Yilan County, Taiwan

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hello all! Hope your Thanksgiving weekend is winding down nicely. From over here, it feels like Thanksgiving was eons ago!

Saturday, my aunt took me shopping at one of the outdoor markets here. That was kind of trippy. Along with seeing animals and organs I didn't want to see, I discovered that 9:30am on a Saturday morning is none too early for the older Taiwanese ladies to hit the tiny market streets with their heavy carts and run over people to get to the goods!

Yesterday, my extended family here and I took a day trip to Yilan County, which is by the coast (and also a mountainous area). I'd been there at least twice before on previous visits, but didn't do anything particularly touristy then.

This time we visited the beach where the surfers of Northern Taiwan go. I was really excited about this as I was once into surfing (or the idea of it). The surf culture here seems alive and well, though very limited (at least in Northern Taiwan). There was a small block of surf shops across from the beach, and to my amusement, they looked identical to those I've seen in Southern California. Even though the weather was dreary and drizzly, there were dozens and dozens of surfers out quite far waiting for a wave.

I was trying to get a photo of the surfers waiting for a wave but this girl wasn't bothered by
my picture-taking (a.k.a. she didn't move) so now she's in my photo too. 
She looks like your typical surfer chick, no?

I love mosaic-like things ... not a great photo, but this 
lined the beach walls (I think it's a wave?)

Following that, we drove up the mountain to the Mr. Brown Castle/Café for coffee and a view. Mr. Brown is a famous coffee company here, famous mostly to me because it's canned and it was the first coffee I remember being obsessed with. I must've been 6 or so, but the canned stuff was always so fragrant and delicious. When I was little (and even now, as I found out yesterday), many bathrooms in the more rural areas of Taiwan were of the squatting variety. Which I hated, for reasons you can probably imagine. My mother used to bribe me to use these toilets with Mr. Brown Coffee.

My relatives told me that the CEO of Mr. Brown doesn't just work in the coffee industry; he also has a smattering of hotels and resorts in the country, as well as orchid farms. Indeed, the "castle" was filled with orchids of all different colors.

I ordered an almond latte, which was okay (I've found the coffee here to be much weaker than coffee in the U.S.), and we sat down on the upper floor with views of the beach out the windows. Afterwards we climbed to the roof and looked out.

Turtle Island, from Mr. Brown's Castle
Apparently the "head" and "tail" move (the rocks move from erosion and the waves)

Then we drove to Toucheng, another town in Yilan County, where my uncle is originally from. We had lunch at some family-run restaurant, which meant I was sitting on a plastic children's seat and constantly having to move out of the way so someone could squeeze by. My uncle ordered way too much food for 5 people and I didn't know the names of most of the dishes, but I nearly got conned into eating an eyeball. That's all you've really got to know!

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