Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Elephant Hill + Shida Night Market Dinner with Friends

After a week of rain and a typhoon it cleared up on Saturday, so we decided to go for a bike ride.  We rode through the city to get to Elephant Mountain one of the 4 Beast Mountains. (the others are Lion, Tiger and Leopard)

The city biking was fine but throw the mountain road at me.... I almost DIED.   It's not a steep incline but it's a steady one all the way up.  Not only that,  it was the middle of the afternoon & it was probably 30+ degrees!

We thought this was a wasp nest or maybe some kind of tree growth.  Who knows?

I think I'm having a heat stroke.  Beautiful view though.

I swear Justin has super vision.  This Praying Mantis was in a tree probably 6 feet away on the side of the road. It still took me a minute to find it with Justin pointing it out to me.

As painful as it was, the view was worth it.

Didn't quite make it to the top.  1 km away  :(  Next time we're taking a scooter.


The road we took up  was through the mountain tombs. Very peaceful. 

Much happier, on our way down.  

  Lunch time at the Potato Guru


Mexican Burger (had jalapenos and peanut butter)  & Chili Fries 

That night we went out with a few friends & had burgers again.  This one was an  Avocado & Tzatziki burger with cheese fries

This was the gourmet burger restaurant KGB ( Kiwi Gourmet Burger)  

After dinner we went to this little cafe/pub.  Here's my Cafe Mocha & Brownie.  So good.

Here we are...Me, COURTNEY (arrived a week ago from Montana.  She's one of the new teachers at the school Leia & Damien taught at)  DAN, SHANA, Matt and Justin.

Wulai Round 2 - Neidong Falls & Hot Spring Ecstasy

It was Leia's last full day in Taiwan and she decided she wanted to go back to Wulai to see the stuff she didn't see last time, as well as introduce Dan and Courtney to the wonders that Wulai had to offer!

This is the waterfall that we already have a picture in front of.  But we thought we'd get another one!  The gondola up to the amusement park is right above us, but it didn't look like it was running that day

We took a taxi to Neidong Falls as we'd heard it was a beautiful spot.  This was on the ticket booth.  Weird how they incorporated 3 or 4 different drawing styles

The water in the river here was eerily cloudy blue!  It was in the 30's and we all wished we could jump in.  No swimming here though!  because as you can see in the distance, it's some sort of dam.


lol engrish

After a 1km hike from the entrance, there's a series of waterfalls leading into the aqua river

Swimming in these pools would have been amazing!  However it's a park and there's no swimming allowed in this section

We decided to go up the Green Shower Path (2km up the mountain).  It sounded like there's be a waterfall at the end for swimming!

It was a good... 1hr hike up the mountain.  Lots of steps but the nice part was actual path to walk on.  Most hiking trails in Taipei are all stairs.

We started to see pine trees towards the top!

And bam!  That's what's at the top... no swimming pool or waterfall.  Or even a view of the valley!  Just a road.  We were slightly disappointed but we decided it was good exercise and gave us more incentive to find a swimming hole!

Saw a neat looking beetle on the way down.

almost back down

so sad...

The taxi that had driven us here gave us his number so we called him up to take us back into town.  We would have walked but it was a 10 minute taxi drive which would probably take us over an hour to walk.  It was already 4:30 and we were exhausted by the hike.

We had the driver drop us off at our swimming hole from last time!  OMG it felt amazing to jump into the water and cool off.  This is one of our favourite areas to swim because there's absolutely no one around.  A large portion of Taiwanese are afraid of swimming where it's deep, so we think this is why there were no locals here, yet a whole ton of them 100 meters down stream.

After our swimming in the river, we decided to explore and check out the free public hot springs located alongside the river

The sun was soon to go down and the place had a lot of people, but wasn't overly crowded.

A bit blurry, but it's one of the only close-up pictures I have.  You can see down below is some rock that's been shaped into a "hot tub", and then there is rock running down into the river where you can even stand.  So you have super hot hot tub hot springs and then you can jump into the river right beside!

This spot ended up being out little slice of paradise for the evening.  We met a local named Howard who showed us the ropes of the hot spring.  We started down by the hot tub area but he then told us to jump into the river and go for a swim with him!  We didn't know what we were doing so we followed along.  The river current pulls you along at a steady speed down past all of the public hot springs.  When you get towards the end, you can swim back to shore and right there waiting for you is a hot spring shower!  2 large pipes sticking out of the rock with fat streams of hot water coming down to shower you.  It felt amazing.  We started walking back along the shore to the hot tub when Howard showed us a rock out crop sticking into the river and said it was deep enough to jump in.  It was probably 3 meters above the water. We all jumped off and floated back to the hot spring shower.  Then walked back to the hot tub to soak for a while.  Then when we got too hot, we'd repeat the river swim -> hot spring shower -> jump off the rock -> hot spring shower -> hot tub cycle for what seemed like hours.  There are no lights around the hot spring so it's pretty dark except for the moon light and the lights from the town.  One of the most amazing experiences I've had in Taiwan by far and I was really happy to have shared it with Eliza.

okay!  so there wasn't many pictures of the hot spring part because I was having such an amazing time and I was also soaking wet and it was dark.  So we're skipping forward to dinner at a local restaurant recommended by Ali and Niki.

This place serves the delicious Xiao Lum Bao (soup dumpling).  When we got to the restaurant, Ali and Niki were eating there too!  It was nice to see them and they recommended us some things to order.

Yummy soup filled dumplings!

After dinner we walked by the local fresh fruit drink stand by our house.  I was telling everyone about the Avocado Pudding drink and they all wanted to try it!  Here is our last group picture of the night.  It was really bitter sweet because after the amazing day, it was really sad to have to say goodbye to Leia.  I don't know if we'll ever see her again (I hope so!), but we were very lucky to have had a great friend to introduce us to some new friends in Taiwan.

And lastly, happy birthday to Dan!  It was his birthday that day :D

Taipei Zoo - World Class

Every restroom had a different sign

Cute little mini deer

 If you've ever tried to take a picture of a butterfly or dragonfly you know how hard it is to get a good picture.

Justin took some beautiful pictures

The camouflage on this butterfly was amazing


The life cycle of poo

Poo = Energy

Need I say more?

Baby Pygmy Hippo

Day at the Zoo.  We got there after 4pm so we got in half price.  We paid $2 for both of us.

What's a Zoo without a Poo Playground

Justin admiring the Wall of POO

On our way out there were tons of vendors selling whined up toys

We were starving & Grimace was calling us to come in & join him