Tuesday, August 17, 2010

26th Anniversary

A certain very hot place is getting lots of new roads as I "intend" to post fairly often. We're coming up to October break (first day of holidays) and I've been pitifully bad, but going to get better.

The one other major event that I failed to write about previously, which actually occurs before Penghu, is our 26th anniversary weekend getaway to Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan's most popular and beloved tourist attraction. It's Taiwan's largest body of fresh water, and apparently is actually 2 joined lakes, one which looks like the moon and the other like......YES the Sun. Looked like one big lake to me though, especially when we rode 35 km around it, but more of that later.

We debated, before going, whether to book something or just go and hope to find something. We decided to be adventurous, and it paid off. We walked into a cute little place (Taiwan cute which is very different from BC cute), and they offered us a lakeview room with breakfast for 2800 NT (about 90 bucks) but then knocked it down to 2200 for not apparent reason, because we'd already said we'd take it. It was small but super nice and was on the 8th floor looking over the lake and the night promenade lighted walk thingy.

We walked around a bit and got our bearings and then decided to go for a little bike ride.....now comes that music where you know something unplanned is going to happen. We rented bikes (went for the good ones, at 200 NT (6 bucks) instead of the cheapies, because we knew the lake was 35 km around and who knew how far we were going to go.

Now, two things about the road. First, there are about 10 temples around the lake and huge tour busses go round and round the lake taking interested visitors to each one. Fair enough as long as your little mountain bike doesn't get squashed by said huge bus. The second thing, however, is that, in order to be closer to the gods, the temples are all at the tops of hills, but the drive is a lakeshore drive, so the nice little road around the lake is an up and down grind like you've never seen. The third thing, even though I only said 2, is that Janice has a phobia about back tracking, so, no matter how tired we were after 10 km of hills, there was no way we were going to turn around.....we were going the whole way around.

One interesting detour we took was about halfway around. There is an aboriginal village on the other side of the lake from where we were staying, which we were going to take a boat to the next day. It was quite nice and the scenery was beautiful, but more than that, it had a huge gondola....that's right, I said gondola. Apparently, there's another aboriginal village and theme park (roller coasters etc) on the other side of this mountain, so they built a skyride to help get you there. The gondolas are brand new and remind me of the new peak to peak gondolas at Whistler, but maybe without the Canadian Safety Inspection stickers. But, we're in God's hands here so we jumped on for the ride. Holy smokes, it was super high. This one valley we went across was about 2/3 the peak to peak distance and pretty much as high but truly beautiful (and Janice would agree if she'd opened her eyes).

We were pretty well rested by the time we got back from the ride (we only took it over and back. We're saving the amusement park for when the Chapmans come) and then continued around the lake.

The one part we were really looking forward to getting to was this no cars, paved bike trail which was about 5 km long and apparently pretty nice. What it was in fact, was 5 km of stairs (up and down) and a dead end, with no apparent route out. As we looked around in desperation and exhaustion, we came across the one thing we had both hoped we might find....a group of teenaged olympic canoeists at a ramshackle training camp. The bad news was that they spoke no English. The good news was that, having fingers like us, they were able to point us towards town. Funny how the gesture for "that way" is the same in many languages....it's not, however, in German, but that's a story for another day.

We finally got back to the bike shop, tired but feeling accomplished, and after looking through the shop owner's photo album of his trip to Vancouver, we headed out to find some dinner. We adventurously tried a local Chinese place and it was fine, though not totally recognizable.

The next morning (sorry, not evening details) we went for the included breakfast and found the traditional Congee (rice porridge) with various pickled things and shredded spicy meat stuff, so turned around and ran for Starbucks. We then bought tickets for the tour boats that run on the lake (dozens of big, diesel boats that carry about 100 people each) and toured around for a bit, stopping longest back at the aboriginal village we had been to the day before. It was really pretty and had some really cool floating gardens, but there was also a bit of an obsession with carvings of male genitalia, some as big as lawn mowers (why lawnmowers???) I'm sure Karen will be anxious to see that....from a strictly medical perspective of course.

That was pretty much it. We had a great drive home and it was a perfect anniversary.


  1. ummmm yeah can't wait to go there....
    Happy Anniversary.
    Can Todd and I get a picture beside the Love River? Looking forward to that!
    Hi to Makena and Isaac.

  2. Nice post. That was some pretty fun reading! What's wrong with a big lawn mower in the garden? I love hearing about your adventures. Can you write some boring day-to-day stuff?