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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

Hualien to Taipei the long way

TAIWAN | Wednesday, 17 December 2008 | Views [5186]

Since the weather was still rubbish, I decided to stay in Hualien for a second night. While there, I used a couple of the city's massive, ultra-cheap and high speed web cafes. I felt old and square as I sat writing emails and booking flights while hordes of young chain smoking gamers annihilated zombies at maximum volume!

Having never tried it, I chose 'goosemeat' with a side order of shiitake mushrooms at a restaurant. That arrived, and was delicious - the goose tasted just like beef...

... but that turned out to be because it was beef! Once I'd finished the first dish, it became clear that I'd only eaten the side order!

Then the goose arrived...

...and I waited a few minutes, not wanting to make an arse of myself by being the only foreigner, _and_ trying to eat raw goose! Some of the other tables had burner sets on them, so I thought I might be getting one too.

A few minutes later I tried to convey my 'should I eat it like this?' question to a waitress, but she went away and eventually came back with a cardboard box for me to take the goosemeat home in!

So I decided to eat it, and it was also delicious - I think it must have been marinaded or cured or something.

The next day I headed down to Yuli, and stayed for a couple of nights outside the town at an excellent B&B called Wisdom Garden. May and her husband, who ran the B&B, were incredibly generous and took me out for all sorts of meals at the markets in Yuli. We also went to see some friends of theirs who are bee-keepers. They had dozens of hives, and seemed to produce about as much royal jelly from their bees as honey.

Extracting royal jelly... I'd never tried it before, and fresh out of the hive it was extremely strong stuff!

When I left Yuli, May and her husband gave me a lift down to Tawu, since they were heading to the south of Taiwan. From there I got a train to Kaohsiung on the south west coast. It's Taiwan's second largest city, and one of the busiest ports in the world.

From Kaohsiung it took me about eight hours to get up to Ruelli, which isn't all that far away, but public transport in Taiwan outside the big cities isn't always great.

Bamboo forests

After a couple of nights in Ruelli, it took the best part of a day on buses and trains to get up to Sun Moon Lake...

Very tranquil, but for completeness here's a picture taken looking in the other direction...

Although the weather was mainly good, the haze was unbelievable... having trekked for hours to get a good view of the lake, it was barely visible!

Part of a huge tea plantation

At Sun Moon Lake I also saw what has to be one of the world's thinnest hotels!

From there it took a couple of coach journeys to get to Taipei, where I had a day to see a few more things.

I thought this was some amazing temple, but it turned out to be an expensive hotel!

Since there was hardly anybody else around, this man gave me an amazing private recital of several traditional Taiwanese and Japanese tunes at the Confucius temple (which is in the picture at the top).

My last Taiwanese hotpot meal... can anybody really eat that much for lunch?!

All photos © George Clerk. All rights reserved. Licenses available at www.istockphoto.com/resonants or please contact me at photos@foogaloo.com

Tags: goose, hualien, kaohsiung, ruelli, sun moon lake, taipei, taiwan, yuli



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