Today, Joe and I spent the day trading off who stayed inside Channa's apartment, and who went outside to run errands (mostly involving finding internet, and calling Master Yangs's contacts). Channa told me about the cafe Insomnia, so I spent the first part of the day there Couchsurfing b/c Channa could only host us on the weekdays, not the weekends. Her roommates like to party on the weekends, so their couch is not the best place to try and crash. Problem: the weekend started on Friday. Today, was friday. We needed a new place to crash, and I couldn't get a hold of the 2 Couchsurfers who said that they could have us over on the weekend. Then I called my mom and tried to get some info on Master Yang's contacts, but it ended up with me just calling a different Kung Fu brother, me attempting to speak to him in Chinese, and then being hung up on. Joe spent his time out doing Kung Fu in the park of course, and he also tried his hand at the phone callings, and then wondered around the city looking for the Elephant Hostel or something like that. He never ended up finding it, so when it was my turn to go out back into the city, I walked down the street to the main road, checked all the light up signs for what I thought was the Kanji for hotel, and then I saw one that said “HOTEL” Yeah, I went straight over and asked how much. It was expensive (or at least from what I am used to with Chinese pricing), and came out to about 70 USD. I attempted to ask if there were any cheeper hotels, but the woman said that she didn't know of any around here. I told her to hold the room for one hour, and then I'd be back with more money and my boyfriend.
When we checked in they gave us coupons for breakfast, and then the nicest, softest bed and pillow set we had laid eyes on in over 3 months! The room was small, and the bed took up pretty much the whole space, but that was all we wanted. That, and the beautiful bathroom with a bade and a shower in separate compartments (meaning there was a shower door)! To top it off we had wifi and a huge flat screen tv that Joe sat up most of the night watching the Discovery channel. “I never knew the Discovery channel actually had interesting and amazing looking shows!” He had only watched the Discovery channel in school, and he thought it was always about some bug crawling in the Amazon or some animals mating in the Savanna. Now that we had wifi I finally got messages back from the Couchsurfers, and it turned out that Friday night was not good for one of them, and that he, Rudi, had already told another person they could stay with them. Another person also replied to me and invited us to go on a hike tomorrow, and said that we could stay with her on the weekend. I really wanted to go, but Joe's hip and ankle were now bothering him, and he needed to give them a rest. I got a hold of Rudi on the phone and explained that we didn't have internet at our other Couchsurfer, and that we ended up getting a hotel, but if he was free tomorrow we still needed a place for the weekend. I also told him that we wanted to go on this hike with other Couchsurfers, and he said that he had other plans, and invited me to go along with him instead. I hopped on facebook and saw that his rockclimbing event looked a little too much for a beginner like me, and it was on Sunday, not Saturday. So, thanking me for not letting him go to the rock climb a day early, said that he maybe up for the hike, and that it was okay for us to crash with him for about 4 days. That being taken care of, I turned off the computer, and forced Joe to turn off the tv. Joe attempted to use this “quality time” to ourselves, but I got in the way of that. And yeah, I said the bestest, most ultimate line, right above I have to wash my hair... I said was tired, and then added that I wanted to maximize the time I got to sleep in a nice bed. I guess we have 2 different opinions of whats important.
The next morning I called Rudi after breakfast and asked him if it was okay for us to drop our things off at his place, and then head out for the hike. He told me that he didn't think we had time to make the hike today since it would take longer than I thought to get to his place. I hung up with him and discussed it with Joe, saying that since he didn't want to hike anyways, that maybe it was okay that we were going to miss it. But Joe said that he could just stay with the stuff where the bus drops us off for the hike and do Tai Chi, and I could go on the hike with everyone else. I tried to call Rudi back and explain that we wouldn't be coming right now after all, and that we would come over after the hike, but after 3 tries on his cell phone, I gave up. We left the hotel and took the metro to the McDonalds near the Taipei station ( this was the meeting location for the hike). When we got there we were told that we would not be returning to the same location as we started, so Joe would have to take all the bags back into Taipei on his own. They suggested that we get lockers at the metro station, so we ran, got a locker, and then ran back to the McDonalds. Then we all headed to the bus station.
At the bus we borrowed someone's cell phone and gave Rudi a call letting him know that we just went straight to the hike and would come over afterwards. He was furious. Joe tried to explain to him that we tried to call earlier, but he didn't pick up, and we didn't have a cell phone until just now. He didn't care, and told us that letting him wait for us for almost an hour was unacceptable, and that we were no longer welcome at his place. This left both of us feeling really on edge. We didn't mean to be rude, but we already spent about $3 trying to call him on the hotel phone, and he wasn't answering. Now we had really pissed someone off, and we were out of a place to stay for the evening. We noticed that the girl who told us about the hike wasn't there, so we gave her a quick call too. It turned out that she decided to go on a different hike later with some of her friends she was meeting for breakfast and ran late. However, we could still crash with her that night.
This at least calmed my nerves about where I was going to sleep, but I physically felt my face blush for the next few hours as I ran just the Joe half of his phone conversation with Rudi through my head, over and over, not trying to beat myself up, but accidentally allowing the thought to keep reoccurring. No matter. At least I can move on in my writing.
The bus took us into the forests of the local mountain range, up some pretty steep climbs, and then past a waterfall! It wasn't very big, but it was tall. Joe was upset that he didn't jump out there to do his Tai Chi, but he rode up the street a bit further to get off the bus with us. We were told on the facebook event notice that we would be dropped off near the waterfall, so he was hoping that this next one may be better.
Unfortunately, the next waterfall was a little hike up the ways, but we dropped Joe off at the area where the water crashed down some rocks.
(Lucy Liu in pink is our translator for the mountain guy in blue)
Starting up the path there were a lot of stairs, but then it leveled off at a cool little canal. The guy leading the hike was an actual mountain dweller near the fishing village, so he knew all the best spots to take us, unfortunately he didn't speak any English. So his friend who organized the hike translated for us that the villagers built this carnal to transport fresh fish across the mountains to the other villages (really neat and simple concept. I approve).
Moving on we passed by more waterfalls than I had seen in all of China (Joe! You should have come! The 60 yr old guy came in flip flops b/c his foot was too swollen for anything else! BTW, he has no idea why his foot began to swell a few days ago...)
Then we trudged through the narrowest paths being sliced by sharp long blades of grass that hung off bushes like leaves. Our guide said that these paths weren't kept up b/c technically we weren't allowed to be walking on them. Oh... I guess that makes it okay then. When we finally made it to the open clearing we all sat down to take a break and wash out our woods.
Than it was back into the brush!
Thats me, and this is Elena:
a primary school teacher who I've been talking with for about the past hour about our travels. She offered for Joe and I to sleep in her school on the weekend and she could bring some blankets. I thought it would be awesome to sleep in a school over night, but I told her that we were staying with Ashley, so we should be set for now. (Remember when we did that in junior high? That was a fucking blast! My junior high had a sleepover on the weekend this one time and they had the cafeteria open all night for you to get snacks and drinks and bakery made by the moms bake sale style, and then they had all the classrooms set up with different activities like poker and PlayStaiton and board games. They also had the gym open with scheduled times for games, and you would just show up if you wanted to play volleyball and the teachers would get everyone on teems and we would play until it was time for the next sport. Then they had one hallway set up for girls, and the other for boys, and the different genders weren't allowed into the others hallway, but that was pretty much expected, and avoided by some of the “cool kids.” Basically the night was set up by the Panda group, People Against Narcotics and Drug Abuse... maybe, but anyway anti drug group showing kids all the different things they could do to have fun without shooting up. But, I digress.) Turns out that she knew Ashley, and so did most of the people on the hike (CSers stick together). They all called her a bum for not coming and told me to pass it along. I would.
This next time when we came out of the brush we were hit by the smell of rotting eggs.
The Taiwanese government didn't keep up the paths here because they deemed these sulfuric fumes to be too dangerous for the public.
So obviously, the French guy had to check it out.
And I did too. (But I didn't take the sulfur rock he was handing me. I thought that may be crossing some sort of chemical line).
Amanda and her dad, the 60 yr old who had been to pretty much every country in all of Asia:
The rock that reminds me of a radio active Pizza the Hut from Space Balls:
Then we hiked our way into a dark poets dream land:
We lost some of the older women along the way because there was a longer path up the mountain, but not a steep, so they broke off from us. While we waited for them at the top there was a bus station (so we didn't have to walk back down) and a small snack store where we all bought hot chocolate.
The bus ride down:
This picture has caused some commotion with my Uncle Tony, so I thought I would explain the photo before you get the wrong idea. The French guy is her boyfriend, and he was actually really cutely sleeping against her while she occasionally closed her eyes and leaned her head back... until someone pointed out why he got to sleep on her shoulder, and shouldn't it be the other way around. He woke up for that and explained with a heaver French accent than usual, “I would get more sleep at night if she did not snore like a pig!” She gave him a good slap to his chest, and that is what put a blissful smile across his face.
Speed of light bus ride through Taipei (it only looks like this b/c I don't know how to work the camera)
After we got dropped off we crossed the street to the night market for some dinner. I was supposed to meet Joe back at the Taipei station at 7:30, so I had about an hour before I needed to head out.
These photos were everything I thought China was going to be.
At dinner we sat down at a curry place and were almost immediately attacked by these school girls! It was part of their school assignment to talk to some foreigners and then get their picture taken with them. Luckily I somehow ended up on the Taiwanese side of the table, so I was spared. They also gave us a present for answering their questions.
I had to cut out kinda early to go and meet Joe, but all and all it was a nice long day of fun hiking and meeting new people. I was getting tired, so I was just about ready for another long and strenuous work out getting lost trying to find our Couchsurfer after dark.
Joe made me wash the mud off my legs when he saw me at the train station, and then we had to fork over an extra few dollars b/c we left the luggage in there too long, but then we were able to get Ashley on the phone and got some pretty simple directions and we headed out. She was still at dinner, so we told her no rush, and we would pick up a few things along the way too (I didn't really get to eat too much because I had questions about traveling for most of the dinner, and thats a subject you really don't want to get me started on if your not interested, this blog, case in point.)
I get my own bed! Joe and I didn't really have time today to smooth over how rejected he has been feeling lately, so when he noticed that the sofa was more comfy that the guest bed, he took up camp in the living room. Ashley didn't mind because she had the nicest, biggest flat (covered in mirrors rather than wallpaper... kinda strange). She wasn't a fan of the mirror thing too, but she said you get used to it.
The next morning after sunrise (he tries to wake up before sunrise to commune with the trees) Joe crawled into the guest bed with me (hard not to notice since it really only was for one person), and I fell back asleep in his arms. This is my favorite way to make up, but it is also the most sweep under the rug way as well. Don't worry, it catches up to me in the end. Or maybe, that will make you worry more.