1.) We took a bus from Danshui to Jinshan today, and ended up in Jinshan eating all things sweet potato. A nice town to stop in if you're in the area but not really worth its own day trip. But the purple yam ice cream there is fantastic and you'll love the local food on offer if you like sweet potatoes.
Also, though the "old street" isn't really "old" at all, you can at least stock up on the usual Old Street stuff that you may like - for me it's black sugar cake (黑糖糕) and those smelly glycerin soaps in a million scents, and the little camphor balms. Also got some ginger herb tea (薑母茶) chunks because it tasted so good.
But we didn't go to Jinshan because we'd planned it that way - we originally set out to find these:
Photo ganked (sorry) from The Creepy Abandoned Pod Houses of Taiwan
To, you know, look around, take some photos, marvel at the total freakiness of the place. We've been by there on the bus a few times so we knew where they should have been...but they weren't there! They're gone! They are (or rather were) quite close to the highway - you can practically see in the windows from a moving bus - and we kept our eyes peeled out both sides of the bus all the way past Laomei and Cape Fugui. And they're definitely gone.
Boo. There should be a law against demolishing creepy, old fantastic things that may be haunted.
We also walked to the tip of Cape Fugui after the sun had set, which made the walk extra atmospheric - with the lighthouse beacon, lapping waves, frightening military installations, large domes, sea breezes and garbage truck song playing from nearby Laomei Village and all. Plus, out there, you can see a lot of stars - about as many as I remember being able to see from my parents' rural backyard on a clear night.
We did not, however, make it to Jinshan Beach, so no awesome photos of the nuclear reactors on either side.
2.) I just realized why I love posted photos from American-based message boards so much - no matter the topic of the board.
Whether it's a photo contest in which someone enters a picture that involves the inside of their house, or Fail Blog with the picture of some heinous Fail taken while displayed in a living room to a woman trying on her wedding dress in her den...
...it's the houses. On some weird, subconscious level, I may not be homesick, but I feel a weird desire to visit home whenever I see the insides of American houses. Doesn't matter what room. And not from movies or magazines, because those houses are all impossibly expensive or fake. Seeing real people's homes reminds me of what it was like to live in a big American house with things like a "den" (do you have any idea how long it's been since I've been in someone's den? Do dens even exist in Taiwan) or even a garage or rec room. Bonus points if it has wall-to-wall carpeting or an installed setup that I recognize from lots of houses from that era, like my grandparents' pre-installed "stone fireplace" that so many suburban homes have, or wood paneling on one wall, or *gasp* a bay window.
Anyway I'll stop there - it's clearly a very weird outlet of homesickness and I swear it's not creepy. It just is what it is.