Saturday, July 31, 2010


Before Liang, Lena, and I left Taichung for Taipei, their Dad took us to lunch at more non-traditional restaurant. Where he proceeded to order these for an appetizer:

Despite their appearance, no tentacular creatures were harmed in the making of this foodstuff. The top layer is kimchi, beneath that (and difficult to see) is mayonnaise, then transparent noodles, then seaweed. Flavor-wise, they tasted entirely like kimchi. Texture-wise, they were all crunchy.

Liang gives one a try.

The unexpected texture is unexpected!

School Dayz

While living in Taiwan, Liang and Lena attended a school that was located only a few blocks from their home. We stopped by for a quick visit, as rumor had it that the school had undertaken some major renovations.

And the rumor was true!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Paper Dome/Church

More eating of things with and without faces! Drunken shrimp(s)!

Bamboo! This stuff is tasty! People at work have been asking me about things we ate in Taiwan, and the one I'm always talking about is this. Because it's so tasty! It's like baby bamboo shoots all steamed up. The white dipping sauce is actually like a sweet mayonnaise. These particular ones, you peel back the outer leave and dip them in the sauce. At another restaurant they had been pre-cubed, the mayo drizzled over them, and then decorated with rainbow sprinkles!


After we ate all these things and much much more, we headed to the Paper Church/Dome. The brochure says, "Paper Dome," while Liang's Dad kept calling it "Paper Church." Built, as you may suppose, of paper, it is located in a pretty spot not too far from Sun Moon Lake.

The Paper Church.

This was originally built in Japan as a temporary structure, after a terrible earthquake destroyed a community church. Years later, after the Japanese city had rebuilt, a very strong earthquake hit Taiwan (not too long ago, as Liang was in high school? yes?). Massive destruction ensued. The Japanese city and the members of the Paper Church felt such sympathy, remembering their own devastating earthquake experience, that they decided to pack up their no-longer-needed paper church and send it to Taiwan. The Paper Church was then relocated to its present location, a few miles from the earthquake epicenter.

The English brochure reads like some sort of free-verse poem:
Paper Dome,
A distinctive architecture made of paper pillars,
Associated the Great Hanshin earthquake in Japan with the
921 Earthquake in Taiwan. It accompanied residents in Kobe
to recover from the trauma.

Paper Dome, now traveling a long way from across the ocean
Will bring new spirit to Taiwanese communities
With her new-born charisma.

Earthquake, though, shows us the cruelty of devastating power, it discloses the perseverance of the recovery as well as love and mutual assistance among people.

Unidentified Temple

Directly across from the look out we stopped at along the shores of Sun Moon Lake was a large, still-unknown-to-me, temple complex. Since it was a weekday, it was pretty calm.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sun Moon Lake

We did a morning car trip to the center of Taiwan, to visit Sun Moon Lake. Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan, and the name comes from the shape of the lake. The eastern half is circular (like the sun) and the western half is somewhat crescent-shaped (like the moon).

Me and Liang.

Lena, their Dad and Mom, and Liang. Stare into the sun at Sun Moon Lake.

Leaving the lake, Liang's Dad decided to take the picturesque route. And so we drove around the entire perimeter of the lake. Like all lakes, Sun Moon Lake does not have perfectly straight sides. In America, no big deal, just move the earth, build some bridges, be a little further from the lakeside. Not so in Taiwan! That road followed every single little quirk of the lakeshore. All but Liang's Dad was at least a little car sick by the time we made it to a highway. And that is apparently as real as a Taiwanese road trip can get.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Night Market

My first night in Taiwan we went to the fantastic Fengjia Night Market. I only wish that I had been more awake. All sorts of things are sold at the night markets - food, clothes, eyeglasses, household goods, trinkets, etc - which extend from established storefronts to food stalls to more transient shops along a number of connecting streets, alleys, and shopping galleries.

Liang is pumped for the pepper-meat-ball (pepper-meat-ball also involves scallions and being wrapped up in a pastry).

Not the pepper-meat-ball, but a close second: egg scallion pancake thingy. (Rest assured, Liang will most likely have the real name and accurate contents for this on her own blog.)

The contents of the egg scallion pancake thingy.

Shiny-faced me eats a pepper-meat-ball.

One liter of bubble tea. Or as the sign at the shop advertised: 1000 cubic centimeters!!!

The plastic cup was so big, not even Creepy Spider-Fingers herself could wrap her hands around it.

One of the awesome things about freshly-made drinks in Taiwan is that all of the shop owners have a device that seals the top of the drink with a sheet of thin plastic. This allows the drinks to be transported in any-which-way without spilling. Consequently the straws all have slanted pointy ends: you stab them into the drink, through the plastic 'lid' in order the drink.

Straw stabbing in action. Go!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lugang Mazu

We visited a beautiful and famous temple complex in Lugang, the same city where the fab seafood restaurant was located. The temple is dedicated to a goddess named Mazu.

According to the English portion of the visitors' brochure, Mazu was a real person. The brochure says that she was a doctor who saved the lives of people "suffering from disasters on the sea." Upon her death people began to seek her assistance and ask for her protection and eventually she became to be regarded as a deity. Her affiliation with sailors and fishermen made the Taiwanese quite fond of her - a wise move for a small island nation.

Liang made me be in this picture, as "proof" I had actually visited Taiwan.

After you light the incense and make the proper reverences, you can stick the long ends of the incense into the sandy cauldron bottom of this large censer.

A long-established port city, Mazu has been important to the city of Lugang for centuries. The central solid gold statue of Mazu was brought to Lugang in 1684. The temple was founded in, as the brochure says, "the past 321 years of the Republic of China, the 19th year of the Wan-Li Emperor." The temple was rebuilt/restored several times between now and then.

These are the equivalent of votive candles. Each little figure has a light over top of it: put your name on it, pay a fee, and the light is lit. These are more economical that votive candles, as the Catholic Church will charge you for a new candle every time. Presumably these little electric lights stay on longer.

There are massive hives of them.

There are so many gems from the visitors' brochure. This is the introduction:
After the human having the civilization, there are mythical legends. When the time changing, it forms the various religious culture. More, there is a lot of religious belief in the world do to the various nationalities. Chinese worship many nationality gods, and the mankind worship in order to worship naturally respectively. The mankind has benefaction before death because of their with great men of sages and men of virtue while worshipping, there are great works marks that leave virtue and justice and travel in human world and is respected regard as gods, respected and admire by people the most.