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Sunday, October 4, 2009

End of the Season?

I love going to the beach, which makes it all the more inexplicable that until today, we hadn't made any trips this year to the sand and surf despite the fact we live on a relatively small island (we did try to go last week, but the rain took care of that plan). So, with the weather still hot in the daytime but noticeably starting to cool in the evenings, we made our first, and most likely last, visit to the seaside in 2009.

On this sunny Mid-Autumn Festival 月見 holiday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival), we drove for almost three hours (including time spent in a traffic jam just outside of T'aichung [Taichū] 台中, and a stop for lunch) to the beach of our choice, Mashakou in T'ainan County 台南県, only to find it...closed. This didn't seem to bother my wife much, as she, like many Taiwanese (especially females), fears the sun and any hint of darkened skin (in my next life I'm going to marry either an Australian, a Hawaiian, an Okinawan or a Southern Californian - someone who actually enjoys the beach, and isn't afraid to set foot in the ocean). Seeing the disappointment on the faces of her husband and child, however, she quickly suggested driving through T'ainan (Tainan) city 台南市 to get to what is called "Golden Beach", which we finally reached shortly before 2:30 in the afternoon.

Golden Beach turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The sand was full of shells, much to Amber's delight, and the water was almost pristine by Taiwanese west coast standards, much to my delight. There was a lot of driftwood piled up in places (due to Typhoon Morakot 平成21年台風第8号, I wonder?), but for the most part, the sand was devoid of garbage. Best of all, it wasn't crowded, with most people there belonging to what turned out to be the Taiwan Kitesurfing Center http://www.tkc.tw/ (as I learned from talking with a fellow Californian, Joe from Redondo Beach, who told me he had lived in T'ainan for 19 years before moving to T'antzu [Tanshi] 潭子, next door to us in Fengyuan [Toyohara] 豊原, three weeks ago):

While Pamela did her best to hide from the sun, I spent the better part of two hours swimming in the Taiwan Strait 台湾海峡. Amber, meanwhile, had a blast looking for seashells, digging in the sand with her new pail and shovel and, finally, for about 30 minutes before we packed everything up to leave, joining me in the water in order to play in the waves (which were pretty small). Seeing the joy on her face was enough to make the long drive there worthwhile. It wasn't until we were walking back to the car around 5 o'clock that I noticed the big sign informing one and all, in both Chinese and English, that swimming was not allowed at Golden Beach!

So my only dip in the ocean for 2009 turned out to be an illegal one. I'll take breaking the law in this manner with my daughter anytime to sitting around a hot, smoky grill on the side of a busy road with a bunch of Taiwan Beer drinkin', Long Life cigarette smokin' おじさん. Happy Moon Festival y'all!

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