A Travellerspoint blog

Solution to the Global Economic Crisis...


(This video was given to us by Joe's older brother Nate. Thats right Nate, I'm not taking credit for finding this.)

Channa got up around 8am to bring in the new Couchsurfer. About 30 minutes later in came Carla. She was planning on staying in Taiwan a whole year and study Chinese. She told me that her reasoning for wanting to learn Chinese was lame, but eventually I got it out of her. She thought the characters were beautiful. Well, why do people like to learn French or Italian rather than German or Spanish? Because French and Italian sound beautiful. It is just an added bonus that most people who like the language also like the country.

We started telling her about our travels, and she told us that she was so glad that we didn't end up going to Mexico on the motorcycle. She was either part Mexican, and her parents travel back to Mexico with her often, and she said that even she wouldn't ride a bike though Mexico. So, there you have it.

Channa had to head out to a doctors appointment, and Carla had to be at a meeting about getting settled into Taiwan in a few hours, so until then she said she could walk around with us a bit while we did some last minute shopping before going to Japan. First on the list Joe wanted to get some new shoes. The first store we walked into we actually found the exact same sandals that I was wearing! These were the sandals I bought in the Sedona, and they even had the little Native Indian symbol on the heel of the hand with the swirl! However, they were $30, and I only got mine for $20 (but they were on sale from $80, but I think that was just the Sedona markup price). I contemplated it a long time, but in the end I decided to same the money. My sandals were pathetic looking, but they still functioned, and all I was going to do was destroy this new pair too. Then we stocked up on toiletries so we wouldn't have to pay Japan prices for those, and Carla had to head out.

Part 2: Internet. But wait, whats this? Theres magic in the air! Whats this? Theres music everywhere! Whats this?


In the window of this pet shop were the cutest puppies! I wish I had a video of Joe playing follow my hand up and down the glass with this white shaggy haired puppy. The atmosphere of the day just seemed to sing with the store keeper came back and opened the store. He let us unlock the cages, and at first the puppies were terrifies and ran away. Come on guys! You were so excited to lick the glass pretending it was really our fingers like two seconds ago! But then they warmed up to the idea, and Joe and I both fell absolutely in love with this little black one. It was the puppy I was trying to explain to Joe that I wanted all the way in the Boarders back in... what state was that? I had the car, and Joe had the bike, and Joe got really sick, and we got the churros at the Mexican Supermarket... this sounds like California. We looked at a dog book in California and I couldn't find this dog, but this was the Beany Buddy dog that I fell in love with and never knew what kind of dog it was. As it turned out, this was exactly the dog Joe wanted too. “Lets get him! Come on, lets just do it!” I'm pretty sure he was serious. “You see those people with the little dog carriers on planes! And it would be so good for him to go walking with us everyday while we tour!” “Yeah, and what about when the temples say no dogs, or there are signs on the metros, or the parks, and what about dog food, and dog poop?” “I've had a dog, I can do this.” He finished with his voice trailing off as if he knew what he was saying a part of him didn't even believe. “But when we settle down, we are getting this dog!” “Okay!” Then I told Joe that he had to give the white one in the other cage some love too b/c she was whimpering, and after he did that, the black one started making the cutest little barks! It was the first time any of them had made a sound, they were so well behaved! Anyways, enough about the dogs! I'm freaking out about them b/c it really was the highlight of our day.

Well, that, or maybe the store we stoped in next which had some magic in it as well, a decently priced battery for Joe's old as poo camera! Of course they had memorie sticks for it too, but a 256mb memory stick for his camera cost about 4 times as much as the 4GB stick for the newer models. So we settled for the battery, and guess what! Now we have enough batteries to use the zoom and flash again! With Joe's old battery some where in America we lost the ability to use either of those functions even with a newly charged battery. And to top it off, Joe's memory stick had failed somewhere in China and we could only access about ½ of the 128mb, which was great b/c that ass in Hawaii stole Joe's other memory card, but now with the new batterie all of the sudden the memory stick is allowing us to access the other half of the card! Now, back to the other half of reality (I don't want to say back to reality, because good things and happy things happen in reality too, we just forget that sometimes b/c the bad things are what we remember and what loom in our minds, darkening memories and seeping in to every other range of emotion causing a stillness to settle in like mixing paints from rainbow to dark brown).

We looked and we looked and we looked for internet. Walked into every coffee shop, including Starbucks, and we had no luck. Unfortunately I had already bought a coffee at that point, so we paid kinda for nothing b/c the coffee was really bad. It was my absolute favorite flavor, black sesame, which works amazing for frapaccinos, but toasts and feels like someone dropped dirt into your mug. The hot liquid did not mix with the sesame, so they just floated and swished around in an unnatural manner for blended coffee.

Posters outside of Starbucks:


Eventually we just broke down and went to the Insomnia cafe that was really expensive, but we knew had wifi.

Joe playing in the automated mist system:

Puppy art on the walls:

Then what happens after we order 3 beers b/c it was buy 2 get one free... we can't log on. We had the bar tender/ waiter guy helping us, and another girl trying to get us online, and it just wasn't working. She finally just told me to use her computer that was able to log on, so I did my business. Guess what? My mom emailed me, the JR pass to Japan was rejected b/c you can't sen JR passes to Japan! So they sent it to the NY office. Then the NY office called my mom. "Do you know you have one JR pass for 2 weeks and one for 3 weeks, being sent to different locations, do you want them both sent to you? And do you want them for different times?" "Yes!" My mom kept the times the way I had planned them, she tried to contact me about it, but we were not able to get her emails in time to help her make the decision. Then on a whim she gave them a call back the this night and sorted out evereything. She mentioned that Joe and I were flying out the next morning for Japan, and they guy made sure that the passes were approved and stamped by this evening, even though they were closing in 10 minutes! B/c if they weren't stamped in NY that evening, then the next day Joe and I would have landed in Japan before they opened (Japan really is the land of the rising sun) and the passes would have been invalid b/c they were stamped after we landed in the country! Thank god! Or my mother! Jesus Christ! (God again, my mom is Georgi), I would have been $1,000 less richer, and with no way of traveling around Japan! Yay for people who still want to talk with us back home after everything we've put them through!

Then quickly called Joe to come over to her table and get what he needed done. But when I went back to our Mac I noticed that it miraculous fixed its problem all by itself (b/c thats what Macs do), and we were online. I think Joe spent the next 3 or 4 hours on the computer, and again, I couldn't sit that long. So I went out shopping and I found Jem and the Hollogram's earrings at the night market! They were plastic crap, not just the red stars, but the park that sticks into your ear was crap plastic too, but they were only $1, so I figured if I loose them, I loose them. The point was I was going to be super cool for at least the next week or two. Now it was getting really late and I begged Joe to shoe me where he found the hair salons. Everyone talked me into getting a Taiwanese hair cut rather than a Japanese one b/c it would be ½ the price, and the same quality. But, after checkin out one salon and going to the Sholin salon, they told us to come back in the morning. Everything but the nigh markets in Taiwan close really early.

So we headed back to Channa's and found the two of them in starvation mode. Time for dinner! But where to go? None of us were making decisions, but then when the other would decide, we would all go, “Well, I don't really feel like that.” We walked to about 3 different places, realized that they were either only lunch or breakfast shops, and then headed to where Channa had suggested in the first place, Eddy's Burgers. It was like a TGI Fridays, but with only burgers on the menu. I thought Joe and I were going to split like usual, but I guess we really hadn't eaten much of anything all day, so we each got our own huge burger with a mountain of fries. It was so good! But way too much food! But it was so good! I think I decided not to eat for the rest of the week after that mistake. Joe coudn't even finsish my food for me to give me the excuse to not keep going. I was so high off of food that I knew I should go to sleep so I would be ready to leave for the airport early tomorrow morning, but I needed to work off this food. So Joe headed back to the apartment hoping that one of the roommates would let him in, and the 3 of us girls hit up the 7-11 for some alcohol. I really didn't want any more bread, even if it was only liquid bread (beer), so I got a really good vodka and grape juice, and we drank under one of those park awnings made out of a tree that vines over the pillars.

Here, this is what I'm talking about:


See? Make sense now? Come on, how would you describe it?

Posted by - Rain 05:06 Comments (0)

Girls Night In

Early continental breakfast, then more skyping wth my mom and Citi Bank. When it was time for check out, the deed was still not done, so Joe allowed me to have the laptop, check out, and then sit in the lobby wile using my computer, and he continued to work with my mom on the computer upstairs (pretty snazzy place to have personal computers on every floor with internet). He came down to ask me questions every now again, but then he headed right back up stairs where I had no way of reaching him b/c we weren't smart enough for us to both log onto skype or gmail so we could chat (whats wrong with us?) He ended up buying our plane tickets out of Japan, one for him on the 25th of June, and one for me on the 7th of July. We were thinking it would be good for me to get to spend more time in Japan, and for Joe to spend more time looking at colleges, so we tried to give me an extra 2 weeks, but we had to go with when the cheep flights were. Also, we thought the time apart would do us some real good, just like when he had his week in the wild in Arizona when I toured around New Mexico.

When we were finally ready to leave it was raining really hard, but I didn't mind too much b/c but my bum did start to hurt from sitting too long. I really couldn't believe that Joe could keep going so long either, b/c usually he is the first to poop out from a long day of lounging. Yesterday Channa send out an emergency couch request to her friends for us, and we had one response. We could have stayed with him last night, but we had no way of knowing that w/o a phone or internet, and if we stayed with him tonight we would have to leave his place at 7:30 am the next day b/c thats when he has to leave for work, and he couldn't host us the next night b/c his work was out of town. We only had 2 more days in Taiwan, and we were desperate, so we told Channa that we would stay with him Today, and maybe we could stay with her tomorrow? “Crappers guys, I have another couchsurfer coming in tomorrow, you remember, the one bringing me lush?” Channa had gotten a request from someone coming straight from the US, and Channa's face cream line Lush just stopped being sold in Taiwan. She needed its amazing organic goodness, so she told the girl that she could couchsurf, but she did have one request.

“But, if you guys don't mind both sleeping on the floor, you guys should totally stay with me tonight and tomorrow night.” I guess Sunday didn't really count as the weekend anymore, and, that settled that. Yay Channa! And in celebration the 3 of us went out for pizza dinner (very yummy, but expensive, and all 3 of us had to order something or they were going to kick us out of their half full restaurant). Afterwards we ploped down in front of the television and started watching Spiderman 4 (thats the one with the sand guy right? I can't remember a 3, so maybe this one was 3, whatever, it sucked), then on commercials which cut out really suddenly so at first you think your still watching the movie, we changed to In Her Shoes. I was the only one who had ever seen it, so I had to keep filling them in, and then Joe would struggle with the remote to turn off the twaddle, but Channa was hooked (what can I say, she was a girl, and it was a chick flick). The funny thing was that Channa isn't what you would call a chick flick kind of a girl, so the whole time she just kept calling out how lame it was, but at the same time she couldn't look away, and she couldn't stop asking me really interested questions. “So are they going to do it? They are aren't they, they are going to get it on tonight! Right?” “I'm not going to tell you.” “Look, just tell me so we can get over with it quicker.” “I don't really remember,” “Yes you do! Just please! Tell me! Do they Fuck!” “Yes, I know they do that, but I'm not sure if its this montage of dates or not.” “Okay then, thats all I asked.” Then True Lies came on, and we of course couldn't stop watching that one either.

The whole night we 3 were all bickering like old men. It was a blast! (BTW, I think the term is old women, but for some reason it just rolls of the tongue better this way.) Channa was freaking out on Joe for being a remote controller, I was freaking out on Channa about how she always says I should be more patient with him, then Joe was freaking out on Channa for asking too many questions, and I was freaking out on the movies about how I don't think Christin Dunst is pritty, only after Joe brought it up, and then moved onto how replacing Katie Holms with Maggie Jillinhal in Batman was a way bad idea. “You are beautiful!” Heath Ledger says to her as he circles her like a predator. “Yeah right! Maybe if you slept for a few months or got Opra's makeup artist to fill in those bags under your eyes!” But the worst of all is by far the mom in Tue Lies, I just hate that actress. Sure, she has a great body, especially for her age, but I just think there are way more talented and good looking people out there who would die for some of her roles. And thank god for Elisha Dushcue, who was also in True Lies, so I could say that I thought someone was talented and beautiful, even though she was still only like 13 at the time. And side note, “Did you know that she had a show called True Calling? Coincidence?” Whatever, it was a total girl night, and yes, I count Joe as one of us.

Posted by - Rain 05:01 Comments (0)

Belia, Day 2

Today we left for the train station fairly early in the morning to head back to Yilan. On our way from Taipei to Hualien we passed through Yilan, so we gave Belia a call and asked if we took a train to Yilan would she be up for hanging out? She emailed us back a little too late telling us that yesterday she was free the whole day, but today she had plans in the afternoon. But she said if we wanted to get an early start that we could catch some more really good vegan breakfast in Yilan, and then she could drive us into Taipei to go the the museum. This was the place that everyone kept telling us that we had to go see when we were in Taiwan because they have all the old Chinese artifacts that may have been lost after the cultural revolution if it wasn't for most of them being taken oversees to Taiwan.

But first, before breakfast, Belia took us back to her office for some real, real, real real real real real coffee.


Then she took us to a little shop where we got some rice milk and breakfast. Here we ran into some of her friends, and the one held an actual tea ceremony with us! He was really cool, and he had us drink hot water to clean our pallets, and then he would give us little little tea cups filled with tea he just brewed. Then when we finished he would refill our tea as his grandson kept trying to grab the tea pot. Belia eventually had to take him into her lap to keep him from burning himself. “How old are you?” Joe asked him in Chinese. The little boy wouldn't answer, but his grandmoth said that he was 2. I would have guessed 4 going on 5. They agreed that he was gargantuan for his age, and they blamed it on that his father is a milk drinker.

After breakfast Belia drove us back through the mountains into Taipei.


I love how everyone walks with umbrellas on sunny days like old England and how children and dogs can ride on the scooters just the same as a shit ton of boxes and luggage.


post man:




The Chinese would be appalled by this sign:


This is a restarunt:


power boxes:


7-11 (They are everywhere! Even in trees!)






The museum! And there were tons of people! Why are there so many people? Then Belia read us the sign. “Ohhhhh,” she said as she scrunched up her face. “This weekend is National Museum day.” The crapy part was we lost each other about 40 bajillion times and were pushed and prodded by throngs of people. The good think was that we got in for half off! (And yes, my money is again, worthless today.)


We couldn't take pictures inside, but you know what thats going to look like. Lots of glass boxes with pots, jewels, paintings, books and woodworking (ridiculously intricate woodworking though. I thought at one point that this box was made of ivory with a fine lace mesh inside lacing the walls. No, it was all ivory! Ivory carved down so fine and detailed that it looked like a flower designed lace). So least for the ivory section, it wasn't anything that you wouldn't expect. Our favort wood carvings was the one called “Life's 4 Greatest Pleasures.” They were 4 individually carved little men. One was stretching his arms out real wide, the other was picking his ear, another scratching his back, and the last was digging for gold... in his nose.

About 15 minutes into the museum Belia mentions that we maybe should buy the headphones everyone else was wearing to get the full detail about what is in the exhibits (that, and have a detailed English translation). I told her that I was fine, but Joe you could tell wanted them. So after a little moving the head side to side with squinted eyes, he told her that he would really like that. So we ran back downstaris, got the headphones, and then ran back upstairs where Joe immediately takes control of his newly acquired map of where the audio will play, and we had to go exactly in order to make sure that we didn't miss a thing! This method of seeing the meuseum ended up taking a very long time, and so we didn't make it out of the museum until almost 4pm which was when Belia had to leave to make it to the next city over where she was meeting her husband for dinner.


“We have time,” she insisted and took us to lunch. But, the vegetarian restaurants she tried were all closed already for the after lunch pre dinner setup. “Don't worry!” She told us, and she drove us to Costco's. I thought that we were going to split some bulk food for lunch, but then she took us to the mall right next door. “As long as we spend $1 at one of the shops in this parking area, parking is free!” So we parked at the Costco's and she took us to the mall food court. Then she asked us where we were staying. Well, Channa couldn't take us in on the weekend, and we were still waiting to hear back from Ashley's boyfriend about couchsurfing with him. This was unacceptable for Belia, so she ran out to the car, got her laptop, and started searching the internet for a hostel. But, all the ones she called were booked. “Belia, don't worry about us, we can stay in the hotel we stayed at last time near our friend Channa's place. Then we will stay with her tomorrow. Go meet you husband!” She was hesitant, but I finally convinced her that we weren't all together helpless, but she said that she had to at least drop us off at the metro. Us with Bilia just outside the metro:


Joe had to go to the bathroom, so I waited for him inside the station. 10 minutes later, we were ready to go. About 30 of traveling went by when Joe realized that he left his secret pouch in the bathroom! “How! How could you loose that!” He takes the lanyard off when he gos #2 to keep it from sitting in his lap, but then he forgot to put it back on! It had his passport and all his money and important things in it! But his passport! Not again! And now it was getting late and we wouldn't make it to the hotel before it was probably booked too! Joe had a plan. We were goig to split up. He would go back to the first station, and I would go onto the next station where the hotel was. In Taiwan you pay for your exit, so as long as Joe never left the station, we wouldn't have to pay again (not that it really mattered at this point). He said that he would meet me at the hotel.

When I got to the hotel, the only room they had left was the Family suit. Fuck! I walked outside and sat next to the building. All the other hotels around here were more expensive than this one! And this one was already pushing it! for about 15 minutes I freaked out about what to do. When would Joe be here? How can I contact him to meet me somewhere else? Where should we go? I calmed down and walked right back into the hotel and asked her (knowing what the answer was last time), if there were any other hotels around, cheeper or not. She gave me directions for 2 different hotels, one in each direction. As I power walked to the first hotel I got out my American phone and called my mom. $3 a minute be damned! “Can you find out if there is a hotel with space available in Taipei?” We kept it short, and I explained to her that Joe may have also lost his passport, so that was why I was freaking out a little more than necessary with this hotel thing. After about 20 minutes I found the hotel, and it was actually about $10 cheeper than the one we stayed at last time, and they had space. “Can you hold this for me while I go to an ATM?” Sure, they said, and I booked it back to the first hotel. “Mom, I got a room for $55.” “Great, all I could find was $80.” She told me to call her when I know if Joe has his passport. Back at the hotel Joe was surfing on their internet for hotels. “I thought you'd come back, so I just waited here.” “Great! Lets go! I have a hotel holding a room in walking distance or we can waste money on one stop on the subway.” Joe agreed to walk, and we had a slight feasco trying to find an ATM that 1. Was in service, and 2. took Visa (not everywhere I want to be... but close. Good job guys. Way to be the McDonalds of credit cards).

The hotel had resonantly priced beer in the fridge, so I had one while I took a bath! This was the first bathtub I had seen in over 3 months! It even had the curvature of the tub to have an nice angle for your head to rest! Joe, on the other hand, had some credit card problems of his won to deal with. He was on the internet with my mom, skyping with his citi card customer service, pretending that she was his mother attempting to help him unlock his internet account so he can access his money over seas. Yeah, if that didn't throw up a red flag of SCAM, then Citi just wasn't doing its job. However, thats all the props I can give them b/c I don't know how many times after this phone call they told Joe that everything would be working in an hour, or by the next morning, and it never was.

Taiwan Chinglish of the trip:

Delicious in Agile

Posted by - Rain 04:39 Comments (0)

This – Is – Cake Town!

Today is our last day with a scooter, so of course we took it back to the gorge.

Leaving Hualien:


Doesn't Joe look like one of the guys from 300? (- 4 packs)


We had this temple all to ourselves for about an hour, so we filmed 4 of the Daoist postures, The 2 red birds and the 2 black turtles:


Then, back on the bike for maybe 5, 10 minutes, then as if a jolt of lightning just struck Joe (and conveniently avoided me), the scooter came to a screeching halt!


Joe: "Waterfall!"


Here we are at 9 Turns Trail. It used to be for driving traffic, but then they decided that the cars were spoiling the view for all the hikers. So they built another tunnel into the mountain that is closed off from the gorge so people could walk the gorge without breathing in exhaust gasses. Also, this section of the gorge is famous for the special wind current that blows through it causing the birds to act like daredevils riding the waves.


Then on the way back into town to turn the bike back in Joe needed to make a pit stop to see this one of these ridiculously bright looking temples. We've seen them scattered along the coast as we took the train, and we've seen them as we drive past on the bike, but we have yet to see one of these Taiwanese temples, so while we still had our freedom to go where we please, we went.


After turning in the bike we walked to this cafe and Joe got a typical Chinese dinner and I got waffles and fruit! It only came with half of a waffle (what did they do with the other half?) and a few slices of fruit with some melted ice cream rather than the huge plate of waffles loaded with a fruit salad, but it was still better than eating any more fried food. Sure waffle makers can be considered frying, but they are not deep frying at least, so I was happy. And we got the best banana milk and papaya milk smoothies! I'm pretty sure that after we ate at this place, even though we were only staying in Hualien maybe one more day, that we got banana milk and papaya milk smoothies about 3 or 4 more times.

Back at the hostel we realized that we had gotten back kinda late to move our stuff to the other dorm. Last night we moved into the 6 person dorm again b/c our single room was booked for the rest of our stay by the couple from Singapore, but tonight we had to move to the 10 person dorm b/c a group of kids from Taipei university booked the whole room like 2 months ago. When got back though the girl who was working there (the hostel lady's first day off in a week!) had already put our things in the 10 person dorm for us (up 3 flights of stairs, I felt kinda bad). But she didn't seem to mind, and was in fact more worried that we would be upset that she moved our things. I didn't mind. She missed a bag or tow, but that wasn't a problem.

This evening Joe was really set to “party” so he awkwardly asked some guys if they were “partying tonight.” Then he said that he was almost done with the computer, so we could go out soon. I cringe at the thought. I suppose it was Joe's awkward social interaction with strangers was one of the things that attracted me to him after a while. At first I found him ridiculous shy, so much so that when Marge, our Kung Fu schools most senior student, asked me to see if I could get Joe talking and part of the group... I really didn't want to. “Why me?” “Because you are always breaking the ice with everyone! I've never seen you not go up to some brand new person and treat them like you've know them your whole life.” “Yeah, but I've talked to Joe... he's kinda off a bit.” (As I discover later, he thought I was mentally unstable, touche.) Then I got to know him, and started to get him to come over “The Kent House” (the place where me and my 5 closest friends lived) for parties, and watching him try to make friends was endearing. My favorite line of his was when we were teaching him to play Never Have I Ever. We shouldn't have let him be the first one to do it, but he pulled the fist Jack, which for those rules, meant you had to play Never Have I Ever. Joe: “Never Have I Ever... eaten 5 pounds of food.” We all stared at him in wonder (what was he thinking?), and so he elaborated. “All at one sitting!” This didn't make it any better. So then Laura gave him an example, and if I have ever seen Joe blush, it was right then. Anyways, I really digress.

Now I don't find it so nice because at parties when he would say things in a strange manner, we just thought Joe was strange. But now, if he says something on this trip, it is immediately reflected upon me. Nobody looks at the two of us sitting at the table together and thinks, wow, whats up with that guy? They look at both of us and thin, wow, whats up with those two? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I was facing them and saw the leaned in whispering after Joe turned back around to work on the computer. And to top it off, I didn't even want to “party.” Joe likes partying when we fight, while I... I don't like anything while we fight. I guess thats just one of the many things thats pulling us apart, these small differences that get in your face when you spend 24-7 (does this line of blogging sound familiar? Southwest trip? Maybe?)

We didn't end up going out with those two guys b/c I got to talking with one of the student's from Taipei University, Ala I believe, and made it pretty simple for us to tag along for dinner. We wanted to find a good restaurant to eat at, but we got lost a bit and ended up at a vegetarian attempting to order some meat. Then when we figured that one out we ordered some fried rice (well, the Swedish guys and the French girl did), and they came out with a huge bowl of soup, which may have been fine if they didn't just eat a bunch of really bad soup for lunch. I saw the look in their eyes, the look that says I'm so hungry, and I don't speak the language, and I really was excited about the fried rice, and I would really almost eat anything but soup right now! I singled to them not to make any more, and that the one was fine.

After an uncomfortable dinner where only half of us ate we ended up going to McDonalds. “I hate being that foreigner, you know?” Ala said, and I couldn't agree more. So I took my chance to hide from the crowd at the counter and I went upstairs to use the restroom. I got stuck. Inside the stall with a door that only had about ½ opening at the top, and about the same on the bottom, and no openings along the walls, I was stuck. I couldn't figure out how to open the door. I was panicking! Claustrophobia set in like the evil menace it always is, on top of not wanting to be that foreigner knocking on the door for help w/o knowing how to say help, or I'm locked in; and even if I could get that across, I wouldn't be able to follow their instructions on how to get out! Then I had visions of getting stuck on the bathroom ground trying to pull myself through the opening under the door. “Yeah, if you didn't eat so much McDonalds, maybe you would fit!” I could see them say, and I wouldn't even know that was what they were saying because it would be in Chinese. I was all alone in the bathroom a the moment, and I was ready to do the only thing I could think of. I was going to tear this mother fucking door down! I started with the lock. It was circular with a rectangular hole cut into it. I tried turning the circle by placing my fingers into the rectangular hole and twisting. I could feel plastic start to crack under the pressure. But it wasn't enough, I would really have to tear into it to break it, and then I might really be locked in. So I calmed myself, thought rationally. Sure, it was an unfamiliar lock and handle, but there was a way to get it to work. I reached my hand inside the hole again and felt for something. Something to pull, something to push, something to unlatch, and on the far left side of the hole I felt that the plastic was a different texture than the other inner walls. I couldn't see it b/c it was about an inch deeper to the left of the opening, but I applied pressure to it, and it gave way! Pushing harder the door unlocked, and I rushed to the sink to splash my face with cold water. I felt the room spin a little, and then I was okay. Outside at the table Joe had a McFlurry for us to split, and the world was a little less scary.

Posted by - Rain 06:45 Comments (0)

The Cliffs

Back on the bike! We had a late start this morning as usual, so we ran out to the 7-11 and got us some yogurt, bread rolls, and 100% juice blend boxes, then rented our scooter around noon again so we would have it for this afternoon and for tomorrow morning. Today's agenda, to make it up the coast this time towards the cliffs, and then head back towards town stopping at the Taroko Gorge if we still had some time before dark.


The cliffs ended up being amazing! And the drive was windy and exciting just like HW 1 in California, so I'm really glad I talked Joe into not skipping the cliffs just because yesterday's drive down the coast wasn't as good as the gorge. In fact, the cliffs were so good, Joe gave them the honor of preforming the only other form he ever created, Warrior Vanquishes 2 Spirits. (The only other location that was so amazing to have Joe want to preform on of his own, was Bryce Canyon.)

In practice, it can be done as a single person form, or a 3 person form. While he was creating the form I would stand in as the Taikuando fighter, and Justin was Mui Tai.


Along the coast there were sometimes 2 tunnels, and the one closest to the water was usually the one roped off as being dangerous. We wanted to take a stop and look at the old tunnel, and we found this rail ripped and bent hanging over the side of the cliff, as if to tell us why this tunnel may not have been the safest place to drive your car. So...


I like to call this one my modern art my accident:

Caption at the museum in my head:
What does your perception imagine is going on in the picture above?

Look how dirty our faces got just by driving for a few hours. Joe looks like he's been working in a mine.


Cop face:


Demonstration of highway safety:


Then we got about as far as we believed the cliffs to have gone after we hit a long stretch of normal straight road next to a hilly shore, so it was time to get back to the gorge! The hostel owner told us that there used to be a hot spring that flowed right into the gorge that people could visit and swim in, but after the typhoon of 2005 they deemed the pathway to the hot spring too dangerous for tourists. However, she said that it is really easy to hop the fences blocking the stairs so she has been there several times since, and it is really nice because you usually have the place all to yourself since you can get arrested for trespassing. So of course, Joe needs to swim in it. The last hot spring he got to go into was at Yellowstone (I just wrote Yellowspring instead of Yellowstone). It was this hot spring that forced us to reschedule my appointment for a week later to get my cast off my broken arm, and this spring that caused us to sleep on the softest grass ever that turned out to have an industrial sprinkler system, and this spring that forced me to call my sister Brittany and tell her that I broke up with Joe and now he is being a huge bum about it b/c I was bringing down his hot spring high. So... I was not going to protest to Joe that we shouldn't break the law b/c its only a hot spring. But, it was a bit further down the gorge than we made it last time, so if we were going to make it there before night fall, we really had to book it.


We passed up everything we stopped at our first time, and realized that we made really good time to a point we had never seen yet. So we calmed down a bit and allowed ourselves to take some still shots. At this bridge we ran into an ABT who wanted to know if he took a pic of us, if we would do the same for him. Then we got to talking and it turned out he was also traveling to the hot spring. Oh well, so much for privacy.


We ended up chilling out at this bridge checking out its pagoda and different views of the gorge a bit to let him get ahead of us just in case he only wanted to see the hot spring, and not actually get in, so by the time we got there, maybe he might already be gone. That, or we would have the awkward task of getting naked in front of someone already covered by running currents of water.


When we got to the bridge named after the hot spring, we weren't sure if this was the right place. But Joe parked the bike and we wondered a little ways into the tunnel to see the sign that was outside one of the tunnel's ventilation doorways. The sign said, in several different languages so you couldn't play the innocent foreigner, that this was once the path to the hot spring but it is now condemned and anyone found trespassing would be finned $250 for first time offenders, then more for your second offense, and then over $1,000 for your third offense with the possibility of jail time. So... we headed down the stairs. We walked all the way down maybe 3 or 4 stories to a small building that people used to use to shower off in and lock up their clothes and shoes. Then we curved around a bend and had to climb back up about half way to a rope bridge. The stairs were mostly okay as long as you were mindful that they were hit my a typhoon, but the bridge, I was getting cold feet. But then we saw that the kid we met wasn't at the hot spring, but 4 other people, 2 of whom looked like they may have been cancer patients because they were bald and the 2 women with them carried them from the cold river to the hot spring, then back again which looked like some sort of natural heeling treatment. So I figured, if they could make it across, then I guess the bridge was safe enough.

At the hot spring the 2 women said hello to us in Chinese, and seemed okay with us being there, but kinda disappointed at the same time. (I knew the feeling) Joe took off his shirt, and I took off my pants, but that was as far as we were going for the moment. One of the women had a swimsuit, but everyone else was going into the spring in a t-shirt and caprices. Then we noticed that the 2 bald people were women monks with the 6 tots on the top of their heads. They were meditating in the smoking hot water that was closed off from the cold river water by circles of rocks, and then they would occasionally be carried from the hot water and plunged straight into the cold river water usually under this one rapid that formed a bit of a waterfall, and their face never changed from calm meditation.

To get to the area the hot spring was flowing into the river where the 4 women were hanging out you had to climb down about 4 or 6 steps on this rope ladder, but the woman in the t-shirt motioned for us to check out the cave that was on the same level we were on, so we decided to go there first. It was a little cave with a hot spring waterfall that formed into a bath!


That was Joe trying to dip his feet into the pure, undiluted hot spring. It was scalding! I could barley get my toe wet and was even sweeting just being in the little cave.


We realized that we couldn't handle the heat, so we headed back to the little rope bridge, and I got off some shots of the area, and one shot of the monks when they weren't looking. I knew it was rude to take pictures of them meditating, but I figured that as long as they didn't know about it then it wouldn't be disruptive. They saw me move around to the other side of where they were and take pictures of the gorge, but the moment I turned around to come back, they were pointing at the camera, and freaking out. “Do you speak Chinese?” the woman in the swim suit asked. “A little” Joe answered. She started speaking in rapid Chinese, and Joe obviously couldn't fallow along. “Do you speak Japanese?” Joe nudged me, “What?” “She is talking to you in Japanese.” “No she's not.” “Do you speak Japanese?” I heard it that time, but I could barley grasp what she was trying to say. “I can speak a little Japanese, but speak slowly.” Slowly she started talking to me in Japanese, and I didn't recognize a singe word. Shashin = picture, tote = take, stop = yamate, please = kudasai, simple words that I know, and ones that she should have mentioned, but I didn't catch a single one. I used them when I explained to her that I was taking pictures of the water, and that I would not take pictures of them, and she seemed to agree with this. The monks joined in on agreeing with me that it was okay for me to take pictures of the water, but not of them. And I kept telling them that I understood, but they kept telling me over and over again with Chinese words Joe didn't catch, and Japanese words I didn't know either, only that the woman who spoke Japanese would agree with what I said let me know that I understood her sign language. But they wouldn't let it go, even after I put the camera away, so I started to get a little upset, especially since I was going to Japan next week and didn't even recognize a word this woman was saying to me. “I understand, do you? Do you understand what I am saying?” I think the woman got the hint that I wasn't appreciating her judging me, even though she was right, I knew she had no way of knowing I got off a shot of them, and now I was really sorry that I did. It wasn't something that I was planning on like something maniacal that I knew I shouldn't do, but something like if a Chinese person came to France and saw a bunch of priests in a river baptizing someone, they would want to take pictures. Look at this strange cultural thing I saw that I'd like to remember. They wouldn't do it when the priest was looking not to be sneaky, but to be respectful that they hare holding a ceremony not a show. Anyways, I wasn't sad too see them start to pack up after about 15 more minutes to say the least. I would have felt bad to interrupt their spiritual clenching ritual if they were real monks, but after seeing the desperate need and anger about the camera in the one monks eyes, I felt that she was more self righteous than anything else. The other monk I felt bad for because she never broke meditation to yell at us for doing something we hadn't even done in their eyes. I don't even think she would have minded if she did see us get off a shot or two. It may have hurt her feelings to be on display if we were like the paparazzi, but I think even then all she would do would be hold up a hand and shake her head slowly, then maybe hold her hands in a prayer when she saw that we had stopped, and to go really far, maybe even bow to show how gracious she was for us following her wishes.

Anyways, they changed into their light indigo/ powered blue monk clothes and they were about to head up the stone stairs that you had to use a rope to climb up because the stairs were now more like a ramp, but they stopped to come back and yell at us again! “Hot Spring! Water! Hot Spring! Water!” The woman who was in the swimsuit earlier yelled as she pointed to the area inside the rock circles, then to the river. Joe and I were moving the rocks that were in place to allow some more of the river water to mix with the hot spring water because it was still way too hot for us to get into, and even though these women were leaving, they still had this idea that this area was theirs. “I understand.” I told her, and I stared at her as she started going off on me in some language that I decided was her version of Japanese. I no nonger felt bad about my Japanese capability because I realized that she was speaking Japanese with a Chinese accent. Her Japanese vocabulary was much vaster than mine, and her grammar was probably fluent, but I had a feeling that in Japan people would still understand me better than her. (Can you tell that I really, really, really disliked these people? It is kinda like when you revere “the cloth” and then you find out that the priest you just met was a child molester. Its not as sever a case obviously, but I was really excited to be in the presence of these hard core monks, then only to discover that even though they shaved their heads and wore the right clothes and ate only enough to survive... they still didn't have it in them. Well, the one did, but thats only 50% of the monks I've met. I was just disillusioned, and I didn't like it).

I gave up and I put the rocks back and we waited for them to get out of eyesight. We watched them cross the rope bridge, and we waited about 5 min. Then, just as we couldn't take it any longer, Joe and I were completely naked. Of course he stripped down to his underwear while the monks were still here and in the water, so he didn't have much to loose, but I refused to piss them off that much even though I disliked them, so I waited to take anything else until they were gone, if they ever left.

But at this time it was already sundown, and I really didn't want to be caught in the dark trying to navigate though typhoon destroyed paths, stairs, and rope bridges. “5 more minutes” Joe must have said at least 3 or 4 times. It sucked that we had to wait for these women to leave before we could use the hot spring, but it was what it was, an we really couldn't soak in the water for very long before dark. As it was, when Joe finally agreed that it was getting late, we had to use the built in spot light on my video camera as a flashlight to guide our way.

Then some speedy night driving through the gorge, and we made it out of the gorge in about 30 minutes. The city was still about another 45 minutes away, but at lest there were street lights now, so the night driving part wasn't so bad anymore. We also got to see Joe's favorite factory at night all light up with security lights, and he couldn't help but think how cool it would be to have watersides through all the tubes paired with a paintball tournament around the factory. (Video games don't make peole more violent, they just warp our concept of reality.)

Posted by - Rain 06:22 Comments (0)

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