It is 12 hours later here in Taiwan. The no sleep for 72 hours in the beginning of the trip screwed us up so bad we didn't know day from night anyway!
I was up before Chuni this morning!!! Of course, I flopped into bed exhausted at 8 pm while she and Michael went to dinner, shopped and "worked off 1000 calories on the treadmill", then came back and answered emails till late. Still, I'm proud I got up 15 minutes earlier. And still, no Beetlenuts.
Today we cruised the east coast, the only area in Taiwan really undeveloped. We are in an area of small aboriginal communities. Christian in this area, though the vast majority of Taiwanese are Buddhist or Taoist (something like 98 per cent).
We went for miles on narrow winding roads along the majestic east coast. (The biology teacher from Virginia offered everyone anti-nausea medication, but we're a tough crowd using the dumpling and mochi remedy and we pass.) Towering cliffs and erosion forming amazing rock formations. We stopped in Siaoyeliou, Sansientai, Stone Steps, and Caves of the Eight Immortals, a marble factory and Taroko National Park. (I just copied that from the itinerary as I can't remember any of these things. Those of you who are reading this for cultural, geographical or historical accuracy would do better with Wikipedia!) I do continue to get to know the really nice people on our bus, even though I'm a little paranoid that the no deodorant thing isn't working for me...
The family in family in front of us is from San Francisco. Mom, Dad, and 20 something Son and Daughter and the most adorable Grandpa in the world -Henry Tom. He is always smiling from ear to ear. You have to smile if you're looking at him! I am intrigued with him and have included a picture of him and his grandson.
There are 2 sweet young sisters from Australia. Alice is a pharmacist and Mary Ann is studying to be one. We bond when Mary Ann saves us from totally going the wrong direction getting back to the bus. Thank God for the women from the Phillipines who are ALWAYS the last on the bus. They make us (late but not last) look good. Chuni lost her watch the first day if the trip and that's a bit of a problem. I have one but get distracted and don't remember to look at it do we are often busting butt running in 98 degree weather to get back to the bus. Not good but does burn calories...I am amazed Chuni has not purchased 42 new watches..
We learn from our guide, Alan, that some of the aboriginal tribes like to "tip the sauce" and that millet wine is their drink of choice. Aaahh, a new vice to possibly corrupt Chuni and Michael since we're not on the fast track to Beetlenuts. I wonder if it will be hard to find alcohol in a National Park?? If so, will I get Chuni and Michael to try it? They have told me that some Asians have almost a flushing allergic reaction to alcohol. Hmmm. I think I'd rather stink and be able to drink...
Check out the pictures and see...
The scenery all day is amazing. Like a tropical Yellowstone with an ocean. Again, no one ever in the water! Lunch is in Hualien. We want to shop so just get steamed buns (for OUR steamed buns) and mango juice to go and slip into the air conditioned McDonald's to eat them. So good. (The no wheat, dairy, sugar thing is not working out so well here, either.) We hit the famous aboriginal (Amis) mochi shop. Chuni buys tons of stuff and I buy a bag each for Hannah and Noah. Mochi is gooey millet or rice dough filled with red or green bean paste or other goodies.
Michael is buried under packages in the back of the bus at this point. My only purchase is the mochi and a $6 shell bead necklace. The rest is Chuni's and it's mostly food (except the shoes and the little baubles she got at the marble, jade factory showroom after she told me she wasn't buying anything since her mother buys all that stuff)..The currency here is called NTD for New Taiwan Dollars. About 30 of them to 1 US dollar, so the price tags look high on everything, but it's really a good deal.
We end our day staying in a beautiful hotel right in Taroko National Park. Chuni says she's skipping dinner because she's too full from snacking, but eats a bowl of noodles the size of her head. (She says it's just a snack.) We sip a little something :-). I wake Chuni up from her alcohol induced nap to go to the roof to hear a young man from the Bunong tribe sing lovely folk songs.
Weather report says a typhoon heading in tomorrow for the last day of our bus tour. Can't wait to see what that adventure will be on these narrow mountain roads!!