Sunday, March 25, 2012
Highlights of our zhōumò:
Camera in hand, Pamela took an interest in the details of the exteriors:
Amber had a modeling session on Saturday that lasted into the afternoon. That evening, my wife decided we not only had to have steak, but that we had to eat it at the Taichung Steak House, the place to go...if you like dining on an industrial scale. The dining room was huge, and close to capacity, which unsurprisingly ruled out having any sort of quiet meal. And while there was a wide of variety of foods to choose from, all of it tasted bland - institutionalized cuisine in a giant canteen. Avoid it.
Fortunately for me, a bottle of White Beer, courtesy of the North Taiwan Brewing company, was waiting patiently for my return home. Craft beers, especially local ones, aren't easy to find in this country, so if you should come across a bottle such as this one, don't avoid it:
Early in the afternoon on Sunday: First, it was lunch at the Taichung Fish Market, not to be confused with the fish market located next to the port in Wúqī 梧棲. No, this Taichung Fish Market can be found next to the No. 1 Freeway in the city itself. The last time we went there was a few years ago, not long after it had first opened, and unsurprisingly the people there were packed in like sardines. This time, things were much quieter, so much so that many of the stalls in the center of the building have been replaced by a giant vegetarian restaurant...in the heart of a fish market. At least the seafood here was much better than what we had last night at the steak house, though even here I couldn't escape from the Taiwanese tendency to serve sushi 寿司 and sashimi 刺身 that is still half-frozen. For Amber, today was her first time to enjoy a Ramune ラムネ:
Mid-Sunday afternoon: Following lunch, we drove to Wùfēng 霧峰, intent on "stepping back into history at (a) landmark Taiwan mansion" (as an article from last November in The Seattle Times described it). In other words, we were planning on visiting the Lin Family Mansion and Garden. Judging by the tone of that last sentence, you would be correct in assuming that things didn't quite go as planned. For some unknown reason, the mansion was shut. A sign posted at the side of the complex indicated that only people who were part of certain groups were allowed to tour the buildings, so we had to content ourselves with the outside of what was once the mansion of a powerful family in the Wùfēng area:
My wife keeps knocking, but she can't get in
While the mansion may have been off-limits this afternoon, the gardens were open to all. Now a part of Míngtái High School 明台高中, touring the grounds meant the afternoon wasn't a waste of time after all:
Later that afternoon: We returned to Fēngyuán 豐原 from Wùfēng, but my wife wasn't ready to go home just yet. Taking a right onto Nányáng Road 南陽路, we found ourselves climbing Route 88, which took us to the other side of the mountain, and through villages we had never heard of, before eventually ending up in Shígāng 石岡.
Following dinner and some shopping, it was 7:00 by the time we got home. If you can figure out how to get into the mansion, I'm sure the Lin complex would make for a very interesting excursion. Wikipedia has an informative article on the mansion and garden. Maybe next time I might actually do some research before heading out.