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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Xiao Liuqiu Yu

A view of the beach from the road. We later went back to this beach near the end of our trip.
Bihn and Erica picked us up bright and early as we drove 2 hours outside of Pindong to catch the 30 minute ferry from Dongang to Baishe Harbor in Xiao Liuo Xiou. I have been wanting to go there for some time, especially since my former coworkers always went and raved about it. Both Bihn and Erica were worried about getting seasick and forgot about buying some motion sickness meds at the pharmacy. I knew Z and I would be fine, especially after our island hopping around Penghu. The ferry ride was packed and undramatic. After we docked we were bombarded with agressive middle aged women trying to rent us their scooters and followed one them back and rented scooters for 200NT for the day. I brought Z's helmet and we were off.



Lingshan Temple on the cliff
 Our first stop right around the corner and on the cliff was the Lingshan Temple overlooking the sea. It was about 9 am and I was already sweating, the sun was strong and I was glad to have the sun on my skin. I lathered up Z w/ sunscreeen and checked out the temple. In some strangeway it reminded me of Haife, Israel and the Ba'hai temple/shrine overlooking the sea there. There was this huge coral rock above a water well and Z enjoyed plopping rocks into it as we snapped photos. We went back to 7-11 for batteries, water and snacks and hopped on our scooters following the road around the coast.
Lingshan Temple




The island was bigger than I imagined. I guess I imagined something like on of the smaller islands of the Pengu archipelago, but Xiao Liuqiu had a few roads that somehow intersected each other and we stopped sometimes to check out our maps. The next stop was some observation center that was void of people. We went down some spooky steps that looked dangerous and a bit flooded that opened out to a nice pavilion (and clean toilets) to admire the radiantly clean turquoise water.



We kept going and stopped at another temple, followed the road behind it and looked for a beach. What we found were people wading in calf length water, kids playing, some aunties catching something edible. There were sea urchins, different varieties of seaweed and starfish (which Z was loving). With the tropical sun shining down, it had this dazzling effect, of making everything sparkle and shimmer. The colors of  the rock were amethyst and coruscating with the different colors of fish, sea weeds, looking like jewels. It had this otherworldly feel. We kept exploring and found water filled caverns to wade through and squeeze through and were rewarded with hidden coves and beaches. It was magical, I felt like some kind of water faerie.

In fact, Erica took a picture of me and she said "you're glowing" and I said "no I'm sweating" and she replied " No I mean you're glowing white like a ghost!" And I was! Me so olive and tanned, I was turning into phosphorescence. I used photo editing software in the picture and adjusted the light to tone it down so I could have some skin color, these rocks and whatever jewels were in the water had some kind of ethereal effect on me.





When we were starting to get hungry we got back on our scooters and looked for a place to eat. We stopped at an overlook to admire some beautiful beaches (which we returned to later) and stopped for an ice coffee and ice-cream across from a hiking trail crowded with tourist buses (which we decided to forgo) and kept on going looking for a place to eat. I secretly prayed for a nice place and Erica stopped at the water rescue center and we went to  a place they recommended in the middle of the island. It looked very nice inside, very clean, table cloths, clean bathroom and empty. We ordered and were almost finished when the crowds came. They served a seaweed salad only found on this island which was good. We had orange fish, pork, a nice  fried rice. The meat sauce was just too sweet, it really wasn't for me but I ate it, of course Z didn't like it, but with Bihn's influence (who is her teacher) she managed to eat something.



After lunch Z was getting very tired and falling asleep on the bike. I knew that a melt down would be inevitable considering I had to get her up at the crack of dawn and she wasn't going to get a nap. Bihn wanted to check out the Lobster Cave which ended up being a waste, we followed the coast road, went to the nice white sand beach by the harbor, but I didnt like the vibe there. The sand was nice, white and soft, but it was small, crowded with tour buses, a parking lot full of more tourists and no shade. We went back to find those beaches we admired in the morning.

On the way we stopped at some shops near 7-11 to buy me something to swim in as I was dying to really get wet and I forgot our suits. Of course most of them looked like grandma swimming suits and I ended up with surfer shorts which was fine. Z had a whopper of a meltdown providing comic relief (and fear?) to the locals.  Z wanted me to buy her this beach dress. I didn't have the money and I knew I could get it cheaper in Tainan so I said ,"no." But when she has her mind set on something she is as stubborn as they come and I had to pick her up kicking and screaming acting like a wild banshee, she was not letting go of that dress she even was holding onto it with her teeth and I thought, "well I'm gonna have to but it anyways now." I was kind of too tired to care and Bihn wanted to give it a go with her and talk it out w/ her. Bihn was saying if she calmed down and whatnot Bihn would buy her the dress and I was like, "Bihn forget it, she lost it back there, don't reward her". Its kind of like bribing her to calm down. I understand she is beyond tired, but biting dresses is nuts. I sat her on the curb and told her of she didn't calm down I was going to ask these aunties to watch her for a couple of hours so I can enjoy the rest of my day. That was enough to calm her down and get her on the bike. After we were mobile she started talking morbid thoughts beyond the level of a 4 year old about death and dying (I cant remember exactly what she said, only that I was disturbed by it), stopped the scooter and said, "that's enough!" and after that she was fine.



Z, Erica and Bihn exploring the otherworldly coral coves. 

We found one of those beaches, which up close didnt have nice sand, lots of coral but in our tired states we still managed to chill and enjoy the end of the day. The sun was now not so strong. Erica crashed like a beach bum in the shade of some rocks, I plopped myself on some driftwood and Bihn and Z farmed seaweed. Z loves the water so she was in a prefect mood after that. When the sun was getting cooler we headed back to the harbor. On our way we made an accidental detour near Beauty Cave. Outside the Coco Resort was the most beautiful, quaint guesthouses (like cabins) overlooking a green field beside the turquoise sea. Not to be confused with the place next to it that was sandwiched w/ cabins and looked like a nice option for next years staff trip.



When I saw this place, I imagined it as a nice place to have a casual, no frills style beach wedding (not exactly beach) where the view is more important than the dress. They only had a handful of cabins, maybe 5 or six, including breakfast and a dinner BBQ. We made plans to come back and stay there. It looked very romantic. I can picture me sipping something, book in one hand overlooking Z running in the green grass, us having breakfast in front of our little cabin overlooking the sea. Sunsets must be stunning there. The air was clean and we could sea Kaohsiung out in the distance. Hard to believe that a place so close to Kaohsiung could be that clean.

Erica found an English school near the harbor and wow I considered for a moment what it might be like making a life here.We headed back to Dongang and took a detour outside of Pingdong to have some famous pork knuckles. I didnt like the pork meat, it wasn't like meat, it had this jelly consistency (" hen Q!"). In my defense I am a recent meat eater and didn't grow up in a home eating pork and after that was a vegetarian for 17 years. I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid after giving birth and had to start eating meat, so eating meat especially pork has all happened here in Taiwan (but thats another story). This restaurant did have a lovely wonton soup and mt greens stir fried with little dried anchovies and salted black beans which was heavenly.









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