My plan to post pictures in real-time faded quickly as our activities drained our energy. But here’s Day 3!
We started off our day with a breakfast run at a 燒餅油條 place near my aunt’s apartment. I was here 10 years ago, and they are still around. Good to see that their business has been good enough to keep ’em around. Definitely one of the better places to get 燒餅油條.
After we ate our fill, we headed out! First stop – Houtong Cat Village! Previously a prosperous coal mining town, it has since declined and become a cat group home. In the past a cat lover volunteer turned the area into a home for abandoned cats. All the cats were pretty friendly, although it was like 90°F out so they were also lazing about. There were remnants of the coal operations that occured in the early 1900s, decaying structures that dot the landscape from its glory days, but the town has since dwindled and the residents fewer.
Our next stop was Shifen (十分). This town was clearly a tourist stop for letting out sky lanterns and seeing the waterfall. One of the bigger waterfalls in Taiwan, it attracted a plethora of people. One of the interesting things to note was that people were allowed on the rails when a train wasn’t incoming – if there was a train inbound, red lights would go off on both sides of the rails warning everyone to get out of the way. There was a shaky but interesting rope bridge (suspension?) that we braved to get a good view of the valley.
We grabbed some food at some random places along the street and headed out to the waterfall. It was a bit of a hike and it was really hot out. Dante and Megan bought parasols to shield themselves from the sun’s attempt to cook them. We reached the waterfall, and it was gorgeous. The mist from the area was also extremely soothing and we lingered around enjoying the scenery for a while.
After we walked back, we got back on the train to head to Jingtong. We (re: Adam & Dante) actually held up the train by a couple minutes, and my aunt had to play the foreigner card to get them to hold the train for us. We headed to Jingtong Old Street to check it out and see the 360° LED screen light show at the old police station. Unfortunately the recent typhoons knocked out a lot of the LEDs, so they were in the process of repairing it. It was getting dark, so we bought some sky lanterns, and got to work writing on them with a calligraphy brush. Each of the colors represented different things: Blue for wishes, white for health, pink for love, and yellow for prosperity. We chose to have a common phrase on our lanterns, 馬到成功, which translates to “achieve immediate success”. On Adam’s phone, however, the first translation was:
Be victorious the moment the battle steeds arrive-win success immediately upon arrival; gain an immediate victory; win instant success
After a long day we headed back to our apartment, and saw a cultural theater show going on by the train station. We dropped off our stuff, and headed back to Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市) to grab some Black Pepper buns (胡椒餅) that the night market is famous for. When we got in line there were only maybe 8 people ahead of us. One of the ladies ordered 19 buns. By the time we got up to the front, the line had grown exponentially. It was ridiculous how many people were waiting.
It was a pretty great day. Not as much walking as the previous day, but still a lot of fun. The next day will be without my aunt’s guidance, so it should be interesting.