Sarah