|it ain't Mongolia|
|reflecting how funny life can be|
|ecology culture coffee|
Our coastal road north brings us to Taitung. It's a small city. Our road almost takes us all the way past until we realise that we need to find the city centre. There's a lazy laid-back feel about the place which is a relative term in Taiwan. The whole nation seems rather relaxed compared to China. But here on the east coast it's chilling, man. We are being hosted by Liu here. He works at the city's Museum of Pre-history, history being the arrival of the Chinese immigrants, so it's really a museum of the Austronesian people in Taiwan. Liu is a very polite man, and maybe a little shy, but he welcomes us into his home with tea and cooks us a great bowl of noodles. He's the first Taiwanese we have seen cooking and, judging by his kitchen, and the noodles, he enjoys it. We enjoy his cooking too. Liu is really quite a crazy kind couch surfing host who never says no to anyone and has a large house to accomodate his guests. On our first evening we meet Pieter and Youi who have come on a visit from Korea and spend a happy hour or two chatting away.
|Taitung art village|
On Saturday Liu suggests we go for a ride in the surrounding countryside. Andrew and Suzanne, Czechs with very unCzech names (I think they were Andriy and Suzanna) stayed the night before and they are planning to catch a train but Liu persuades them to join us as we head up along the East Rift Valley which runs parallel to the coast. First we stop off at a soya milk farm where they produce not only the milk, but tofu and other soy milk products, none of which I can name. We can peek inside but the main thing to do is sit at an old cable reel set on its side and tuck into something like yoghurt and then a fried tofu dish. Both are great.
|steaming vats of soy milk|
|rice ready to plant out in the paddy|
Andrew and Suzanne head off northwards while we return towards the city, stopping off at a tea shop to try a selection of locally-grown teas. We are treated to the traditional tea-making ritual which is really a form of Chinese water torture to an Englishman. First the pot is filled with hot water and then the teacups are rinsed off. The water is poured away and while the pot is still warm, leaves are thrown in and then fresh water added. A splash of tea is poured into each cup and then tossed away before finally, after a little brewing the tea is poured.
|Chinese water torture|