Saturday, August 20, 2005

A fun-filled week for me, which is why nothing was written earlier

On Monday after class Hiyoshi and I headed to the Yong He area for some lunch. We got off at Ding Xi station and worked our way to the shui jiao/guo tie shop, where we had a very satisfying meal of guo tie, xiao long bao, and dou jiang. Then we explored the little back alley market for awhile, and then discovered a shop that sold really nice Japanese-made T-shirts for dirt cheap (like less than $5 each), so we bought some Goddess Surf Team ones. After our purchase we wandered around the not-yet-open night market, where I spotted this "shuai" guy advertising men's fashions. Too funny :)

We both wanted to check out the night market, so we found the nearest Dante Coffee and sat sipping and chatting until it was time for the shops to open. I really enjoyed this market, lots of cheap clothing and great food, including some way cheap xue hua bing (only $25NT! less than $1.00US!). Got to see my first civet cat for sale at a small pet store. Darned thing tried to bite me. Had to head home early Monday for a lesson with Guoxi, so parted company with my faithful friend around 5:30 p.m. By the time Guoxi left on Monday, it was almost 10:00, so no journal entry.

Tuesday afternoon I asked Hiyoshi to go with me to Xinbeitou because I'd been reading about the area in a magazine & wanted to check out some of the parks. We checked the station map when we got there and headed in the direction of the one park that looked interesting, stopping to eat some "mian xian" at a little restaurant. Dang, it was good. Mian xian, called "e ah mi sua" in Taiwanese (that's the closest I can get to spelling it, sorry, and there's no way to write the nasal sound you have to make when you say it) is thread-fine noodles in a broth with tiny oysters and some other stuff. Yummy yummy - and cheap, only $35NT. Fortified by food, we continued.

And continued. And continued. By this time I was pretty sure we'd missed the park, but we kept going and found a large Buddhist temple that we checked out. It was very quiet, hardly anyone around, so we spent a little time "bai bai-ing" and then headed off again. We saw what looked like a park up ahead, crossed the street, and discovered a flood-control sluice that ran up the mountainside, with a funky imitation bamboo railing, paited an bright green. Since there was a pathway, we decided to check it out. Keep in mind that I'm carrying a backpack filled with two dictionaries, one school textbook, a notebook, some folders with papers, an umbrella, and the miscellaneous odds & ends that a girl just can't leave home without. And it was hot, full sun, no shade. By the time we reached the first set of stairs (the first of many), I was ready to toss Hiyoshi into the sluice, since he was the one who actually suggested we climb. And the stinker wouldn't even carry my backpack.

No matter, we climbed. Finally reached a spot where we could go either left or right, saw a sign indicated temples in both directions, and picked the right hand side first, since the left had a very steep set of stairs going up, while the right had a more gentle incline. We found a very small, very charming temple that had some relatively fresh water we could use to cool off (but not drink, and I did not have the foresight to bring water with me, dammit). More bai-bai at this temple, then back down to check out the other one.

Man, it was rough going up that last hill. I opted for the road since the steps were very shallow and it just seemed easier to hike the road. By the time we reached the top, I was soaked with sweat head to foot and my poor heart was letting me know just how out of shape I am. But it was worth the climb, because the view was fabulous. All I had with me was the phone camera, but I got a few shots you can check out by clicking the link. I plan to go back here again, and next time I'll leave the backpack at home and take the digital camera!

The walk back down was much nicer, and we found a very cool park halfway down the mountainside, but we were so thirsty we didn't stop to play. Water was all I could think about at this point. The first 7-11 we found we bought water for our tortured throats and we did find the park that was our original destination on the way back. We didn't realize the children's playground we had seen was the entrance to the park. Nice place, with some very fun exercise equipment to play on, must go back again one day and act the child ;)

I was so exhausted by my day that I went to bed at 9:30 p.m., after sitting on the couch trying to stay awake enough to read my book. No journal entry.

Wednesday I went with Guoxi and his English class on an outing to the bowling alley. Whoa, fun, hadn't been bowling for over a year! I did much better than I expected, too, and bowling with a passle of youngsters was a blast. Most of Guoxi's classmates are in their early 20's, with Guoxi and two others being a bit older. I got to be team captain once, too, yeah! Next week I think Kieko and Hiyoshi and I are going to go give it a try.

After bowling, Guoxi took me to the pet store so I could buy a kitty tower for DZ to play on (too big to try to carry on the MRT), then I tagged along with him while he fed a friend's dogs. Was too lazy to write anything when I got home :)

Thursday afternoon was kinda regular, just spent some time at the library with Hiyoshi, studying for the test we had yesterday, then just wandering around, having our usual Dante Coffee break. Met up with Guoxi and some of his friends for dinner at a hot pot place, drank lots of beer and had lots of fun. As usual, the Taiwanese friends ate way more than I did, still can't figure out how they do that and still stay thin. Went back to Guoxi's friends' guitar shop and saw this cute little amplifier made from a teakettle. Isn't it cute?

Another late arrival at home, somewhere close to 10:30 p.m. Had to listen to DZ scolding me for leaving her alone so much. Didn't even bother to turn on the computer before I went to bed.

Yesterday I had planned to just come home after school, but Hiyoshi invited me to go with him to his Taiwan friends' home. He goes there every Wednesday and Friday to teach Japanese, and he assured me I'd be welcomed. Boy howdy, was I! Great family, mom, dad, son, and daughter. Not that the son and daughter had anything to say....typical 20-somethings, too involved in their own things to care who's visiting....but the mom, Sherri, was great. Dad (didn't get his name) was busy working (their home is also their office), but I did discover he's a big fan of rock & roll. After Sherri, Hiyoshi, and I had chatted for awhile and eaten some pizza and zong zi, Sherri fired up the karaoke machine so we could sing some Wu Bai songs. After we ran out of Wu Bai songs, and after Hiyoshi and Sherri sang a few Japanese songs, we started on English ones. There were times when I was laughing to much to sing, and times that songs were making me cry (Puff, the Magic Dragon does it to me every time). Then Sherri dragged out all the concert DVDs they have, and I couldn't believe how many! We watched a bit of Heart on tour, Dream Theater, Journey (oh man, I used to love them so much, and their new singer sounds *exactly* like Steve Perry, but doesn't look as good), some special in England with tons of bands.

We'd been drinking tea, but somewhere in the middle of all this Sherri brought out a large bottle of sake, which Hiyoshi and I managed to polish off, with only a little of it going into Sherri's tummy. Hiyoshi is quite funny when he drinks, because his face turns bright red. Someday I'm going to see what tequila will do to him...... One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. What, me, evil? Who says? I deny it!

And here it is, almost 1:30 p.m. on Saturday (and I've spent an hour writing this entry), and I'm still in my jammies, because I stayed up until almost 1:00 a.m. and got up late today. Gotta get dressed soon and head out to buy more gas, because my bottle is now empty. Tried to boil some water this morning, and the flames went "phhht" after about a minute. This bottle has lasted since May 8, so that's pretty good.

Here's hoping next week will be just as much fun as this one. Oh, did I mention how much I love not having a job? ;)

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