About Me

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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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Family's First Visit to Formosa: Waterfalls and Dolphins

After Taipei, we quickly left the busy city for some slow paced, nature time in Yilan County.

A bunch of goofballs,Wofongci Waterfalls

We arrived in Jiaoxi (礁溪) and took a taxi to our guesthouse called Atayal Xiang, which was just around the corner. In the stifling heat with all their luggage, taking a taxi from the bus depot was the only option. There are really no side-walks on the main road.

Double room at Atayal Xiang

The owner Paul is an aboriginal (Atayal tribe) and very welcoming, helpful, knowledgeable and his place is clean, comfortable and well located. He was able to book us the boat tour to Turtle Island and rent a car to drive to Taroko, among regularly surprising us with delectable trays of exotic fruits and teas.

Dolphin watching tour, Turtle island in the background

There was a typhoon stalking our itinerary. I was a bit worried we would be stuck indoors as the tropical storm approached Yilan and was growing into a massive typhoon. Fortunately for us it changed direction and hit Okinawa severely, sadly peopled died there. For us it meant our afternoon boat and island tour to Turtle (Guishan) Island (龜山島) was rescheduled from 1pm to the morning, and we wouldn't be disembarking. On the way to the boat docks we stopped for some motion sickness pills, my daughter who gets sea-sick, staunchly refused to take them and later suffered.

It didn't take long for us to be surrounded by a large pod of dolphins. There were dozens on either side of the boat, babies with their mothers. Some of the show-offs did amazing leap displays. My camera phone couldn't catch a decent shot, so I had to just enjoy it in the imprints of my memories. It was a beautiful trip, but most all the Taiwanese were getting sick, the back of the boat was one large group puke fest and my stubborn daughter was among them, she didn't get to enjoy the dolphins at all. I was pretty disappointed we didn't get explore the island, but after 2 hours on the boat, I couldn't imagine the others having the stamina for the real tour. My folks and brother were relieved to be on dry land.

Back in Jiaoxi, we had some noodles, chili ice-cream and took a taxi to the Wofongci Waterfalls (五峰旗瀑布). It was an easy enough walk, 10 minutes to the first set of falls, maybe ten more to the top and most impressive of the falls, but the humidity took its toll on my family and they dragged their feet. Z and I made the most of their slow pace by frolicking in the cold mountain pools.

 We returned to Atayal Xiang exhausted, everyone took a pre-dinner siesta. I had to convince my mom to come experience the Japanese style hot springs.

Grandmother and granddaughter admiring the falls

I was uber-excited for my mom to experience the tranquility of an outdoor hot springs with the Japanese bamboo setting. It was our second time at these springs, but being nude in a public bath (separated by gender of course) was inhibiting for her. After a while, the soothing waters and natural setting worked their magic. She explored the different temperature pools and we returned to our guest house in a light rain which cooled the evening off. Everyone slept well that night.

We spent 2 nights and 3 days in Jiaoxi. I had to go apartment hunting in Yilan one afternoon with a new coworker and a couple of real estate agents, but came up empty handed. In my absence my family went to the fish foot spas and returned with many jokes of their experience.

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