It’s a cold weekend here in Tokyo, with the temp dropping down to 2 degrees celsius last couple of days. Perfect excuse for me to turn on the heater, sit in front of my PC and put the images together. Here is the day #2 (post #3) of my weekend trip to Taiwan!

It was a very warm weekend in Taipei. When I landed in the afternoon it was 28 degrees. It is a T-shirt n shorts kind of weather. The next morning was sunny again, I had a breakfast in the kitchen, watching many tourists that look like they are from the mainland China. How the hotel felt empty the night before. Weird.

Before getting on the train to head into town, I decided to have a walk about the area where I was staying. I had checked out of the hotel and decided to carry my backpack with 4-day clothing in it, rather than leaving it at the hotel and come back later before heading south with my friend.

Taipei - weekend morning

Taipei - weekend morning

A local temple was quiet, with only one auntie sitting under the tree next to me, and a gardener keeping the plants into perfect shape of ovals.

Taipei

In downtown now, the city streets were blocked off at places. I heard that the election for the city’s mayor is coming up on the weekend after, and there would be parades of parties and supporters happening later that day. I wonder Steve, my neighbour on the inbound flight, might be there.

Taipei

Taipei

Taipei

Taipei

Taipei - street

Taipei seems to be an interesting mix of the old and the new, the traditional and the trendy.

Time to sit down and meet my friend after ages. As I was having my coffee, I made a couple of new friends.

Taipei

Taipei - Kids at cafe

Taipei - Kids at cafe

HungWei used to perform his art on the street of Melbourne for some time. Part of this trip was about catching up with the old friend.

Double HungWei

Taipei

We’ll be doing our catch up out of town, down in the nature-filled town of Hualien. Lucky to us, we manage to get a ticket for the afternoon.

Got the tickets - HungWei

Taipei terminal

Taipei station on Sunday reminds me of the Lucky Plaza (was it?) in Singapore. All the maids and domestic migrant workers have a day off, and they come to a place in town centre to hang out.

Taipei terminal

and that’s a bit of me…

Taipei terminal

3 hours later, in separate cars (as we did not book in advance), we were in Hualien station. Here comes my man.

Hualien
HungWei told me the options are either buses or car rental. The car wasn’t expensive so I did not hesitate. Little did we know what consequences it leads us to…

Ironic how I get to drive a Focus for the second time after working closely with the Ford brand for a few years!

Hualien - car rental

And we’re off! First, to the small night market of the town for the meal! Oyster was not the best I’ve ever had, but prawns are all right! We did not try the spring roll but seeing the queue, it must be good.

Hualien - Night Market

Hualien - Night Market

Hualien - Night Market

Hualien - Night Market

Hualien - Night Market

This, we had! It is basically the same as fried doughnut. They have deep-fried toasts with pocket cut out, filled with the flavour of your choice. Mine? I had the pork kimchi!

Hualien - Night Market

And then, wash it down with some noodle soup – lamb slices seem to be the classic choice!

Hualien - Night Market

Then we were off. HungWei rang the guesthouse his friend told him about, and got the directions.

Hualien - lost on highway

We drove on the straight highway out of town, and got to the part of 11th km sign on the route 11, but no sign of guest houses but just farms and odd houses. He rang the people, they said somebody was out standing in front of a church waiting. We turned back to the church, nobody there. We made a few rounds, got into the side-road which was a dead-end at some property with pretty upset dogs barking at strangers in the night… We were pretty tired after almost an hour or so of searching and making rounds and rounds, and then, somebody else was on the phone, who helped us identify where WE were in relation to where we were headed, and we found out we were on the wrong road. As soon as we got on the correct route 11, and at the 11th km, we found a series of guest houses on the hill overlooking the sea, which was pitch black but we knew as we just crossed a bridge.

Would it have been a better choice if we took a bus? Maybe. But it would have given very limited mobility the next day (which did not become a problem in the end but). Driving, we had freedom, and lost quite a bit of time being lost on the road…

Hualien - guest house

We put our bags down, as they served the dinner at well past 11pm. Spirits were poured into jars and cups, fruits were passed around, and this local-favourite nuts were on the side after the meal, too.

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

The open-terrace overlooks the cliff to the sea. If it were not rocky, it would have been perfect for a swim. Waves break, and crickets are singing. Stars are plenty spread across the sky. What a place!

This is also a bit of haven for artists. All guests seem to be into some sort of arts or have appreciation for it anyway. The man with bandana over his knitted hair showed us around rooms – he creates those light fittings only using those items he collected from rubbish.

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

His lights are soft and delicate. Quite calming and meditating, actually. Each room has a different and unique piece. No two lights he makes are the same.

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

Hualien - guest house

This piece was made out of the sensation of surfing.

Hualien - guest house

This little birdie was made by another artist.

We went back to a few more drinks in front of the open fire…

Check out the guesthouse on Facebook:
海或手作民宿 Ocean Home
https://www.facebook.com/Ocean.home456

(update)
8 Dec ’14: added a short paragraph about driving vs bus. Added the photo from Hualien station.

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