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, March 26, 2015

Living Clean in Yilan

Beach Clean Up organized by Rising Sun Surf Inn

I try to keep a healthy lifestyle which isn't impossible when your sh*% broke and working part time. I learned first hand that more important than "clean eating" is quality life. Downsizing my work schedule, and my stress level, even for half my salary is quality life. Changing my kid's school to one that has 2 half days, more playtime and her telling me on a daily basis she is happy- is quality life. Eating clean is important, but not as vital as having a minimally stressed environment. Even organic produce can be affordable when Taiwan greens are always available, many people have their own little gardens and fruits are always coming into season. Legumes are cheap and go a long way.  For example, just today for her post school snack, we had a fruit shake with red dragon fruit, banana, papaya, kefir and chia. (Ok chia seeds are dear, but it doesn't take much).

Healthy Food:
They are all really small shops here, not like the massive Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in the States. Between the following three places I can almost get everything I need. For rice milk, almond milk, wild salmon and Greek yogurt, Costco is where it's at. Carrefore has organic sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flax and chia, and recently quinoa.

All three of the following have organic wheat flours, flax, chia, organic seeds and legumes, rolled rye flakes and the same crackers, bean noodles, soba noodles and physilium powder. Incidentally after 7 years living in Taiwan (mostly Tainan) I finally found Stevia extract. Unfortunately its flavored which is weird, but you can get it from Subodhi Yoga in Loudong for 288NT a bottle.

1.幸福滋味 (homepage) XingFu Health Food Store (Facebook)
Tel: (03) 932-1568
Times: 9-12:30 and 2:30-7

This is my raw milk connection. I order 3 bottles and they come in every Tuesday for 255 NT total. Sometimes I make yogurt or kefir. I won't drink pasteurized if I have the choice. They're located across from the girl's High School a block down from 8Nana's. They have other goods including non bleached, organic cotton, brown rice noodles, incense, organic veggies. You can order online too.

2.  Santa Cruz on Zhongshan road just after it forks,  from Yixing Rd. coming from Yilan train station towards Loudong its on the right corner.
260 宜蘭市中山路二段139號
tel. (03)933-3551

 Taiwan's island wide chain. At the Yilan branch I get brown rice vinegar, molasses, cereal for my daughter, kefir and kefir starter which I'm making my own now. They also have lots of hormone free frozen meat, teas, organic baking powder and yeast. I bought some organic Okinawa Matcha Tea (read The Newest Tea Craze, if your'e not already a fan).  They also have maxi pads, tampons and panty liners with non-bleached materials.

3. Leezen 里仁
I'm not sure if they are a chain but they have a branch in Taipei.
宜蘭市中山路三段174 號
tel: (03)93334268

This store has lots of veggies, brown rice milk in powdered form. I bought some organic apple cider vinegar with the mother culture to start to grow my own kombucha  Scoby, and brown rice cakes and breads from organic flour. They also have several nut butters (no almond butter though) and more of a beauty section.

4.綠園有機 生活館
tel: (03) 9355767

This shop is really small, they don't sell any refrigerated items, all dried. Their pumpkin seeds and rye flakes are cheaper though. I also bought vegetarian powdered bouillon with none of the MSG and crap in it.

5. Vegan Bakery
tel: (03)9321490
Hours: 11:00-2:00 and 5:00-7:00

On the corner of Jiankang Sec 1 and Lanfeng Rd where it forks. I'm dubious it's indeed vegan because  it  seems like a normal Taiwanese bakery and  they sell both soy and cow's milk. My Sri Lankan vegan neighbors told me about this place.

6. Adrian's Bakery
tel: (03)9320309
Hours: 11am-8pm closed Mondays

Can't beat living around the corner of a French bakery, with imported French butter, flour and zero additives all baked by a French baker. Amazing quality and flavor. Highly recommended. You can order or reserve anything.

7. Yilan Honey Museum
403 Yuanshen Rd Sec. 2. Yuanshen Township
tel: (03) 9233668
Hours: 8:00- 17:00

One can't be too careful about honey, its often diluted in Taiwan. Here the honey is amazing and its often comparable or cheaper than the questionable supermarket brands. Right now they have a special on winter honey. Its pale and thick and imaginably perfect on homemade bread fresh out of the oven with butter. Next payday I am going back to see if there's any winter honey left and also buy a big jar of royal jelly. They also sell propolis, honey vinegar, honey cake, ice-cream and pollen. They all taste heavenly. I really don't get excited about honey cake after years of getting my hopes up, only to be disappointed but I can actually taste the honey in this one.

Me at the Yilan County Gov't park

I pretty much practice alone in the park in nicer weather, but I of course would love to find a nice local studio. I recently started teaching private lessons in people's homes. I have found a few studios around town and since I have time will be sure to check them out. I'm pretty picky though; there's nothing worse than paying for a yoga class and being let down because a) its not really yoga   b) the teacher doesn't know what he/she is doing- but that can happen anywhere. (I had an amazing teacher in  Tainan who seriously pushed my limits and comfort zones)

Driving around Yilan I found:

1. Sun Yoga
11 Jiankang Road, Yilan City
tel. 0952-937-760

30 classes cost 3600NT, 50 cost 5500NT, 100 classes cost 10,000NT. They have mostly aerobics and the clientele looks like older middle aged women. The owner speaks English and offered me a free class to check it out.

2. Having Fun with Yoga Studio
tel. 0952-090156
Its at the corner of Fuxin Rd Sec 1 and Jiankang Rd Sec 2, across from Cafe 85 above Ok Mart on the 2nd Floor. Their classes are every morning (M, T, W, Fri.) 7:40-8:40 and evenings (Tuesday and Thursday) 5:40-6:40. They also have packages.

3. L'amigo Gym , Super Fitness Gym  and World Gym(scroll down to Gyms)

4. Life Long Center- It's basically a recreation center that offers all kinds of classes for kids and adults, from arts and crafts, Japanese, computers, dance and of course yoga. Its across from Zhongshan Park, on the corner in a red brick building. They have several classes of different styles of yoga, quite cheap, but they wouldn't let me peak in and see what kind of class/teacher I'd be paying for. You pay for a 3 month block. The current session just started March 13 and ends May 1. For example there is an afternoon weight loss yoga class, from the description of using asanas to open blocked meridians for better organ function (sounds good right?) costs 2600NT for 3 months, once a week  90 minute class. I will be there in May.

Back Care

I have a scoliosis in my lower back so one leg is slightly shorter than the left. I also twisted my pelvis in a bad fall (or I should say beach side throw down playing rugby-not a smart choice) and I still think I am only mostly recovered. I get piriformis syndrome under stress, or sitting standing too long and of course modern life with cell phones and computers doesn't' help-so long story short- I need a back care specialist and I need to stay active. Yoga certainly helps. I am sure my back would be in worse shape without it.

1. Dr. Wu  Jing-Yi
265 Yixing Road #83
Email: whaley@yahoo.com.tw

He is located at Yixing and Fuxin Rd. From the train station heading towards Yilan Sports Park, he is just after Fuxin on the right side.

This guy studied this type of medicine in Japan for 15 years and its extremely rare to find in Taiwan.  He is basically a chiropractor but doesn't manipulate or crack any bones. He uses his hands, fingers, elbows to massage trigger points along the meridians to release the tension of tissues around the bones, so that they go back in place gently and without pain. His type of medicine is more yin to the yang of western chiropractic medicine. Like a good doctor he explains exactly what he's doing as he's doing it in very good English. It's also a bit like Thai massage, where he will also stretch the body as he is massaging trigger points.  He was recommended to me by the lovely couple at Mr. Balagov's Cafe. He is not covered by National Health but each visit is 600NT, less than a massage and he often treats me well over an hour, sometimes two if I am really in  need. Usually I go to him when I am in bad shape pain-wise from my piriformis.

2. Renji Clinic
This clinic is TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The head doctor here was recommended to me by my current boss who tweaked his neck years ago body surfing in Nanfang'ao during a typhoon, They use acupuncture, hooked up to electricity. I did this in Tainan and found it excruciating, I think my nerves are too sensitive to the electricity, but its certainly effective and faster results than with just needles alone. My boss raved about this place, and especially the head doctor who also goes to clinics around Yilan County. I will check him out as he is covered by Taiwan's National Health insurance.

Gyms are not an option budget wise for me, although Yilan sports park is 50 NT a pop to use their weight room. I usually do body weight workouts, TRX or kettlebells at home. There are so many bike trails and hiking trails should the weather favor me. Still I miss the comradely of the gym, the usual goers, the cable machine, bosu ball and the assisted pull-up machine.

1. L'amigo

Its near my back care doctor on Yixing Rd. on the other side of the street near Shabu Shabu. I've heard they are overpriced so I haven't checked them out, they have a weight room and yoga classes.

2. Power Fitness Leisure Club
I've heard they are affordable, I should check them out.

3. YOY Climbing Wall
Located just outside Yilan City. It doesn't look like a climbing wall from the outside and the sign is pretty ghetto looking but the walls are new. For women  its free, kids and men pay 100NT per person. The walls aren't so high maybe 3 stories, yet one of  them is extremely difficult and they have harnesses and ropes to practice technical climbing. I had my kid's 9th birthday party here (see The Two Faces of January).

4. Super Fitness
278 Zhongshan Road, not far from the train station, a block south of Santa Cruz Health Food store. This place has small classes, about 6 people as the spaces are small of TRX, crossfit, body weight and barbell/dumbell/kettlebell weight classes.  They also have lots of yoga, but its all very yin, soft style, which is great for body builders, but no Power/Ashtanga (I might sell myself as a power yoga instructor). They also sell Herbalife products and the staff are super friendly. It costs 1000NT for 5 classes and they have classes M-Sat from 10 am- 9pm.  I am so there for Crossfit. The owner's name is Maz Yo 0919-900-041 LINE ID: yusicchain

5. World Gym

My daughter cooling off in Yongchuan Cold Springs

Swimming Pools
1. Yilan Longchwen Pool (Its actually SW of Loudong and not in Yilan City)
tel: (03)958-1290
Hours: 5:00- 22:30

2. Silks Place Hotel- On the 6th floor they have a pool and spa free for guests, 700NT for non-guests. This hotel is attached to Lunar Plaza. I will call and ask how much the spa is if I am too lazy to take the 10 minute train to Jiaoxi's hot springs (which I think I can usually manage- mineral waters are worth it).
tel: (03)935-8800
Hours: 7:00-23:00

3. Yilan Sports Park- They did have a nice outdoor pool, but the hours were weird, very early and evening. I assume because Taiwanese prefer not to be in the sun. They have since bulldozed it and are reconstructing it.
tel: (03)925-4034

4. Yongchuan Pond- Its a good old fashion water hole, an actual cold spring, the local kids use- very refreshing in summer and free! Its not deep, maybe 4 feet and not long, maybe half the length of a full sized pool, but you could certainly do laps. It is super cold beside a banana grove, and its enjoyably emptier than Suao's cold spring s with more blue dragonflies and mozzies (be prepared). If you drive along Jiucheng S. Road turn left onto Huanhe Rd, but you quickly divvy off to the right and then you should find it on your left. There is parking across the street in a field, or take the bus! Just look for all the wet kids hanging around.

It's not difficult to embrace the clean living in Yilan. Just breathe in the fresh air after a rain, take a walk on a trail.

On the trail to Gaba Waterfall
++ I hope to be constantly updating this page. I know of another swimming pool and yoga studio, but lack the contact info- so coming soon.


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