Archive for the 'mountain' Category


Roadside Scenery around Hualien

Sorry I’ve been dreadful about posting and responding to comments recently.

Here are some photos of the countryside of Hualien from the vantage point of a tour bus full of children…

Many of the riverbeds in Taiwan are dry as this one is.  Often the water is diverted into rice paddies.

There tend to be a lot of tour buses that frequent Hualien.

It’s a good thing I never had to drive around Hualien– the clouds and mountains are far too distracting.  I’d never figure out proper directions.

The lamppost looks like an odd sort of tree…

Sitting on the bus, watching the scenery flow past the windows, I relaxed with the view of all that green and blue.  My kids and I all ended up dozing off at some point or another.  The nice thing about a bus is that I didn’t feel compelled to count heads every five minutes to make sure that I hadn’t lost any children on our field trip!



On a memorable weekend before I left Taipei, my dear cousin took me out to the beach by Keelung.  We drove to a scenic point on the mountain where I had fun with my zoom lens figuring out what people were doing on the shore.

I am guessing that they are checking out a fish, or perhaps a snail.  Or maybe someone dropped a contact…

A little purple wildflower that was all over the mountain where we first stopped to enjoy the view.

Tiny blueberries growing by the side of the road.

We hung out by the tide pools and my cousin and his friend attempted to catch fish with no luck, though they did catch a crab, and a few snails I believe.  We let them all go before we left.

I wonder what they’re looking at.

Something about this picture makes me think of zen.

Dusk on the beach.

The fishing boats all have these garlands of humongous clear light bulbs to illuminate the area around the boat and attract fish.  At night, the boats are independent stars bobbing on the darkness of the ocean on the edge of the horizon.  According to my cousin, one needs a permit to go with a fishing boat out to do deep-sea fishing.  (Thanks go to my cousin for the patience and help in setting up this not-completely blurry shot of the fishing boat at night…  I actually bought a tripod, but just don’t seem to bring it when it turns out I could actually use it…)

Corn dogs.  The one with the orange bit wrapped around it is cheese, and the one with the green bit wrapped around it is wasabi (I think).  I’ve eaten duck tongues, pig feet, and all manner of intriguing cuisine here in Taiwan, but the cheese corn dog ranks as the most disgusting thing I think I have ever eaten.  So much for rebelling against nutritionist-mothers!

I know what you’re all wondering… Would drinking one of those bubbling steamy drinks make steam shoot out of your ears???  Sadly, no.  My friend said it wasn’t half-bad and she got to keep the cup with a steam vent on it.  I think there was dry ice involved…



I found this moth clinging to the outer wall of this antique store that is no longer operating, but has its windows and doors open for people to peer in and have a taste of nostalgia for the old wares inside.

I have no idea what kind of moth it is, and I think it was dead or in a deep abiding slumber, as it didn’t flinch when I moved aside some flat wooden postcards to snap its picture.

We were wandering this little mountain town where we hopped off the mountain train, feasted, and wandered the streets listening to little clay bird flutes, and trying the “tomato tree” fruit which was more akin to passionfruit (except red instead of yellow inside), and rather sour.


Alishan Tea

Tea also grows nearby, though apparently not on Alishan, where the elevation is a bit too high for it, if I remember correctly. Or maybe tea is only grown on the lower elevations of mountains.

A photograph that I took from a moving bus in the rain on the way back to Chaiyi. I think that’s tea.

This is certainly tea– it’s supposed to be that golden color. Alishan’s tea is a fine oolong. However, I have to say, it was generally rather bitter for my taste. It’s a good gift-ish sort of souvenir though.

The lovely lady who served our taste of tea turned out the first brew because it was more polite.

Generally the tea ceremony involves the boiling water swished around the teapot and then poured out after warming the vessel. Then the tea leaves are tossed in, and the hot water steeps them for just a quick second or so. Then she tossed out the first bunch of tea into the hole-y tray and took off the cover to whisk the newly unfurled fresh leaves to steam under our noses and release their scent into our faces. She then steeped the leaves again and poured the tea in tiny cups.

We sipped too much tea for around nine or ten o’clock at night for people who were waking up at four to see the sunrise. The tea left an odd sensation in my mouth like a night that is too early old.

I want to go tea picking again. And I want to go to Maokong again too… I really love the jasmine tea I picked up from there.


Can cause tears and decongestion

WordPress decided that my original post was tasty for some odd reason and swallowed it up.


Anyway, I came upon these roots:

And wondered why someone would put up a statue of one (Well, “statue” is a bit of a loosely used term here. It does seem to be more of an amusement park decoration…)

We stopped in at one of the stands and she peeled the root, and then rubbed it vigorously against a little bumpy grater, deftly scraping some of the paste off and onto moichi (little generally sweet sticky rice cakes dusted with flour which seem to be special to every tourist destination). After popping it into my mouth, the vigorous crisp taste surged through my throat and up my nose to drag tears from my popping eyes. After a determined swallow, I let my jaw drop so I could take a deep breath of soothing cool misty air.

The combination of moichi with this was rather odd.

I took a set of flavored peanuts back to Taipei to treat my colleagues and dare my students with. There is photographic representation of my sixth grade class breathing through their noses wide-awake, but I’m afraid of their just retribution were I to post it here….

And though it does have rather painfully decongestive properties, it wasn’t able to quite battle the nasty cold I brought back with me from Alishan.

Any guesses as to what this is?

ETA: Yup Herbert and Z, it’s wasabi– though there is a Chinese name for it that I don’t remember…


Cherry Blossoms, Ing hwa

I have fond memories of the weeping cherry tree in our front yard transforming from deep pink buds to pale white petals raining down into the fresh shoots of spring grass. Last spring in Taipei was my first remembered spring without cherry blossoms.  I’d originally intended to visit Kyoto this weekend for the Cherry Blossom Festival where people picnic under the cherry trees.  Cherry blossoms are special in Japan because they embody the transience of mono no aware— a delight that holds a note of sorrow, because we know that it will pass all too quickly.

Visiting cherry blossoms in the misty mountains of Alishan was the chance to see their blush delicately intermingled with the forest of trees around them.

The deep pink of this particular kind of cherry tree I’d never seen before.

The kind that I’m more accustomed to is paler– and most of those were still in bud, though a few managed to bloom.

Though it was still early in the season, some cherry blossoms and petals managed to slip down and nestle in the grass.

Happy Spring!


“Rosy-fingered dawn” or “The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” over Alishan

So the big crowd-pleaser at Alishan is the sunrise. We all crashed in this hostel where there were three double-bed bunkbeds crammed in a room with two bathrooms. It was perfectly pleasant and reminded me of my backpacking month in France. My little cell phone alarm woke us up at 4 AM and we headed up for the ridiculously long line to take the mountain train up to see the sunset. The mountain train was very narrow with benches on either side and room for about two people in the aisle clinging to the hand grips for dear life as the train swayed back and forth chugging upwards. The Taiwanese capacity for crowding was as usual rather impressive (though I’ve been in worse). I think the crazily crammed train might have accounted for the odd sensation of a grain of sand lodged in my throat that became a full-on bout of thready voice/sore throat and a cold for the week and a half afterwards. (My last experience with a crazy-crammed train was coming back to Tainan from Hualien, and that one resulted in half the party getting a vile tummy-thrasher for the new year.)

This is the station after most of the passengers had poured out and up the stairs to the viewing platform where there were breakfast shops and at least one guide with an obnoxious bull-horn…

The zoomed shot past all the people…

We didn’t stay here. Instead we followed this path up…

To a mostly abandoned higher platform that afforded views of the mountains all around us.

The sea of clouds completely obscured the valley, and the mountains were only shadows that echoed the clouds. Sometimes I wasn’t quite sure whether the shadow I was looking at was a mountain ridge or a cloud bank.

Sunrise is different from sunsets of my experience (Being a mao toe ing–owl, or yeh mao tze–cat, or any other beings with nocturnal tendencies, I so rarely see the sun, and morning light tends to be outside my span of wakefulness…) The horizon does have that orange glow before the sun rises, but the sun rises brightly, blindingly instead of that slow, easy-on-the eyes large orange ball of a sunset. If I could just get cool sunglasses that I wouldn’t forget in my bag where they get scratched up by my keys…. I just fiddled with the ISO in my camera and looked through the viewfinder to take a break from the sun, but here were the other methods to see the sun.

The other sunrise photographs are here.

Oh, and excuse my nerdiness for quoting Homer’s Odyssey and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado in the subject line…

Free Rice

September 2019
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