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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Road Trip Taiwan, Day One

I’m back from our Four Day Six Hundred Mile Easter Holiday Company Outing Island Road Trip that took us from banana and pineapple plantations by the Pacific shore across an ice-covered 11.500 foot pass (Hehuanshan) where we played with snowmen and then drove on to return back to the tropics proper five hours
later. This is definitely my favorite route around the northern half of the island: Stranded blowfish shoals! Roadside monkeys! Breakfast banana cake! Cloud forests! Bearded firs! Towering cliffs! Stone rhinos! And - of course - more! (did I mention steamed lobster with wasabi?)

Here’s my report, for those of y'all who didn’t fit in the car:

Day One:
Starting in Taipei County and ending in Suao/Nanfangao, the road led us east along the northern coastline with its picturesque fishing villages, rocky outcrops, endless pebble beaches and a nuclear power plant or two.

This rare specimen of a Taiwanese Pebble-Gobbling Rhino dwells right outside Shimen.

Sweet potatoes - nowhere better than in Sanchih County! (Also double as large-bore artillery shells)

Bisha Harbor, one of the largest seafood markets on the island.

Coastline

Japanese fin de si├Ęcle gold processing plant outside of Jiufen
At Fulong Beach, we were treated to the eerie sight of dozens of beached porcupine pufferfish. No other species of fish was present, only the porcupines. A quick investigation into the matter revealed that they must have been pulled
out by anglers (the Taiwanese are completely crazy about seafood) and thrown back in because they're not exactly convenient to prepare for the dinner table.

Alas, that did't keep this intrepid blogger from getting a quick protein fix. Maybe he should have read up on the genus Diodon first: When inflated they pose a major difficulty to their predators: a large diodon fully inflated can choke a shark to death.

One creature's trash is another one's lifeboat.
No place in Taiwan is further than 45 miles away from the ocean, as the crow flies, and seafood's a way of life. This was our dinner that day, in a harbor restaurant at Nanfangao.


Day 2 Report coming tomorrow!