Taiwan 2012 – Riding to YangMingShan
I’m not big into the idea of planing for perfect days; they can’t be planed and you can’t realize just how good the best ones are until their just about over…. This was a perfect day. A 7 out of 7. One for the record books.
Pat and I had some Hunan Hai Cha at Wisteria skipping breakfast, and prepping our appetites for the impending lunch. The Hai Cha was like drinking fresh, clean, sweet dirt. Not very different from most Hai Cha’s, but most aren’t from the Mid 70’s. Without any food to stabilize us we were flying on Cha Qi.
We had lunch at the Celestial Restaurant, one of the most famous Peking Duck Houses in the world, and by far and away the best meal I’ve ever had in Taiwan; better than any of the duck I had in Beijing as well. More side’s of Meat and Fish and Scallops and Vegetables than there was duck, filled the table, but nothing could ever beat the taste of that fatty skin warped in a thin pancake with a scallion and Hoisin sauce. The meal put Pat and I into a food coma, and that was without the tea and wine Teaparker brought. We got to sample the wine from a Qing Dynasty DeHua cup, and it totally changed the body of the red Mâcon. The Tea was a Spring Lu Shan high mountain oolong produced in the Dong Ding Style; and that’s the lunch time tea with Teaparker. A big thank you to him for our welcome banquet!
Pat and I knew it would be difficult to get out of our food coma, so we decided to undertake an adventure. We would take the bike up Yang Ming Shan on the range that separates Taipei from the North Coast and find one of the natural hot springs. Driving a 125cc motorbike 2up (two people) up steep mountain terrain is anything but easy, yet the fresh mountain air, the wind in our face, and the open road before us + the promise of hot springs made it all worth it. The road on the ride up offered beautiful scenery and a chance to feel the other side of Taiwan.
We made it to MaCao Springs, just on the other side of the range, so we could see the lights of the fishing boats and freighters sitting off the coast; being in the Rain forest (sub-tropical at that altitude), listening to the bugs and the birds and the occasional monkey call while sitting outside in a natural mud spring (au natural), cycling in and out of the natural fresh cold spring… It bumped up the days score at least 2 points.
We ate one of the islands super-fruit apples and took the road down to Shilin/Tianmu as the sun set over the mountains lighting the steam rising from the sulfur pits a golden orange. We bumped into (not literally) a imported wine store, and the driving being done for the day, jumped in for a quick and celebratory review before having a traditional Taiwan dinner at the ever-crowded Shilin Night Market.
This really was an unplanned and perfect day.
There is a lot more to come!