ALVIN'S VISITIn the beginning of December, I had a guest from America come visit me. His name is Alvin, and he’s a friend of a friend. Apparently we’d met each other a few years ago in Los Angeles, but neither of us remembered that very well. Anyway, he’s just begun a multi-year trek around the world, and decided to start with Taiwan. He came over for one rainy day in Keelung. I had lunch plans with my friend Christine, so I brought Alvin along and she brought her friend Mindy along. Ah, never underestimate the freedom of a car! There are of course much better ways to get around, but nothing beats the flexibility of having your own vehicle at your disposal. First we drove out to Hepingdao for lunch, and had shark soup! It came in three forms: jellied, deep-fried, and…something else. It was very good. After that we headed up the mountain to Jinguashi, to a remote teahouse that Mindy really wanted to take us to. It took quite a bit of time to find it, after getting lost twice, but eventually we got there. It was truly a magical place, made even more so by the dense fog hanging over Jinguashi. This place also had rooms for rent, though I have none to show you here. Each room was different, and most opened out onto one porch or another. They all had the standard raised sleeping platforms (leftovers from the Japanese occupation). The general rule in Asia seems to be that if the floors are wood, you’ll probably won’t be allowed to wear your shoes, but on anything else you can. Each room in this house had its own bathroom, and some of those had very nice red tile floors, and others were filled with stones, like a miniature beach!
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson