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Monday, April 30, 2007

Flowers 花

Pamela's sisters paid a visit today, driving up to Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原(とよはら) from their homes in Hsiluo (Siluo) 西螺(せいら), so this morning we drove over to my brother-in-law's house to greet them. Everyone then went out to a local beef hotpot restaurant for lunch, which was followed by a visit to a flower farm in the neighboring town of Houli 后里(こうり). Afterwards, the in-laws decided to go to a hot springs 温泉, but as it was getting near 4 o'clock and with a tired little girl on our hands, we decided to call it a day and headed home. The story in pictures:

Before heading off to the restaurant for lunch, Amber and I took a walk to a local Seven-Eleven, where Amber checked out the headlines in today's Taipei Times newspaper. Seven-Eleven is featuring Japanese-style "ekiben" 駅弁, boxed lunches bought at train stations, and often containing local specialties. According to the poster, you can choose one of two kinds of ekiben: a chicken-and-rice 鶏めし box from Hakata Station 博多駅 in Fukuoka 福岡; or a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) 豚カツ meal, supposedly from Nagoya Station 名古屋駅. In any case, they have got to be an improvement over what's usually available from convenience stores in Taiwan, most of which I find either tasteless or just plain inedible. (Although considering what usually happens to Japanese food in Taiwan, I'm not getting my hopes up about these ekiben)

After lunch, while everyone else drove back to the house for some quick karaoke カラオケ before leaving for the flower farm, I pushed Amber in her stroller, which gave me an excuse to indulge in my guiltiest of pleasures in Taiwan: milk teas ミルクティー purchased from a chain of tea stands called Balance. At NT15 (45 cents or ¥50), it's 700cc of sweet pleasure that unfortunately adds inches to your waistline.

At last, we drove to the flower farm. At first, this place seemed to embody the worst of mass tourism, Taiwan-style: huge tour buses disgorging throngs of loud visitors, who then proceed to stuff their faces and sing karaoke (god, how I hate karaoke in Taiwan), all the while puffing on Long Life cigarettes and chewing betel nut 檳榔 (the men, anyway). However, once past the ticket barrier (which serves to keep the riff-raff out, I guess), the crowds thinned out, things became quieter and the flower fields turned out to be prettier than I expected.

Amber enjoys some of the flowers

A monster carp 鯉

Some family portraits amid the flowers

The lavender fields ラベンダー野原 were especially nice. 北海道っぽい!

One of life's simplest but most enjoyable pleasures, and one which I hope Amber will get enjoy on many occasions as she gets older

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