Friday, June 29, 2012

Shangri-la and Monkeys!!!!

I'm putting some pix up now. Explanation later! 8 a.m Friday. The typhoon is veering off towards Hong Kong. Good luck Leigh and Chi!

It is now 10:15 Saturday morning. Yesterday was another amazing day. It was the final day of our around the island bus tour. Chuni and I got up early and took a mountain trail near our hotel. After we climbed a million stairs, it looked like we were in Shangri-la...Buddhist temples, statues of Buddha imbedded in lush mountainsides, all shrouded in early morning mist. The pictures so not do it justice. Nirvana. Except we have to rush through it and run down the millions of stairs so we can shower (ESSENTIAL) and make it to the BUFFET breakfast before we have to board the bus. (The only reason we are not always the last people on the bus is that the 2 little ladies from the Phillipines are even more time challenged and usually keep us all waiting 10-15 minutes. As much as we grumble about them in our "back of the bus" little community, I secretly am thankful that they provide this buffer for us. I told our BOB (back of bus) that I was going to take the late ladies picture and put it on this blog. Can you guess which ones they are? I wish I could label individual pictures. I'd someone knows how, tell me in the comment section!)

On the way back from our walk, I see the tree branches shaking. This is no bird. I look more closely and see MONKEYS!!!! I love monkeys and have not seen them in the wild except on Monkey Beach in St. Kitts stealing French fries from the tourists in the snack bar and not sure that counts. Chuni and I were VERY excited!! There were 3 of them and each one of them took the time to check US out and pose for pictures.

Of course, that diversion left us only a few minutes to whip our way through the buffet. We are developing a pattern. I try to eat nothing I can get at home. I start healthy with only fruit, then veggies, and by the end I am stuffing pork filled steamed buns in my face. Michael hits the pancakes, eggs, and different kinds of pork fat first, then goes into his Taiwanese favorites if he has room. Fruit is the last resort. Veggies not an option. Chuni does a nice combo of each. Numerous plates full.

We jump on the bus at the last second but the PL (Phillapines ladies) do not disappoint. They are 15 minutes late. The BOB start grumbling and we join in. Bryan from Honolulu leads us in giving them a standing ovation when they get on the bus. The PL seem to love it and are unfazed.

We have the most packages on the bus. Mostly unique to Taiwan snack foods Chuni has been collecting so we don't starve in between our buffet breakfast and a lunch stop two hours later. The BOB crowd is very tolerant of us. We have become a family. Thank God, Michael is stuck on the bench seat in the very back of the bus and has extra room. He is buried in packages of snack foods. We do share. We are so far back in the bus, we do not have any overhead space. We have spread out to take the overhead space of the Jew family from San Francisco in front of us. Yes, J-E-W is their last name. Yes, being a mature world traveller, I did giggle when they told me. I may have gone a little over the limit of even their tolerance, when I delicately balanced the halved fresh coconut tenuously above Jordan Jew's head. I was praying it would not give him a concussion if it fell during one of the numerous hairpin turns...I have included a photo of the BOB. My seat is next to Chuni second row from back.

On our last tour day, we did gorgeous hikes in the Toroko National Park. The rockslides have been so bad due to earthquakes that we had to wear helmets. The roads are so narrow, 2 vehicles can not pass and there a lot of close calls. We hiked along gorges, on tiny suspension bridges and behind water falls. My flashlight app came in handy in a long, dark cave tunnel. Thank you Alan Trembley. I sometimes make strange exotic animal noises to startle my fellow travelers on the hikes and touch the back of their necks with little weeds do they think a bug is crawling on them. Some of them think it is funny. I have them convinced that everything is poisonous. Maybe it is. To make up for my bad behavior I share the rest if my bottle of my aboriginal millet wine during lunch. Most of the Asians, including the guide, start turning red. I hope I have Not committed yet another blunder. I don't give any to the driver...

Our last stop before returning back to Taipei was a famous biscuit factory. One more huge shopping bag for the bus. And how are we going to get this stuff back to NJ??!! We are only 6 days into the trip.

My iPhone battery is usually dead by 3 pm, so I can't take pix or blog till I recharge in the evening. Bummer.

We got back to Chuni's cousin Vicky's apartment around 6 pm. She had made hair appointments for us. Chuni wanted her haircut before her college reunion Saturday. I purposely did not get my haircut before we left, so I could just pull it up off of my neck for the whole trip. Just shower and go and not worry about blow drying or anything else. My hair and high humidity and heat do not do well. Vicky brings us a couple of blocks away to her hairdressers. They are known for giving complete massages to your scalp, neck and shoulders hetr. They also do various hot oil treatments involving steaming towels and other paraphanalia that looks like it is from outer space. I don't understand a word anyone is saying, but a young Japanese woman is starting to work knots out of my shoulders. It hurts like hell, but I don't want to offend her. I am washed, conditions, hot oil treated, massaged and Chuni says they are asking me how I would like my hair styled. I really want Chuni's hair which is thick, shiny and course. Mine is fine and thin. The best it will do is lay flat on my head in high humidity. The hairdresser starts thinning Chuni's hair out and shaping it into a darling little bob. She thinned out more from her hair then I have on my entire head. It's my turn. They start to blow dry it, but it is already dried on its own. She starts crimping, hot iron curling, gelling, and spraying. Chuni and I are laughing at each other, but neither has a camera that works at this point. I take a picture after I get home of both of us. What do you think? I'm thinking this is too dangerous for me to try at home. My total bill is US $10.

Vicky and her family take us out to a Korean barbecue place around 9:30. I'm dying to clip my hair up off of my neck, but don't dare. We cook pork, beef, oysters, vegetables, fish, liver And various other exotic foods on the little barbecue grill in the middle of our table. This goes on for hours and hours. Chuni, Michael, Nelson and I need to take a walk around the block we are so full. When we return, Vicky and her mother have ordered many more plates full to be cooked. Chuni says it is tradition for hosts to treat their guests in this manner. I want to be polite, but cannot eat another bite. One more oyster is put on my plate and I manage to down that but beg not to be given more. Vicky says that it is ice cream time and ask me what flavor I would like. Chuni and Michael managed to eat theirs, and I was very impressed. They are not short hitters in the food department. I think all the sweating must keep people thin here, because they eat a LOT! I make a mental note to remain antiperspirant free....

Today we are going to a mini college reunion of Chuni's classmates at Pondarosa. This evening, Vicky and her family want to take us out to dinner again. This time it is a steakhouse. God help me. I cannot tell you how incredibly hospitable everyone is. I feel very welcomed. Afterwords, we will go to Chuni's sister in law's house to spend the night. I am sure she will have a lot of food waiting for us!!!


  1. Love the pictures! You managed to get them a little bigger I see, they look great!
    I want a massage and haircut for $10! I like the waves on yours, wish there was more pictures! Chuni's bob looks adorable too. This is one of the most scenic places I have ever seen! Beautiful!

    The same hairdo that Jane Fonda got probably cost her $1,000!
    Taruko Gorge is amazing, isn't it? The road was cut out from upright granite. Many people died during the construction of the road. Many of them were veterans that followed Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan. A sad part of Taiwanese history but left a remarkable landmark.