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I was left alone for a while, so I did some writing and then went for a walk. The weather being nice, I took the camera instead of the running shoes and headed along a walking path by a river. The sky was blue and inviting. In time, the temperature reached 72 degrees, which made walking with a pack a little warm. I snapped shots whenever I could. I sensed a great deal of familiarity in a land half a world away.
Overall, the river walk was pleasant, but there aren't many scenic photo opportunities in a big city. As people would pass by, I would look at them and smile, some offered no response, while others smiled back. It's pretty much what I find anywhere and everywhere.
Coming back, I found smaller streets where there was often little or no sidewalk. With the latter, you are forced into the streets, which requires being highly aware of traffic--cars, and scooters. Interestingly, there aren't many bicycles here.
In time, I was pretty much guessing if I was heading the right way home, so I checked the iPhone maps to verify.
I was not.
Luckily the Map App helped me gauge the right direction and I was soon back on the river path. I arrived home just when Lesly and the kids were too.
At that point, I took a much needed shower. This was very relaxing. Lesly had picked up some food, which tasted great (almost all the food would follow suit). I believe it was a Chinese pizza (no relation to Italian pizza) and some beef soup/broth. Both were delicious. So far, I've enjoyed most of the foods.
We headed out to the Chiang Kai-shek museum, home, and gardens. It was a short ways off and the landscape quickly changed--suddenly it's green and tropical. It's a land of continual contrasts. Walk the path up into the hills a little and you instantly find yourself in what could be a scene from LOST or Jurassic Park.
The rose gardens were nice, though not spectacular. I think that's due to what time of year it is. There were some fascinating gazebos. We may be farther to the south, but it's still winter in Taiwan. Overall, it's fairly cool and coats are sometimes needed, but it's never freezing. And that suits me just fine.
Coming back, we stopped at a tea shop (tea is popular here!) and got some ginger tea. It was nice to have a hot drink. While I do love coffee more than tea, tea is sometimes a nice change.
We also had stopped at a 7/11 for some cash. I needed to withdraw some cash in the local currency. Almost all transactions here are done with cash. The only plastic I needed to bring was the ATM card. The exchange is about 1 USD to 30 TWD. Thus, you need to so some math. For me, I divide the total by 10 (simply jettison the last zero) and then by 3. It works pretty well.
At night, we all walked down to a bus stop and took the bus up the avenue. Like some other big cities, they have a bus/train card here that works for both. It's a proximity card which you prepay. Just swipe it in front of the receiver and you're done. It's fast and convenient.
We had dinner at a very nice place, which specializes in little treats that resemble pot stickers. Overall, the meal was very nice. The service was fast and friendly; though since it's such a popular spot, you feel guilty staying once the eating is done. The staff is definitely on the cute side. They're very particular about their hiring here, I must say.
Once dinner was done, we traveled over to a mall and entered a food shop. It contained many items brought over from France, meaning you could get the specialty foods you really crave.
We returned home, and then Terry and I headed over to the Night Market area. It's a crowded area with shops and food stands jam packed down each lane. Again, the smells are quite prominent. As well, it's very colorful. And the women are pretty.
The massage shop was next on the list. They have different options, but we selected the upper body massage. The price was about \$15 (USD) for 30 minutes. I was somewhat concerned about the pain, for I'd heard stories of guys(!) screaming in pain. Plus, I was watching a group of men getting a foot massage and each seemed to be writhing in pain. It was like watching a torture take place. I feel enough torture just paying my taxes.
Well...it went fine. There was one small problem though: you see my sides are very sensitive to tickling. Whenever someone offers to give me one, I have to tell her to go easy on the sides, or to avoid them entirely. It's just a weakness, like kryptonite, except it makes me laugh instead of die. What's worse, I don't know.
For the most part, I handled it well. She asked about going harder (Terry translated). I said things were fine as they were. No use being one of those screamers that people joked about later. The sides held up, but with a lot of focus and concentration. I'd never last in a POW camp where they broke the rules of the Geneva Convention and tickled their prisoners.
The half hour passed too fast. Despite a few sensitive moments, it felt great and was very relaxing. We exited and explored the market more. I tried some strawberries dipped in a candy coating skewered on a stick. They were good, but difficult to eat.
Taking a taxi, we headed down to a popular bar called Carnegie. Well, maybe "popular" isn't the right word since hardly anyone was in there. I guess Tuesday nights aren't the popular time of the week. They had Guinness on tap, but only sold in pints, and I just needed a half a pint. I tried some other beer, which was pretty poor. It was way too fruity in taste. While I don't care for wheat beers too much, the fruity ones are even worse. I think I'll just stick with Guinness.
We took the train home, but it was a long journey with all the transfers. The taxi is often the best way to go here, since it's so cheap. Everything here is pretty inexpensive. That's one great thing about the city.
Back home, I wanted to write, but was way too exhausted. My feet were sore, and I was dead tired. I was asleep in no time.