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Taiwan

Limestone, water, and time…

Yeliu Geological Park

Yeliu Geological Park

Yesterday we took a refreshing day trip to Yeliu, a fishing town in the north that was a refreshing reprieve from the bustling city of Taipei. Aside from fishing, Yeliu is most known for Yeliu Geological Park—a site with interesting limestone rock formations that were created by the eroding powers of water and time. I could swear the park was packed with the same tourists that swarmed me in the National Palace Museum—the sort that forget that other people occupy the same space—but thankfully, those tourists seemed uninterested in straying too far from the main path, so we were able to get away by taking a small hike up to a viewpoint where we could enjoy plenty of peace and quiet while we watched the waves crash upon the limestone rocks below. With each ebb and flow, the artful hands of Mother Nature subtly molding the soft rock to form the next geological masterpiece. It’s inspiring what can be done with a little limestone, water, and time.

Chih Kan fort, Tainan

Chih Kan fort, Tainan

When I first arrived in Taipei, the weather was breathtakingly gorgeous, perhaps made more so by the fact that it was so frigid back home. However, since then, the weather has taken a turn for…well, not the worst as it’s still loads better than Portland, but definitely wetter and not the clear 70 degrees that it was when I arrived. Although we originally hoped to head to Taroko Gorge for some cycling, we’ve had to make alternate plans and head to a warmer and drier part of the country. That said, we hopped on a train and headed southwest to the city of Tainan. Going via a slower train (versus the high-speed rail) afforded us the opportunity to see more of Taiwan’s countryside, which is a varied landscape that alternates between old residential neighborhoods with community gardens, industrial areas, and lush farmland growing pineapples, bananas, and other local crops. Interestingly, the fruit trees had bags that encase the fruit to protect them from pests as they continue to grow and ripen. Imagine…pesticide-free fruit can be that simple.
 

An up-close shot of the famous 100-year old egg.  The white stuff it is sitting on is just plain tofu. If only pics had smell-o-vision.

An up-close shot of the famous 100-year old egg. The white stuff it is sitting on is just plain tofu. If only pics had smell-o-vision.

But I digress, as usual. Back to Tainan, which is the oldest and fourth-largest city in Taiwan (therefore much smaller than Taipei). While I’ve enjoyed Taipei because modern conveniences are a rarity to me when I travel, it’s nice to see something that has a bit more “grit” and character—yet still clean and full of the same wonderful people that we see everywhere. Aside from being Taiwan’s oldest city, it’s also home to many notable temples and even more bake shops, street food, and restaurants than we could possibly ask for. Continuing with the theme of eating our way through Taiwan, we’ve already had several local favorites, such as fish ball soup, noodles with mince, and even a 100-year old egg—yet another Taiwanese item of acquired taste. See, I figured, the stinky tofu wasn’t horrible…so how bad can a smelly old egg be? I admit it looks pretty foul—the egg is preserved for 100 days in a mixture of salt, liquid, and quicklime to produce the end result, which is a sickly, dark green yolk surrounded by an egg white that has turned a translucent brown. While not appetizing to look at, to the palate it was just a really strong and smelly egg. Even my friend Jared—sworn enemy of stinky tofu and resistor of all things potentially foul—tried the egg and declared it wasn’t that bad. That’s a massive seal of approval.

Hmm. Quicklime is simply limestone transformed by heat. Therefore, 100-year old eggs are—on a much smaller scale—simply limestone, water, and time. It’s a stretch, but I think there’s a theme here…

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About colleen finn

Colleen Finn is a globe trotting, sight seeing, day tripping, frequent flying traveler with a penchant for voluntourism.

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