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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lunar New Year 旧正月 Day 3

Looking at a map of Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, one thing that immediately stands out is Yuanhuan Road, aka the "Circle Road". One could call this road Fengyuan's Yamanote Line 山手線. Most of the city, including the train station 豊原駅, the bus station 豊原バスターミナル and the Pacific Department Store 太平洋デパート, lie within the circle. With nothing but time on my hands this Lunar New Year vacation, this morning I decided to walk the length of Yuanhuan Road, going in a clockwise direction from the local Blockbuster Video store. 80 minutes and 7200 steps later, I can state with confidence that the circle road is never going to be mentioned in any guidebooks. Nevertheless, I did take a few pictures of things I found interesting.

"Kenko katei no mise" 健康家庭の店. I'm not sure what the healthy home shop is selling as it was closed for the Chinese New Year, but it does have a simple, yet cute mascot, Baron-chan バロンちゃん.

Another example of Japanese (or Japanese English in this case), レーシング (with "Racing" below in English) on the sign for a scooter shop

A Taoist temple 道観 on the busy intersection of Yuanhuan and Chungshan (Jhongshan) Roads, hidden behind some large billboards

The Taichung (Taijhong) County 台中県 Assembly Hall. Fengyuan is the seat of Taichung County.

An interesting blend of concrete and corrugated metal

In the early evening, we drove to the Mitsukoshi Department Store 三越デパート in Taichung to buy a jacket to replace my Seattle Mariners one that was stolen from my scooter a couple of weeks ago. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Temari 手鞠 (the name of a traditional Japanese handball game), in the Food Court on the 11th floor. The nice thing about this place is that the menu is in Japanese as well as Chinese, very helpful considering Chinese names for Japanese dishes are very difficult to work out. I ordered a fried foods set consisting of とんかつ、エビフライ、コロッケ and チキン, and ended up regretting it before the I had finished the meal.

Too much oil on that plate for my sensitive stomach. And as is too often the case with Japanese food in Taiwan, it was tasteless. Bland. For some reason, Taiwanese cooks hesitate to add much salt to Japanese dishes here, with the result being the food is too light-tasting (I have one student who prefers Taiwanese-style Japanese food, claiming the food she ate in Hokkaido 北海道 was too salty!). Some of my other complaints about 日本料理 in Taiwan: they give you way too much wasabi わさび here (to cover the lack of taste, no doubt), and sashimi 刺身 is almost always served half-frozen. But this is Taiwan after all. If I want to eat real (delicious) Japanese food, I'll have to wait until my next visit to Nippon.

The evening ended on a fun note, as Amber really enjoyed playing with the balloons in the children's play area on the 6th floor. Despite being the youngest and smallest one there, our little one was fearless in the face of the balloon onslaught.

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