Friday, April 16, 2010

Lush is gone!

No, really, it's gone, gone, gone.

This makes me so sad. So very, very sad. It also makes me sad that it's shown me how much of the expat-o-sphere in Taiwan is male; if we had more female bloggers here I think I would have seen this come up. (It was a tiny blurb in the Taipei Times - so tiny that I missed it).

And if I had known, I'd have rushed over there on Wednesday to pick up whatever I could get my paws on before the creditors arrived (and done my part to help pay the salaries of those poor workers who didn't get paid).


I mean, at least we still have L'Occitane (and Body Shop is not bad - I quite like their Satsuma body lotion - but I preferred the more complex smells at Lush and the quality of L'Occitane). And since my job is actually kinda good now, with professional clients and well-known names and everything - I can actually afford it. Yay!

But anyway. More foreign women in Taiwan please. I am sick of inquiring about foreigner-size shoes only to get directed to a bunch of stores that sell men's shoes, and none that sell women's. NONE. I am sick of having to scrounge and scavenge even for underclothes that fit (and that don't make me look like the heroine of that song "Roxanne" or like someone's Grandma), shoes that fit, a hair stylist who can actually cut my hair (I found one! Next post, I promise)...and Brendan being able to find everything he needs here. I honestly think that has everything to do with the fact that the foreign female presence in Taiwan is just paltry and sad. Which makes me sad. Not that I don't like the guys (OK, I don't like a lot of the guys, but some of them are good folks) but c'mon.
In good news: gay couples get hospital visitation rights in the USA. Hooray! It's about fracking time! For those who don't know, Brendan and I are huge supporters of gay marriage rights. Not just because we're bleeding heart liberals (though we are), but because we can't find any reason in any form - be it social, religious, scientific or otherwise - to deny this basic right...other than bigotry and hate. That's why, instead of wedding gifts, we want people to donate to Freedom to Marry. That's why this news makes me happy and hopeful that there's more change to come.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some More East Coast Photos

Gorgeous View of the East Rift Valley as approached from Highway 64 off the coast (about 2 hours north of Taidong).

Here are the rest of the photos from our east coast trip last weekend, in sort-of order!

A delicious salad at the well-known cafe in Matayan, near Hualien Sugar Factory. While the fish was good, it was not as good as the flying fish stir fried with wild boar that we had further south. The roast salty pork was basically pork fat (tasty pork fat, but pork fat nonetheless) so while I thought it was a good enough dinner, for the fame that this restaurant gets, it should have been better than "good". It should have been great. And while the salad was great...fresh, delicious, flavorful - the rest of the food was just OK.

Adorable fat dog at a restaurant on the east coast, in one of those tiny nowhere towns that has one real restaurant, some shacks and a convenience store.

Absolutely stunningly tasty dried flying fish and wild boar stir fry at the restaurant with the resident fat dog.

Above Taroko Gorge, further inland from Tianxiang. We didn't continue onward because the view was totally obscured from this point on.

...though the clouds were gorgeous.

Taroko Gorge

Swallow Grotto

Swallow Grotto
Taroko Gorge

And finally, after leaving the gorge at about 4pm, we drove over the Qingshui cliffs not long before sunset, in rather bad weather conditions. This view is visible from a portion of the old Su'ao Highway that is now closed to traffic, but open (you can park and walk there) to walkers. It's about 800 meters with stunning views in both directions.

As you can see, the cliffs do plunge straight into the blue Pacific. This is not hte only stretch of east coast like this: further north, between Nanfangao and Su'ao, more cliffs rise in a similar fashion, with identically terrifying roads perched high above the surf. They're not as famous but just as stunning.

The Qingshui Cliffs - check out that road!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweepin' the Toombz

Except we don't have any tombs to sweep so we rented a car over the weekend and drove across the North Cross Island Highway, based ourselves in Hualien and drove some more down the east coast, across the Ruiguang Highway (#64) and up the East Rift Valley before coming back via the Qingshui Cliffs and Luodong.

I haven't sorted through all of my photos yet, and a lot of them were taken from a moving car so they're not very good. But here's a smattering of what I've got (in backwards order):

One of the two Sao Ba Megaliths near Ruisui (East Rift Valley). Nice views, and they're kind of cool and maybe worth a quick look if you're in the area, but overall somewhat disappointing.

The cheese-tacular Tropic of Cancer monument. This place screams "pork barrel funding" (with pavilions and educational panels about the tropics, zodiac and latitude lines). Love it!

The scenic Highway #64 between Dagangkou and Ruisui. We encountered very little traffic here, and lots of lovely mountain views and unexpected animals (one mammal that ran away too fast to identify, and goats. Goats!)

Another view from the Ruiguang Highway.

Emily at Shihtiping. This was a nice stop though not as stunning as Yeliu in the north, and not as awe-inspiring as the views from the highway down the coast. Lots of tour groups here, though.

Some tidal pools at Shihtiping.

View of the coast from Shihtiping - this was one of the best parts of that stop.

View down the coast south of Hualien.

Cow Mountain Beach from the main road - it's a long, narrow drive down the hill to get to it, and the sand is burning hot when it's sunny.

These decorations were around the cafe and rest area attached to the beach. We didn't appreciate that with our burning feet on the sand, once we entered we couldn't even use their hose without buying a $50 ticket, but hey, you've got to make a living somehow. We did buy the ticket because we wanted cold drinks at the cafe.

The wind and sun do interesting things to my hair...

View north from Cow Mountain Beach

Rocks at Cow Mountain Beach

What I can only assume is Cow Mountain.

Emily at the beach.

We found a ...Wal-Mart! In Hualien! It's got to be a real Wal-Mart - the sign says so.

I like this sign along the North Cross Island Highway (this is somewhere past Baling) because one always pictures factories, airports, urban sprawl and betel nut shops when one thinks of Taoyuan. This shows that the county can be quite rural.

View near Baling. We stopped in one of the small roadside restaurants here (before Baling town) and had a delicious meal of mountain boar, local river fish and vegetables.

Some art depicting an aboriginal dance - I'm not sure what the deal is with the depiction of that woman, though. This area is heavily settled by aborigines.

Along the North Cross Island Highway, near the turnoff to Lalashan.

We did continue along down to Mingchi, Qilan and Luodong, but the fog was quite bad up there and we sadly missed all the best views.