Go with the Flow on an Unexpected Trip to Tuscany
We love days like today. We meet new people, then things happen. Well, we certainly went with the flow on an unexpected trip to Tuscany, today. Yes, we are still in Taiwan!
In the morning, Cathy contacted us and said she was in town and could take us to their smallholding. They live out in the sticks in part of the National Park with no public transport.
As we arrived, we were astounded by the beautiful countryside surrounding their home.
Tim and I sat on the verandah chatting with Cathy; things have not been easy for them in recent years, not that you would know from the surface. Despite adversity, Cathy and Zeff are active in the community, work as well as build up their farm and care for their young family. They organise fun games for local young children as well as teach them about farming. They are incredible.
Zeff came to join us, and I could see a heaviness in his demeanour. We asked how we could help and joined him to weed a small patch. It was lovely to be out in the sun, doing something physical as well as chat. Zion, their delightful son, picked up our pile of weeds and putting them in the wheelbarrow. He is such a sweet-natured boy, and it was lovely to see Zeff’s effervescent nature gradually return.
They have been here for three years. In the beginning, the plot was covered with thick weeds. Slowly and methodically they have cleared the land, planted vegetables as well as trees in pots. Some of these may take up to 7 years to bear fruit. The family are here for the longterm and what a legacy for their children.
Cathy was going back to town, so after a refreshing drink and fresh fruit, she dropped us off at Mike’s place.
A friend of Mike’s had also visited him. Ian met Mike at Zeff and Cathy’s falafel stall, the same as us. He moved back to Taiwan from America. We chatted for a while, arranged to meet Mike later at 5 pm to go down to Kenting and left them to get some lunch.
We returned to the veggie diner around the corner, and the owner and a group of his elderly friends all greeted us warmly. One of them, Tingpin, could speak English and came to chat with us. He had returned from the USA to Taiwan a year ago after retiring from his profession as a petrol station designer.
It was quite comical as Tingpin would find out about us then go back to his friends and update them about these two GrownUpTravellers. He eventually sat down with us and offered to take us to see some beautiful scenery. We explained that we were meeting our friend Mike at 5 pm and he reckoned we would get back in time.
After finishing our tasty, simple meal, we hopped into this stranger’s car and drove out of town.
Tingpin was very easy to chat with, and we heard about his two daughters and grandchildren and shared about our sons. Before we knew it, he turned left off the main road towards Tuscany Resort, a beautiful hotel owned by one of his friends. The buildings with their terracotta roofs reminding us of our honeymoon in Tuscany nearly 28 years ago.
We parked up and strolled around the grounds with Tingpin transforming into David Bailey (an iconic UK photographer). At every opportunity, he wanted to take our photos: in front of the golden Laburnum; by the deep orange Phoenix tree; on the lawn with the Dajian Mountain in the background.
Our next stop was near Shedding Natural Park, which we walked around the last time we were in the area. But this time, Tingpin turned into a driveway.
Another friend, an architect, built this beautiful Bed and Breakfast. We’d certainly love to stay here, but beyond our budget sadly. The intricate metalwork on the front of the house was stunning. It was a shame the owner wasn’t there; we would have liked to have met him. Instead, his son Ben and his dog, Happy greeted us. Ben kindly allowed us to walk around the grounds and even suggested that Happy joined us on our walk, but sadly Happy had other ideas.
The location was fabulous, snug between trees. Tingpin gave us both a walking stick, and we trundled through a gate down a pathway amongst the trees. We came to the end of the path – Oh my! What views!
We had a 180-degree view of Kenting, from Taiwan’s southernmost point and its lighthouse, past the town of Kenting with the Bashi Channel stretching out before us. What a treat! We stood there for some time, mesmerised by the view. Tingpin took a few more photos, and it was time to depart. As we returned to the car, there was Happy, the dog, waiting for us, wagging his tail.
We realised that we wouldn’t get to Hengchun by 5 pm, so Tim contacted Mike to arrange to meet in Kenting.
Tingpin dropped us off after we thanked him profusely for his generosity and kindness. We are so lucky to meet such friendly people. I stood reflecting; I hope one day we can care for some travellers in the UK and take them around some beautiful sites.
We sat waiting for Mike. He does tend to be late. Suddenly we received a text. He had got on a bus going the wrong way. Ah! He is not the only one to do this. We have a number of times, mind you; not for a while.
Sometime later, Mike arrived, and we heard all about his adventure getting to us. He is a great story-telling and does make us laugh.
We walked down to the Thai restaurant where Audrey, his girlfriend, works and greeted us. She works such long hours; it was a shame as she planned to have the day off with us. We hope we can spend some time with her while we are here. Quite a few other Filipino ladies work here, and they are like one big happy and supportive family.
A South African guy was sitting on the next table and we got chatting. It transpired that he lived in the same area as Mike when he was in North Carolina – it’s a small world. Here we are, from three different countries in Taiwan in a Thai restaurant with Filipino staff listening to Mexican music – what a mix!
We ordered our meal; Seabass in lemongrass with rice and coconut vegetables. It was amazing. I blended the fish and vegetable sauces – wow – I am salivating just thinking about it! Sadly we were enjoying our meal so much that we forgot to take any photos until it was all gone!
Mike wanted to show us a bar he discovered down by the beach. As we had 45 minutes before the next bus, we went with him. I must admit I was a bit peeved that the minimum spend was Twd150 + 10% surcharge minimum each. I only wanted a soft drink at Twd60. We do need to watch our pennies when travelling. Oh well, the place did have a prime location on the beach, and they do need to make a living.
We certainly have some unexpected moments during our travels, and these are probably the most treasured. We just couldn’t plan a day like today – it’s good to go with the flow!