NOTE: This post should have been written almost a month ago now. I meant to write it within the first week after we visited Yangmingshan, but I was still feeling burned out about writing anything after finishing all of our stuff for grad school in December. However, that’s no excuse for it being almost a month late. :D Anyway, here it goes – better late than never, I hope!
The week of Jan. 14th – 21st was almost like a week long celebration for us. The 14th marked not only our one-year anniversary of being in Taiwan, but also my birthday. Joel made me breakfast and snuck out to the local wet market early in the morning to buy me a dozen gorgeous red roses. Later that night, we also ate lots of delicious food at our favorite all-you-can-eat hot pot and barbeque place with Yang Mama, Mingdaw, Zhi-ling, and John (our Canadian boss). We even tried barbequing some snails…though they turned out a little tough to chew…and very hard to pry out of the shells with chopsticks. :D
One of the coolest things we did that week was take a trip to the northern part of Taipei with our friends Charles and Angel. We drove up one of the mountains there, called Yangmingshan. About halfway up, we rolled the windows down to smell the fresh air. It was wonderful to be away from the traffic noises and exhaust fumes that fill the Taipei basin. The mountain was beautiful, but different from the forest covered mountains of New Hampshire and British Columbia. This mountain had only a few trees, but was covered instead with grasslands.
We got out of the car and took a short hike around the summit area. At some points, the grass was taller than Joel! It was pretty easy to imagine that we were walking through some kind of savannah and that we might encounter a lion stalking its way through the long grasses. But instead of lions, there are buffaloes that live in the grasslands of Cingtiangang. It was really beautiful. There were even several couples up there getting their wedding portraits done. Yangmingshan is also famous for its hot springs. After we finished exploring the grasslands, we drove to another part of the mountain that has sulphuric hot springs bubbling up from the ground. Apparently this mountain is an old volcano, though it is inactive now – except for the hot springs that bubble to the surface and the smell of sulfur that fills the air. This area looked totally different from the grasslands – more like the surface of the moon than the African plains.
We finished off the day with a great lunch at a restaurant that is partway down the mountain. They serve some of the wild mountain vegetables, which seem to have a sweeter flavour than those you might fight in the local market. We ate in a room of the restaurant that had old stone walls – on some areas you could see a light covering of moss growing. The atmosphere was amazing and the food tasted wonderful. However, the company of our friends, Angel and Charles) was the best part of the meal (and the whole day). We had a great time hanging out, laughing, joking, and practicing our Chinese on them. We’ve been blessed to have many great friends during our year in Taiwan, and even though it took me so long to write about our trip up to Yangmingshan with Charles and Angel, it was a day that we’ll remember for many years to come. :D
See more photos here!