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A New Adventure We do but turn another page - Act Three!

Spring Festival Holiday Adventure - Part Three

CHINA | Sunday, 27 March 2016 | Views [313]

Next day, Ryo got us to the train station for our overnight stay in Osaka before heading back to Taiwan. Managed to navigate our way to our ryokan (traditional style) hotel with tatami room and public bath. Settled in and then headed out to the nearby shopping streets along the river planning to meet some Kansai University students for dinner and amazingly ran into some colleagues from my high school in Nanjing who were also in Osaka – no idea we were even in the same country! Met at one of the busiest intersections in Osaka – then the students joined and we went to a fabulously popular ramen restaurant with little stalls with collapsing walls so you could join your counter neighbor or not depending – you put a little coaster on a button to , ring for more noodles –as a little song played the noodles appeared from the kitchen behind the counter. After the students left, Daniel and I and my colleagues headed out for a drink and happened upon a basement bar that was  totally deserted. Nice evening – headed back for a soak and bed. Next morning before our departure we did some more shopping and stopped at the temple with a moss covered Buddha. Then we hit the fish market which also had kimono shops mixed in. Headed to the airport after a lengthy trek to the station and tried to avoid the Peach luggage police to no avail – it was a crazy rush to try to get all the weight of carry ons and checked luggage to work. Barely made the flight especially because at the last minute Daniel’s carry on was detained because of the souvenir books of matches he had been collecting – forms had to be signed, etc.

Got back to Taiwan and got to Peggy’s friend’s apartment. Next day went to Cihu – Chang Kai Shek’s old summer estate, now mausoleum – beautiful grounds with a changing of the guard deal at his tomb and then a garden with at least a thousand of his statues all placed together – apparently, they had been removed from schools and other public buildings all over Taiwan as his memory had become problematic and they were afraid of having the statues vandalized. It was very eerie. Then we went on to a tour to Daxi river valley – a temple where lots of new year’s offerings were being burnt – both Daniel and I won lottery chances! Then headed to a village overlooking the river valley. Got back home late.

Next day we headed to Tapei and checked in at the Cozzi Hotel – very nice and visited a nearby temple. We ended the day with a cable car ride to a nearby mountain top where tea is grown. High winds swung the cable car precariously and we had tea atop a tea café to enjoy the view but couldn’t keep the fire under the tea kettle lit and could barely pour the tea in the high wind.

Next day – Lantern festival!!!  Met Stephanie and Henry at the bus station and headed to Pingsi – a small village near Taipei for the first of three sky lantern launchings for the new year. The roads were closed on the way there so only the buses were running. That was the smoothest part of the day. The rest of the day is a blur of crowds and smells – an ill fated side trip to Pussy Town – a village nearby known for its cats – trains were packed and the situation got desperate as it neared sundown. We finally had to take a train going away from Pingsi so we could get to the end of the line – then had to wait an hour for a train to arrive – sardine like, we made it abck in time to launch two of our own lanterns after writing our wishes for the year. Then we watched as the groups of lanterns were launched three hundred at a time. It was a beautiful sight, but we were happy to get back to our hotel.

Next day, checked out and had lunch with Wayne’s mom in a very posh restaurant. The sevice was slow and so they offered a free order of jellyfish – very odd! slimy and crunchy at the same time. Then we met Peggy’s sisters at a mall and had a Thai feast and then headed back to Peggy’s friend’s apartment. Got everything packed up and played cards and drank well into the night. Next day Daniel and Peggy headed home and I went back to Taipei first having lunch with Shiow Ching and her husband and friend at very beautiful Japanese restaurant. Shiow Ching is a nurse/professor who I do editing for. I edited her PhD dissertation while she was at the U. Then I met Stephanie and we met up with some colleagues from Nanjing and headed to a night market by the river opening onto the sea where Henry and his family met us. We walked along the riverfront sampling food and watching the sunset. It was delightful. Henry’s family was very convivial and we had some amazing dumpling soup with them all.

Next day headed to a huge temple complex where lots was going on for new years including chanting – there was an elaborate prayer system that included six or seven stations. Then Henry invited us all to lunch at his house which is in the middle of an area of warehouses. His wife served us a huge feast and then we went off to a mall for some shopping. Later went to another night market with my colleagues – more delicious food and crazy souvenirs. Next day I had some time in the morning to walk around – just went around my neighborhood to a little shopping street and watched the locals bargaining and eating – headed to the airport and home.

Thinking back on it now I feel so blessed to have been able to share these awesome, exotic, unusual places and events with old friends and new – to share my new life with old friends and reconnect with some of my favorite people in the world. There were tremendous moments of shared awe, hopeless exasperation, hilarious sights, delicious tastes, depths of exhaustion and heights of exhilaration. This is truly what life is about…these experiences and I look forward to many more.

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