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Homesick Again

Cintiangang Cattle

I woke up homesick this morning. For a place I visit infrequently, and not since January of 2007. Yang Ming Shan, the mountain park and resort only a city bus ride from downtown Taipei, Taiwan, is the area I mean. In particular, the village of Zhu Zi Hu, or Bamboo Lake in American-speak, was on my mind for some reason.

The last time I was there the wind was blowing cold for Taiwan, and the temperature was down around 5 Celsius. The air was rain-swollen damp, so it was good we had bundled up. Hiking warmed us well, as it is about three kilometers from the bus stop to the lake area. Hiking also gave us an appetite! We stopped in at the best restaurant around (according to my guides), in a converted greenhouse. Bamboo Lake is renowned for its calla lilies and other flowers, so there are plenty of greenhouses around.

What sets this restaurant apart from the others, I believe, is not just its tasty cuisine, but the fact that their plastic film had almost no holes in it.

Megan, Connie and Lunch

Megan, Connie, and Lunch: Soup, Entrees, Rice, Tea

We had a spicy beef dish and a simple vegetarian medley. Later there was a pork dish, something like Twice-Cooked Pork, but with less garlic and heat. We also had a couple orders of sticky buns. The fish soup was very mild, using tomatoes and white fillets of a fish like cod. (I didn’t ask.) There was a sauce, however, that had plenty of flamethrower in its lineage, so we were all snuffling before lunch was done. It didn’t matter that there were no heaters in the place, and only about three mils of polyethylene between us and the mountain breeze.

Smoking Mountain

Considerable more hiking found us back at the bus stop, and we decided to ride for a while. We managed to get to the very top of the mountain, at Cintiangang, where we could visit with their famous cattle. They’re not mad cows, just exasperated. I suppose if you lived on top of a cold mountain and only had grass to eat you’d be miffed too.

We saw the hot springs that make Yang Ming Shan a true resort, rotten egg smell and all. By then we were tired and hungry again, so we took the city bus down to the expatriate sector and enjoyed a nice Italian meal at Diamond Tony’s, my treat. Shoot, I even bought lunch, but that amounted to less than $12 total. Dinner was a tad more, but if you don’t learn to live a bit while you’re out in the world…

Enjoy the Heat!

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