Smelling like Roses
Days 895 – 900
We’ve been taking things easy recently as Tim hasn’t felt 100%. I am glad to say that he has nearly recovered (he says he is 90% now), and he must be as Tim managed to pop out to see his mate “Gym” yesterday and has gone back again this afternoon! So what else have we been up to?
Apart from lounging around, watching numerous Youtube clips and reading about Off-Grid living, we managed to go out a few times this week. Our wonderful hosts Claudia and Celso have taken us under their wing. During the week, they took us to a local restaurant where the sushi was the largest we have ever eaten. Afterwards, they drove us around; to nearby hills for a great view of the shoreline, through the countryside, passing small paddy fields onto Jiaoxi Town, famous for its hot springs.
Within the town, there are many hotels and spas where you can pay to dip in the natural hot baths, but being canny travellers, our Mexican friends took us along a path where we could plunge our feet into pools of bubbling hot water for free.
The pools were at different levels, the higher the hotter, as these were nearer to the source of the spring. Thankfully, the water doesn’t have the usual bad egg smell that most hot springs give off around Taiwan. Here the water has sodium bicarbonate, rather than the pungent hydrogen sulphide.
Tim and I quickly took off our trainers and socks and enjoyed dipped our feet. As I sat there with my feet turning pink, I suddenly heard a gurgling noise beside me. A man indicated that I should move and I’m glad I did otherwise I would have got a very hot bottom. Just beside me was the exit point of one of the springs and it had started to squirt boiling water out (ok, not quite boiling – but nearly 60 degrees - Yeoch it was hot!). Our feet are soft like a baby’s bottom now!
After our dip, Claudia and Celso took us to a stinky tofu stall (see the previous blog). The lady serving us was a delight and thrilled that we were trying her tofu and was visiting Taiwan. While we sat eating, Claudia chatted with her in Chinese, translating some of the conversations to us. I so admire Claudia, one minute she is talking Spanish, then fluent English and then Chinese – so talented.
Another day, Claudia got in touch to say she was going to Costco and would we like to join her. Tim decided to rest, so I went on my own with her. We get on so well and always end up in hoots of laughter about all manner of things. I took advantage of the visit and bought some food which we can’t get elsewhere – English cheddar cheese, Bagels and Avocados – yum.
If you were away from home for a long time, what food would you miss? Tea is the usual choice, and we are lucky that we can get decent tea here. Yesterday we had a facetime with our friend Jules, who is locked-down in New Zealand. She had just eaten a jacket potato with baked beans and grated cheese - such a British comfort food. We were salivating when she was describing it.
One thing we’ve noticed here is that on any spare land, vegetables are grown. We’ve seen squash grown amid a town; sweet corn on the verge side; lettuce on the beach; and beans and tomato plants squeezed between two buildings - such good utilisation of space. I have read that Taiwan produces 97% of its rice and over 80% of its vegetables and fruit. That’s pretty impressive!
Later in the week, Tim was feeling a bit better, so we caught the train to the next stop for a walk in the countryside. We found a path going up the mountain, passed small allotments growing a whole mix of vegetables. We are getting quite inspired by this vegetable growing.
Tim was getting tired, so after a stop admiring the view, we headed back down, but he did manage to walk 45 minutes along the pleasant and flat cycle path passed the surfer-dudes who enjoy riding the nearby waves, the harbour with many fishing boats docked, and the gorgeous museum building back to our apartment.
Today – day 900 (whoop whoop) we went down to the beach armed with bags and gloves. The last time we went down there, we noticed how much rubbish was strewn across it. Yesterday, while Tim was at the gym, I could hear loads of firecrackers and as we arrived at the beach, the remnants of these were here. What a mess! Worse still, the small squares of foil from the firework will not disintegrate.
Within one hour polystyrene, pieces of rubber, bottle tops, rope, a few odd flip-flops plus much more filled our bags. Hopefully, by the time we leave here, the beach will be looking a lot cleaner and perhaps tomorrow we will be able to face clearing up the debris from the firework.
As we returned to our apartment, Claudia got in touch to ask if we’d had lunch. We were just about to sit down for avocado salad, so she said: “wait for me – 5 mins”. She then drove over and brought us Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread) she had made for us. How lovely is that! And it was delicious. Claudia and Celso are so thoughtful and generous.
As our friend Bruce said yesterday to us - we “fall into shit and come up smelling like roses” Thanks Bruce – I hope we never do literally, but yes we really are very blessed with the many wonderful people we meet on our travels.