Cyril and the Smoker
A jaunt to the beach on Cyril, catching up with friends and enjoying a Snapper from the Smoker - yum!
After a quick look at the map and a few texts to our local friends, our day was planned. We hopped on Cyril our electric scooter and made our way to Route 200. This was taking us all the way to the Southeast coast to Gangkou.
Earlier during our time here, we kept seeing small farms growing a long trailing cactus plant and had no idea what they were. At last, now they are blooming and bearing fruit, and we’ve found out that they are Pitahaya, or better known as Dragon Fruit.
As we were driving along, we kept seeing these fabulous plants with large white flowers at the end of the stems. Since then, I’ve learnt that each flower only blooms once overnight, fully open at around midnight and then closes during the morning, finally becoming the yellow or red fruit 15 days later.
The fruit looks wonderful, they have such a unique shape and healthy to eat as they are rich in antioxidants. They do look great in a fruit salad, but rather bland in taste. I suppose you can’t have everything!
Suddenly we realised that we had arrived at Gangkou as I could see the red and white suspension footbridge tucked behind some stalls. We paid our Twd20 to cross the bridge and I did get a bit carried away taking photos of Tim while I was both off and on the bridge. I wasn’t the only one, as we had to squeeze past quite a few families and friends taking selfies.
As we reached the other end, the small groups had disappeared. I think people only come to see the bridge and don’t explore any further. We walked along a boardwalk and then a sandy pathway, finally reaching the empty beach.
What a lovely time we had with Tim creating a sandcastle, I collected different coloured stones and we stood watching a flock of white egrets flying over us. We wished we’d brought our swimming gear as the river flowing into the Pacific Ocean was fairly warm, even tempting for me!
Later, we made the 12km way back to Hengchun, being buffeted by the wind a bit and finally reached Cathy and Zeff’s stall that they decided to reopen.
Cathy was still getting prepared and Zeff was out so we went to a nearby café for coffee. As we walked back we noticed that the ground was damp. We’d luckily missed a torrential shower.
The family were all there when we returned. Tim played with their fun-loving son Zion, I cooed at their gorgeous daughter, Cathy was making Falafel wraps on the stall out front and Zeff chatted while he was sorting out the shop that they have just signed a lease to use.
They are such an amazing couple. Perhaps they have too many fingers in different pies and with a young family that can become a bit daunting. I sense that their many ideas get diluted; sometimes less is more. We love their drive, community spirit, holding on to their principles and taking risks to do something unique.
We dropped our trusted Cyril the Scooter back to the hire place and carried on down the road to Mike’s place. He had got his smoker working and invited us around for dinner to try out the large piece of Red Snapper he was smoking for us.
We love his place, it’s got a beautiful backdrop of mountains, feels as if you are in the middle of the countryside, even though it’s a five-minute walk to the high street. Chickens, geese and ducks waddle around, a cute little dog often pops by and there is a great community spirit. We hadn’t been there long and one of his neighbours brought a Papaya tree for Mike!
Tim busied himself planting the tree while Mike explained to me how the smoker worked and showed me the pork steaming away in a herb-rich broth, stacks of chicken breasts turning golden and two racks of ribs cooking away.
He has created him and Audrey a fabulous little place to live. The kind of place that Tim and I would love to have in the future. We’ve definitely realised that we don’t need much, a small, low maintenance place with land to grow our food and perhaps some ducks as well.
We sat chatting and scoffing on the succulent snapper fish with salad, enjoying Mike’s company. He is very entertaining and we have many laughs together. With all the delicious food inside us, Tim and I suddenly felt tired; it was time for us to walk home.
As we passed a field of dragon fruit the smell hit us. It was incredible, sweet, a bit like lilies but not so heady. Perhaps it was because we were outside. And the flowers were like huge white trumpets which almost glowed in the dark. In a way, they make up for the bland tasting fruit.
What a gift to see these flowers in full bloom as we walked back, reflecting on our day on Cyril to the beach and enjoying the fruits of Mike’s labour building his smoker.