We actually didn’t make it to Gaoxiong at all. The first went down to the old Chikan fort in central Tainan to look around. I’d been there before but it’s still neat to look around. While we were there, there were some military fighter jets doing some training overhead and I managed to get a couple decent photos as they flew over. The Japanese sidewalk restaurant we were supposed to go to on Friday night was across the street and though we thought it was only open for dinner, it was just opening up when we left the fort, so Maggie and Emily and I ate lunch there while the rest went elsewhere nearby.
Bonita and Ilona had bought return bus tickets for 2:50pm but they decided to stay rather than go after all, so Elly and my mother-in-law used those tickets instead. The rest of us went to the other old fort in Tainan, Anping fort which is near the waterfront. First Emily took a ride on a small train set a vendor had set up, while I watched and the others looked around the market outside.
I decided not to go into the fort as I’d been there too and wasn’t as interested in going again, so Maggie and Emily and I set out to find someplace to sit and wait for them. We saw a guy carrying two large lizards who was soliciting people to take pictures with them. He took an interest in Emily and when he heard she wanted a cracker to eat he darted off to a nearby stand to help her buy some crab flavored crisps. Then we walked out to the main road and Emily saw a guy selling fresh squeezed orange juice and wanted to get some. She’s getting so she can buy things herself now.
(In Taiwan it is common to have trucks parked by the side of the road selling produce. For orange juice you’ll see a truck piled high with oranges and there will be a guy at the side of the truck cutting up oranges and tossing them into a mechanical juice press and bottling the results. It’s really amazing how good real fresh squeezed orange juice is.)
I asked the juice guy where the beach was but the answer was a bit too complex so Maggie talked to him in Taiwanese for a bit. The developed beach area was a few kilometers away so we set off to get a taxi to take us. In Taipei you can just about go out to the curb and flag a taxi down in less than a minute most of the time, but in Tainan there’s not as many taxis around. We eventually got one and set out.
When we got to the entrance of the beach area Maggie noticed a famous restaurant called the Five Cent Driftwood House across the street, so we went in there to chill out for a few hours having tea and beer and snacks. The restaurant was made out of various random pieces of wood logs and was pretty inventively put together. In any case, it was a nice cool air conditioned place to kick back.
Ilona and Bonita joined up with us and after they had their rest we headed back to the previous night’s Fried Fish Soup restaurant (on Hai An Road near Bao An Road, for the next time you’re in Tainan) where I wolfed down two bowls of soup for dinner. Then we headed off to the bus station to buy our return tickets. The tickets we got were for about an hour and a half later so we headed to a nearby park for a while where Emily spent a lot of time playing on the playground.
We left around 7:45pm and got back home around 12:30am.
This week I’ve ordered the local equipment and signed a contract for construction. I also went and talked with S.P., another American who has opened up two Subway shops in Taipei, and who was able to give me a lot of good advice. He was given as a reference by the construction guy I chose, and I had intended to just ask him about that, but he ended up chatting with me for almost an hour and a half about lots of good things to know about the business.
On funny thing happened to me when I was in the Landis Hotel bakery yesterday. My conversation went something like this:
This apparently delighted one of the other customers who said my Chinese sounded very good. My Chinese isn’t actually that good, but since I buy a lot of french bread, that conversation is pretty much down pat. She then proceeded to ask if I know any Taiwanese and said I don’t, which is mostly true, so she tried to teach me some. When she was doing this I surprised her by throwing in a couple of Taiwanese words that I do know. I really don’t know Taiwanese but I do know stuff like “sorry”, “it’s nothing”, “unbelievable”, “i don’t want”, “i’m full” and “crab”. (“crab” sounds like Jim in Taiwanese so I get teased about that sometime.) Anyways, it was kinda fun.
The only other interesting occurrence this week was another earthquake, this time a 5.7 in the middle of the night. Felt like someone bumped into my bed:
2006-04-05 03:30:00 M 5.7 24.42N 122.74E, i.e. 107.8 km ESE of Yilan City #034 (0405033057034)
I’m still waiting for the damn insurance policy. It was supposed to be done today.