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Monday, February 18, 2008

Feeling a little 懐かしい in Dairi

The cold spell we had been having for the last two weeks seems to have lifted this weekend, as sunny skies and 20-degree Centigrade temperatures (68F) returned to central Taiwan. The family took advantage of the break in the weather by going for a Sunday drive to Tali (Dali) 大里, a city with a population of 190,000 southeast of T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中. Once there, we parked our car along a riverbank, and let Amber stretch her young legs. The area beside the river was bleak, to say the least. The combination of dry brush, weeds and dust, not to mention dirty water and typical Taiwanese urban surroundings, doesn't overawe one with the wonders of nature. But I felt a strange twinge of nostalgia being out there, as it reminded me of the times I went biking, walking and just generally hanging out along the banks of the Tama River 多摩川 when I was living in Setagaya 世田谷区 and Komae 狛江市 in Tōkyō 東京. Amber didn't seem to mind the surroundings, either, as she kept herself busy examining sticks and stones, and making footprints in the sandy soil. Pamela, however, who seems to find open spaces a source of mild anxiety, felt otherwise, and it wasn't long before we were back in the car, and headed towards Taichung and its one million residents.

A teenage couple enjoys a private moment underneath a small bridge, while Amber makes friends with a woman's pet rabbit ウサギ.

The best cure for those who don't like having personal space is to go somewhere everyone else is going to, and this weekend the place to be in Taichung was at the Lantern Festival 小正月 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lantern_festival), being held at the Wenhsin (Wunsin) Forest Park 文心森林公園.
 
While searching for a parking space, I managed to capture a shot of a restaurant sign boasting of having Chinese noodles with the best taste 味一番ラーメン. Once at the park, we walked around looking at the lanterns on display, which this year have a Mickey Mouse ミッキーマウス theme. Surprisingly, and somewhat disappointingly, there were fewer lanterns than we expected, and overall, everything seemed more like a county fair or 祭り - lots of food vendors, souvenir stalls and rides for the (bigger) kiddies, but not much in the way of decorative lights. Even Amber eventually lost interest, and wanted to go home.

When you're trapped in your mother's comfort zone, you need a doughnut ドーナツ to keep everything in perspective.

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