Taiwan, part 3: Puyan

Photo of Chinese lanterns against blue sky
There has been a bit of a time lag between the last post
about Taiwan.  But the second part of the
adventure was what really defined our trip to Taiwan.
We had less than 24 hours in Taipei, so we woke relatively
early on our second morning there to pay a visit to the Xing Tiang temple which
we hadn’t had time to do the day before. 
Just outside the temple, there were a few foodstalls – steaming pots of
noodles and Taiwanese spring onion pancakes.  These are delicious, thick pancakes about
10cm in diameter, finished off on an ‘omelette’ (basically, the cook breaks and
egg onto his hot plate, mixes it up and it attaches itself to the pancake) and
seasoned with either plum or chilli sauce.  My mouth is watering just typing about it now.
After the temple we figured we had enough time to see one
more sight before catching our train to Taichung.  I had planned on going to the Chiang Kai-Shek
memorial hall, but somehow got it mixed up with the Sun Yatsen memorial
hall.  It was a pretty sight, and gave us
another glimpse of Taipei 101.
Next stop, Taipei Railway Station.  It is a HUGE station where both regular and
High Speed trains depart from.  I’d
booked our tickets online and needed to pick them up at the station.  It was such an easy process – I queued at the
ticket desk, handed over my reference number and 2 tickets were produced.  The whole process of travelling on the High
Speed Railway (HSR) was remarkable.  The
trains are immaculate and very comfortable. 
The platforms are also immaculate and clearly labelled so you know where
to wait for your carriage.  And it was so
fast – I guess they don’t call it ‘High Speed’ for nothing!
Petula, Jianyu and Viola met us at Taichung station and
drove us to Jianyu’s family home in Puyan District, Changhua County.  His family live in a lovely rural spot – the town
complete with 2 beautiful temples.

On the first night, Jianyu’s mother had prepared a wonderful
dinner for us to eat – a variety of dishes including chicken, fish and
veg.  Delicious.  Jianyu’s dad cracked open the whisky which
Simon enjoyed!  After dinner we were
taught to play Mahjong.  I’ve often seen
Chinese ladies playing this game – moving tiles with pretty pictures on at
lightening speed, with the odd yelp of joy when they get a good tile or proclamation
of disgust when they don’t.  It turned
out to be a competitive, fun game not dissimilar to Rummikub.  We played it well past midnight with a mix of
cousins, friends and whoever else seemed to be passing by.  Great fun.
We spent the next morning wandering around the village,
enjoying the sunshine, the rural scenes and just catching up with friends.  For lunch we were taken to an outstanding
Japanese restaurant nearby.  The food was
plentiful and delicious.  That afternoon
we ventured to a town called Lugang which had some lovely temples and a great
street/night market.  We were so full
from lunch, otherwise we may have tried even more than we did!  We did buy some delicious ginger tea and eat
some sweet biscuits flavoured with coriander.

Taiwan really captured our imagination and we’d love to go
back and explore more of the country. 
Simon discovered an open-water swim which takes place there, so perhaps
we’ll make it back that way in September for that!

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