Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Made It...

This past weekend, we set out for our first scooter adventure. We had read about a tea museum not far from out city and wanted to check it out. If you haven't already learned, tea is a huge part of the Taiwanese (and many other Asian countries) culture. There are particular ways in which tea is to be prepared, and different teas are drunk for different reasons. With all of this in mind, we downloaded a map and set out.

Our first snag was in locating Baoshin Road, or Baoxan Road, or Baosin Road....see how we could be a bit confused?!? We took the wrong turn nearly 3 times before we backtracked and happened to find the street after Baoshin which was Shuangyuan (again seeing a variety of spelling along the way). This lead us through the beautiful countryside where we saw numerous gardens, rice fields, and a variety of temples and homes. The road eventually spat us out on what we beleived to be the next road in the directions. We began to follow it into town in search of the address of the museum. When we reached the end of the town, we realized that we were actually in the wrong town (Toufen instead of Jhunan). So we wandered around a bit until we saw a sign that said "Central Jhunan ->." Aha, we were finally headed in the right direction, or so we thought.

By this time in was nearing 1pm and our stomachs were telling us to stop and eat. We found a roadside stand and ordered some new eats. Enjoyed them on the steps of a bank along with some tea from 7-11 (I've never shopped so much at a convenience store!). At this point, we decided to just begin the trek back home leisurly, so as to not be out past dark.

Mix and match your choice of ingredients, then the cook throws it all in flour, and deepfrys it! Yummy!
The finished product.

We re-traced our route only to miss our turn out of Toufen and continue on...little did we know that 100ft beyond out turn would be the museum. That's right, we found it...after many miles of traveling out of our way, we indeed were able to visit this museum. It happens to be on the grounds of the Ten Ren Tea factory and there are a number of buildings for tourists to visit. They have 2 restraunts, a tea house/gift shop, a tea stand, and ofcourse the museum. Thankfully much of the museum was in English as well as Chinese.

We spent a few hours wandering around, enjoying some tea in the cool autumn weather. Then we headed home as we were nearing dusk. All in all, we had a wonderful day. We were so very thankful to finally find our destination, but the adventure leading up to it was also wonderful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Weekend of Firsts.

This past weekend, we experienced a number of firsts here in Taiwan.

1. First Doctor visit - Friday afternoon, I had a fever and wasn't feeling well. When I went to talk to the Director, I was reassured that they would cancel my classes but that I should go to the doctor right away. Being the type of person who rarely goes to the doctor, even when I need to, was like "no, no, I just need to sleep, I'll be okay tomorrow." Then I was told that if I canceled my classes the day of, I would not only be penalized (standard procedure) but I would have to make up these classes without pay. However, if I went to the doctor and returned a doctors note, I would be able to make up these hours with pay. The other issue with seeing a doctor, was that we had yet to receive our insurance....I, of course, was concerned about the cost involved with the visit. After some discussion involving the location of the clinic and costs involved, I was taken there by a secretary at the school. The visit lasted less than 5 minutes-from the minute I walked in the door to the minute I walked out, medicine in hand-and cost only $12US!! I went home and slept, knowing that this was truly what I needed. Saturday morning, I slept in and by noon was feeling mostly like myself again.

2. First Movie - Saturday evening we were able to meet up with our American friends from LA. We met near the train station and took a free shuttle to a new department store FE21 (new to us anyways). We wondered aimlessly through the store for a while, trying to find out way to the top floor where we were told the movie theater was located. There were a number of escalators and elevators, but they were strategically placed and would only allow access to certain floors. We eventually found the food court, where we enjoyed some wonderful Italian pasta then headed up to the theater. We decided on two movies that would be good, but chose "The Informant" as it had an earlier show time.

3. First time being lost - After our movie - which we loved - we headed out of the mall. Unfortunately, because all the shops were closed (it was midnight) we were ushered out a different entrance than we used to get into the building. Once we found the front of the building, we were confronted by the fact that the free shuttle that we had taken to the mall was no longer running. Feeling adventurous, this didn't concern us...Susannah luckily had a map, so we headed out to find the bus stop. Of course our lack of reading Chinese and the confusing directions, we soon realized we were going the wrong way. We turned around and back tracked, only to find that we in fact were headed in the correct direction the first time! Once finally arriving at the bus stop, we were faced with yet another challenge as the city buses cease to run beyond 10:30pm! Even on Saturday night! Feeling defeat, and knowing that there was no way we'd be able to walk home, we hailed a cab. After Susannah was dropped off near her house, we took the cab a little longer...only as far as we could explain to the cab driver. Unfortunately, were we were left off was 2.5km from home (1.5miles). So we walked. And walked. And walked. Once we finally arrived home, we were ready to crash!

4. First bike ride - Sunday afternoon we headed to Nanliao. This is the location of Hsinchu Harbour and the beginning of a 17km bike trail that follows the coast south. We rented bicycles for the day (only $8US) and headed out. It was a lovely afternoon to spend outside, not too hot, not too cold, and a wonderful breeze coming off the ocean. Once we headed the end, we stopped for an afternoon snack (or a late lunch!) - fried rice noodles - they were oh, so yummy after a long trek. After devouring our meal, we headed back north to Nanliao. Unfortunately, the ride back was much more difficult for a number of reasons. One, it was getting dark, so everyone was headed back. The pathway is only made for two bicycles, one in each direction, however the path was 3, 4, even 5, bicycles wide at times. Secondly, our bums were super sore. These bikes were not built to fit us, the seats were either too high or too low, and the handle bars were too far away. Dan's seat actually began to loosen and was moving around the entire ride back. Despite being a little uncomfortable, we thoroughly enjoyed the ride, we really miss our bicycles though!

5. First ARC - Yes, finally! We are officially ALIENS! (Alien Residents that is.) So now that we have our cards, we can open a bank account, get insurance, and get a cell phone.

6. First Bank Account - This too was not the easiest experience as there was some confusion as to why Dan and I wanted a joint account and how we could not want the various "extras" available with out ATM card. After about an hour, we were able to leave with another item checked off our list!

And last, but not least, our first broken camera...hence the lack of photos on this post! We have been in the market for a new camera, but weren't planning on buying just yet. The camera we're interested in is to be released this month, hopefully by November we'll have a new one!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Learning Chinese...

We began Chinese lessons two weeks ago. We're taking lessons here at David's English Center with one of our co-workers - she's actually my co-teacher. She teaches not only English but Japanese and Chinese as well! Apparently, once we've mastered Chinese, Japanese won't be very difficult...I think we'll stick with learning one language for now!

We have purchased two books to aid in our learning. When we first arrived we found a book that teaches us how to write and recognize Chinese Characters, New Chinese Characters for Beginners. We started to memorize 3-5 characters a week, until we were about 10 characters into the book and realized that we were pronouncing the characters incorrectly. That's when we heard about bopomofo or zhuyin which is the use of additional characters to represent the phonetic spelling of mandarin. The use of bopomofo is limited to here in Taiwan where it is used to teach children to read. Most children's books use bopomofo, which is strictly to help pronounce the word correctly but does not aid in the understanding of the word. Above you can see the bopomofo (named after the first 4 symbols) next to the equivalent pinyin spelling. Pinyin is another phonetic alphabet using roman letters and is widely used in both Taiwan and other Chinese speaking countries. In addition to a number of other romanizations, Pinyin is used on street signs and store fronts. Unfortunately, there is no consistency among cities, counties and sometimes even small communities in the form of romanization used. This is where our struggles with maps have been happening! The other confusing part of Pinyin is that while it uses familiar roman letters, these letters to not always represent the same sounds as they do in english. For instance, X makes a ks sound in English, while in Pinyin is an sh sound.

Needless to say, we realized at this point that we needed to learn bopomofo to assist in our correct pronunciation of Chinese characters. So we asked around and learned that our school teaches Chinese lessons to a number of foreign business men and women working in the Science Park and were offered a class at a reduced rate. We decided to go with it and are now meeting with our teacher once a week for an hour and a half. We purchased a workbook that we are beginning to work through with our teacher Nana. The book, Practical Audio-Visual Chinese, begins with bopomofo and basic conversation.

So far we've memorized the 36 symbol alphabet of bopomofo with the aid of flashcards, a very childish workbook, and their version of the ABC song.

Fruits of the Week

In the midst of a busy few weeks, I failed to share our fruit of the week...opps...today I'll catch you up!


We first tried papaya a few weeks ago, however, lately we've been enjoying it on salads and sandwiches at a new breakfast place.

The papaya is a medium sized orange fruit. It has an outer skin similar to that of an apple, however, as it ripens, it leaks juices from the fruit that begin to crystallize on the skin.

Begin by cutting the fruit in half down the center.

The inside is hallow but filled with little black seedpods...these remind me of the tapioca bubbles found in bubble tea. The seeds of the papaya are in fact edible, however they have an almost spicy taste to them.

The seeds are scooped out and thrown away, along with the soft, almost like the inside of a pumpkin, wet and kind of stringy.

Then using a spoon, scoop out the fruit and enjoy.

The flavor of the papaya is a pleasant mix of melon, mango, coconut, and banana. It's a soft fruit that almost melts in your mouth.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fruits of the Week


This fruit is often part of the Moon Festival celebration. This is the time of year when the Pomelo is freshest. It is a little bigger than a grapefruit, with a similar fruit. It is customary to extract the fruit in such a was as to preserve the skin for a hat!

We received two fresh pomelo's from our Chinese teacher. She wrote our names in Chinese as well as a Moon Festival message on each.

The first step in eating a Pomelo is to cut off the top of the fruit. Though the fruit is more of an oblong shape, the fruit is actually a round shape like an orange.

Next, you cut 3 or 4 slices down the sides of the skin. Be sure not to cut all the way into the fruit, only cut the skin.

Once you've cut your slits, pull the skin away from the fruit.

Finally, pull the fruit completely out of the skin. Now you can begin to peal the fruit away from the pulp and enjoy.

The fruit is similar to that of an orange or a grapefruit, though it's much sweeter. The pulp however is very bitter, making it quite difficult to eat. Maybe this is why they only eat the fruit once a year!

It is important that you sport the Pomelo hat while you're eating this delicious fruit!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Can't Be Stopped...

Nothing can stop us from enjoying our time in Taiwan...not even rain! Which that it did the entire weekend spent in Keelung. From the minute the train left Taipei it began raining and it was still raining 36 hours later when we loaded the train to head home. But that didn't stop us from seeing and doing at least some of what we wanted to do...in fact the rain led to a few unexpected surprises.

When we arrive in any new place, we head straight to the hotel in order to drop our bags and plan out our course of action. This was were we started this weekend as well...which was a little more difficult than last as our guide book did not have any hotel suggestions and all the information we could find was in Chinese. We lucked out and the first we one we wondered into was a steal - NT$700 for a night - that's about $21US! After dumping our things and looking through out tourist information, we set out to find the fish market and the harbour where we could catch a boat out to Keelung Island - one of the reasons we came to this city.

We took a twenty minute bus ride to Bisha Harbour where we were encountered the biggest, smelliest, and busiest fish market we had ever seen. Dan was in heaven....if you don't already know, he loves fish - dead or alive! There were fish, snails, crabs, lobsters, and many more unidentified sea creatures, some alive and in takes, others dead on ice, and even more cooked and ready to eat.

After walking around a while and getting some great pictures, we decided to try one of the restaurants. It wasn't hard to find one as there were women everywhere showing us menu after menu trying to entice us to eat at their restaurant. We decided that the best course of action would be to just pick one and hope for the best. So, pick one we did, and it sure was quite the adventure. First the woman handed us a menu - entirely in Chinese - then took us to the tanks of live fish and pointed - she too only spoke Chinese. We were under the impression that this was to assist in our order, we'd point to the fish we'd like and she'd show us on the menu...WRONG. We pointed to the lobster, both wanting to try this for the first time, and what does she do but grab a net, dip out the lobster and put it on a scale. Then she picked it up again and shoved it into a black bag, she walked us into the dining area, showed us a table and proceeded to walk the poor lobster-in-a-bag back into the kitchen. As, I'm sure you can imagine, all we could do was laugh, we had no idea what our meal would be like, but hey, it was a learning experience right!?

Our meal came in two parts, a brothy soup that contained the shell of the lobster and a salad with the lobster meat on top. We were surprised at how little meat there actually was inside the lobster - that is of course, if they served us the entire thing, which we'll never know.
After our meal - which was unnecessarily expensive - we boarded the bus back into town as it was still raining and we were unable to find the boat to take us to Keelung Island. We decided that we'd try again on Sunday if the weather turned out to be any better.

Back in town, we tried to visit a few museums, all of which were closed for the night. Then headed down to the famous Night Market. Unfortunately, this was short lived as we were grouchy because of the rain and the lack of consideration people have when carrying umbrellas. Truly there were just too many people in the streets to make it a pleasant experience. After wondering around a few times in search of some dinner, we had decided to head back to the hotel when we saw a sign for the famous Taiwanese foot massages. We had read about these massages, both wonderful and painful, in our new Taiwanese culture book - Taiwan A to Z by Amy C Liu a must read for anyone living in or in love with Taiwan. We had decided that this was a must do while we were in Taiwan.

There was a sign on the window that read, what I can only assume to be "40 minute Foot Massage, $500NT." I know this because all I did when we entered was to point at this sign, and this is what we got! We were asked to take off our shoes, and hang up our jackets, before we were ushered to a foot bath of warm water and beautiful oils. This felt amazing after a long day trekking around in our water shoes in the rain. After the foot bath, we were taken to a comfortable recliner where they served us warm water and began our massage. As warned, this massage was both wonderful and painful. As you can see from the picture, your foot has pressure points that supposedly correspond to different parts of your body. It is believed that through the proper foot massage, one can learn about ailments in their body and treat them. There were knots in my foot that I didn't know could exist, but the masseuse was able to point to his body and gesture where something might be wrong in my body. Most was rather surprising as he pointed to my neck and head often and my lower back, which is indeed where I have pain due to crooked and short bones. But when he pointed to my stomach and my knee, I was at a loss. The massage, which was nearly 45 minutes ended left us feeling refreshed and relaxed.

We were sad to have to put our yucky shoes and socks back on a head back out into the rain. Once back at the hotel, we undressed our feet and marvel at the fact that I had actually developed a few bruises on my ankles and Dan's foot was cramped up. By morning however, we were feeling great...which was good, because we mad many miles to trek before heading home!

Sunday did not bring relief from the rain. We checked out of the hotel and headed to the train station where we stored our bags in a locker for the day. After enjoying breakfast and a cup of coffee, we explored the YM Oceanic and Art Museum near the harbour. This museum featured the history of the Yang Ming Shipping Company as well as the history of the building and harbour. It included an exhibit on Global Warming and the effects of pollution on Taiwan. We also saw some amazing photos done by a Taiwanese photographer who has traveled to the North and South Poles numerous times.

Next we headed to the Keelung Cultural Center where they have free art exhibits. The building itself was worth checking out as it is very Victorian and overlooks the harbour opposite the museum.

Our final stop was the Jungjeng Park. This park includes many temples and shrines all leading to a giant statue of Guanyin - the goddess of mercy. She is guarded by two giant golden lions and overlooks the harbour and the city. Unfortunately, in my excitement to update the blog, I lost half of our pictures, including almost all of this park.

While in the park, we met a lovely American couple who were aboard the cruise ship that had docked in the harbour and were enjoying a rainy tour of Keelung. We talked with them a while, sharing about our experience in Taiwan and teaching English, then walked around the town a little more before parting ways.

We found a delicious Japanese restaurant for dinner, then headed back to the train station for the ride home, which was extremely cold in our wet clothes as the trains are still air conditioned! While we enjoyed out time in Keelung and the unexpected surprises, we plan to return on a not-so-rainy weekend when we can enjoy it even more - and next time I won't lose the pictures!!!

It's a small world after all.........

This morning I took the bus into town in search of some much needed sweaters - yes, sweaters! Seems I packed only one and have worn it a number of times already. I figured I should find another before it gets too "chilly" - don't want to say cold, and offend those of you in America, as it will not be nearly as cold this winter as it is there. But none the less, I am in need of a few warm clothes.

So, you know the button you push to tell the driver to stop at the next stop? Well here in Taiwan the bus plays a sort of techno version of "It's A Small World" - something that I've only recently realized. As the song played, over and over on my way into town, I began to think about just how small the world really is.

Here we are thousands of miles from home...but through modern technological conveniences like Skype, can call anyone and it feels like we're next door. I recieved two letters from America - reminding me of how far we've come with communication in the past century - these letters took nearly 10 days to reach me as opposed to the mili-seconds it takes to hear a familiar voice through Skype.

We've been able to keep in touch with a number of friends around the world as well; China, Israel, New Zealand, Denmark, and Hondurus - all expereincing a new culture and life away from home. We feel a connection with these friends, one that brings us closer together and again reminds us that this world is not so big after all.

We are loving Taiwan and all it has to offer....but in the midst of life and adventures we do truely miss our family and friends not just back in America but all around the world. We are comforted by the fact that through this blog, Skype, email, and even snail mail, this world is not so big after all!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Changhua and the BIG Buddha!

Sunday morning, we did a little more sightseeing around Lugang. We spent some time relaxing and thinking in the Longshan Temple. This temple looks very similar to the one in Taipei, however it's much more weathered. The colors are not quite as bright and their were much fewer visitors. This temple was the first Buddhist temple built in Taiwan. Apparently the man who brought Buddhism to Taiwan was out at sea and had to port in Lugang because of bad weather. He stayed long enough to build the temple and share the religion. We loved the intricate detail of the sculptures and statues as well as the wood work and paintings. There were two beautiful trees growing in the center of the Temple - which is made of of 4 buildings, all surrounded by a brick wall protecting it and separating it from the rest of the town. When you enter the gates, you are overcome with a sense of peace and what can only be described as zen! We could have spent hours just "being" in this beautiful place. There were a number of families and friends relaxing and talking on the many benches and steps found throughout the temple area. Also, there were some music lessons happening under one of the temple buildings. It was neat to see the different instruments and to see so many different people, from so many different walks of life joining in one place.

We then headed back to the bus station to catch the bus to Changhua. We had a few sites to see in Changhua before heading back home. The first on our list was the Giant Buddha. I checked the map and our guide book for directions, having little luck as they were contradicting and neither matched the actual road signs. We set off in what we believed to be the right direction, and soon was confirmed when we saw the GIANT in the distance.
The path to the Buddha was a beautiful walking path - no scooters for a change - through a wooded park. There were various shrines and temples along the way as well as ponds and fountains. Did I mention it was all UP HILL...stairs and ramps...oh and it was like 90degrees out with no breeze and humidity of nearly 90%. But it was well worth it to see this magnificent statue.
Our day ended with a visit to the Confucius Temple in Changhua and dinner at a noodle restaurant. We unfortunately were out of space on our camera cards due to the parade the previous day. We may need to invest in another memory card for such occasions. There is so much we could take pictures of - most of which would never catch the true beauty of what we see in person.
We ended up making it to the train station with about an hour to wait, so we got some Passion Fruit Bubble Tea - my favorite drink so far!!! And relaxed before what would only be an uncomfortable train ride back. We had to stand nearly 1/2 of the 1.5 hour ride, and when there were seats available, we had to nearly fight for them. We met a few guys who asked us a million questions after staring at us awkwardly for about 20 minutes - this happens a lot! Once in Hsinchu, we thought we'd stop by the night market to get some dinner before heading home. Much to our dismay, we had gotten off the bus to an empty lot, with only a few stalls finishing tear down and loading their trucks. We decided that pizza would be a good alternative...so Domino's it was. We had to take the pizza to go as there was no dining area, and due to the rain and wind outside, decided to take it home to eat. With the rain and wind the bus was literally packed. We got on, and had to stand "cheek to cheek" with the 100+ people loaded on this 50 passenger bus. We had to step off the bus and back on at each stop! It was actually kind of comical, but made getting home such a relief. Luckily it was only 7:30pm and we had the evening to enjoy our pizza and coke and relax!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Moon Festival in Lugang

In celebration of Moon Festival and to take advantage of having the day off, Dan and I headed to Lugang for the weekend. We left early Saturday morning, heading into town to take the train to Changhua and then a bus to Lugang. Once arriving, we checked out the visitors center - which your Lonely Planet guide said would have maps in English and they could assist with finding a place to stay. We fortunately found maps, but had little luck with getting a hotel. After walking to the only hotel suggested by the clerk at the visitor center - a 15 floor highrise, that was WAY out of our price range - we consulted our guide again finding a resonable hotel. Then set out to locate the hotel. After about 20 minutes of walking, we stumbled upon it - HOTEL said the sign out front! We paid, were given a key, TV remote & a/c remote then trudged up 3 flights of stairs, numerous hallways, and an array of interesting archetectural features to our room, which happened to be at the end of the hall next to a balcony that overlooked a nearby park.

After we were settled, we headed out for some lunch before checking out an Art Museum. Lunch was bowl of meatball soup - two fat meatballs in a bowl of broth! Unfortunately, we had arrived just as the market was closing down for the day. We did, however, find what looked like a farmers market where they were still had meat and vegetables for sale. There were so many kinds of meat, many with parts still attached that I would rather not see!

With our stomachs atleast settled, we headed to the Art Museum. According to our book, it was to be located on Jhongshan road, however when we arrived, the doors were locked. After looking further into the article, we had to enter through another address, which was the Din Family Old House. This old home has been transformed into a beautiful temple like building with two courtyards that when walked through connect two parallel streets. It was absoluetly beautiful.

Once we stopped taking pictures of this old house, we headed to the museum. As we came closer we were overcome by this majestic old mansion that was the museum.

It cost NT$130 to get in, but was well worth every penny. This museum was once the home to a very wealthy family. It consists of a beautiful courtyard on three sides complete with an arboritum, stream with fish, and wooden swing hung from a tree. We walked around the outside before venturing into the building. The main house was a square shaped, two stories, with a courtyard in the center, where each room was filled with different artifacts from Taiwan's history. There were clothes, tools, dishes, furtiture, paitings, statues, etc. Next we ventured into what we believe to be the guest house, or servent quarters. Here we found more artifacts as well as an art gallery with a wide variety of beautiful orchids decorating it. (I sure do love orchids - and they're everywhere here!!)

We could have spent all day in this museum, it was so calm and tranquil. Before we left, we tried out a number of toys from the past. One of which was stilts - neither one of us were very good, but it was fun to play!

Next we headed to what was called Nine Turns Alley - an alley built with many turns and curves so as to block the wind and dust. However, as we were nearing the entrance to the alley, we heard bagpipes, so decided to check out where they were coming from. Next thing we know we were in the midst of a parade. Dan and I looked at each other with the excitement of a child and began to follow the parade, only to find that we were at the beginning and there was still more to come. In celebration of the Moon Festival, this parade was touring the city, stopping at each temple to pay respects to the temple gods. We stood outside one temple as the parade came through.

After the parade, we headed back to Nine Turns Alley and enjoyed a peaceful walk through this very beautiful alley. We ended near the market we had eaten lunch at and wandered around a bit as the shops and food stalls were opening up again for the evening. Then we headed to Old Market Street, similar to Nine Turns Alley but straight. It's has a quaint, small historic town feel to it with many shops and restaraunts.

As we emerged from this quiet street, we were spat out onto Jhongshan road again amidst the hustle and bustle of the night market. Being that it was near dark and we had only eaten a few meatballs for lunch, we grabbed what food we could find at the market. Dan tried an oyster omelet, while I tried cow tongue (not really). The oyster omelet was great (so Dan says - not much of an oyster eater myself), and the cow tongue, which is actually a pastry filled with a honey-like center in an oval shape, was delicious. Unfortunately, beyond this the market had little to offer besides moon cakes!! We decided to head back to our hotel when we heard the drums and bagpipes again...so we joined the crowd around a nearby temple and watched the show again.

We finally headed back to our hotel near 8:30 - an early night for us - but we spent the next few hours enjoying the boom and color of fireworks from our balcony. There were fireworks in all directions. It went on for hours - imagine the Grand Finale on the 4th of July lasting for hours on end!! I can only imagine what it's like for the Chinese New Year?!?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Change of plans...

Unfortunately, due to the weather, we will not be taking our original trip this weekend. The typhoon that hit Taiwan about 2 months ago caused some flooding in the mountains that has wiped out a number of roads. As of yet, the roads leading to this quaint little town have not been fixed. Also, there are two typhoons currently out at sea, headed our way. No worries, we are completely save, however the mountains of Taiwan are what help protect the west coast by breaking up the storm and are often hit the hardest. As we're finding, Hsinchu is actually the best place to be during typhoon season! Check out this website to follow the storm. However, because we have the time off and will not in the future, we will still be traveling this weekend. We will be staying to the west coast, but visiting the city of Changhua where the largest Buddha in Asia resides. There are a number of small shops, parks, and even some farms that can be explored - all of which can be done in the rain if it should hit. Looking forward to sharing about out weekend when we return!