Guest: Mark from California

Mark’s 5 part trip to Taiwan & Japan

Mark and I go way back to 2006 when I was job hunting/interviewing in San Francisco (while living in Boston) – attempting to actualize my long-lived west coast dream. We met at a bar party where most people were well in with a couple of drinks. I wasn’t keen on drinking so Mark caught my eye… the guy drinking water. We hit it off and stayed friends ever since! He happens to be a top-notch mortgage broker so if you need a loan or refinance in the state of CA, I’ll connect you.

Mark’s 5 part Asian trip went like this:

(1)  Visit us in Taichung, Taiwan
(2)  Kenting Beach, a 2 night trip within Taiwan
(3)  Osaka, Japan
(4)  A monastery stay in Japan’s mountains
(5)  A friend reunion in Kyoto

Before Mark departed for Japan he said, “I feel like I’m playing with house money. That is, even though I have more travels ahead, this Asia trip is already a success.” I guess we’re getting pretty good at this hosting thing. Does that make us SUPER HOSTS?


Those dumplings didn’t stand a chance! This is a local neighborhood favorite, Blue Dumpling. Note the expert dumpling makers making their magic in the background.
We started and ended the trip with massages. Like dumplings, one is never enough.
Quick pit stop at the employee store to remedy a fashion faux pas.
Fresh grapefruit pulp in green tea with brown sugar bubbles (aka tapioca balls)!
Lunch at my favorite lunch spot called Su Mama with Ruji (my bestie at the shop). Mark devoured every dumpling and noodle here.
Admiring the local and interactive art scene
Gold leafed covered Donglong Temple entrance, originally built in 1706, destroyed by tsunami in 1894, rebuilt at this new site in Pingtung.
Year of the Bull, Dragon, Goat & Dog

There could be something about letting go of attachments and beauty in destruction here.

It’s year of the dog so this beautiful boat (built just for this ceremony) will get torched at a folk festival. Happens every 3 years. Basically gods are invited to earth, asked to carry trouble-causing demons and plagues away with them on a boat and boat is torched to the ground on the beach.
So many questions.
Mark had his demons exorcised
Bai Sha Wan Beach (White Sand Bay), Kenting
Hands-down our favorite beach in Taiwan. We floated ’til sunset.

Fun Fact: Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was shot partially in Taiwan, the director’s homeland. Water scenes were shot in both the southern part of the island (here) and in a specially built “water tank” in the Taichung. Does the feature photo of this blog makes sense now?

Middle-aged people trying to jump and look cool.
Kenting Night Market

Sad-weird night market occurrence. Again, so many questions.

Food on Sticks. Check.

Breakfast is almost always included in any stay in Taiwan. This was one of the best, a traditional Japanese breakfast.
We cruised the coastline checking out many beaches. This is Manzhou Beach. Not swimmable, but still beautiful.
Supporting our local coconut stand

Fengchuisha’s sublime views, weather and wind
Enjoyed a delicious meal at Kitchen Swell. Dessert? Quivering Tiramisu!
Back in Taichung!

Mark’s a baseball fan and our team the Brothers were playing one of the last games of the season. Unfortunately the Brothers didn’t make the playoffs, but the other three teams did. Despite that, we stand by our local Taichung team, the Brothers, always.

I can’t recall what the 4 fingers is all about?! Four more hot dogs?

Never a shortage of seats.
The Sisters lead the cheering.
Big Sister, aka Super Fan
Back In Our Hood
Taku, bowl style yumminess around the corner from our apt.

It sure was fun to reconnect with an old buddy over dumplings and new explorations. Thanks for including Taiwan in your Asian explorations, Mark! We’re happy we converted you to a Brothers fan for life too. I suppose our next meet-up will be in San Francisco for a Zazie brunch. Zàijiàn (see you again)!

pp

Pickles & Passionfruit


*** In Taiwan News ***

Transportation:  Taiwan’s electric scooter company, Gogoro has now installed more battery swap stations in Taiwan than there are gas stations. That’s 240,000 batteries in circulation making it the world’s biggest battery swap network. The Taiwan post office and DHL are replacing all gas powered scooters with Gogoro too. Progressive!

Arts:  Just opened is the Weiwuying National Center for the Arts (located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s third largest city after Taipei and Taichung). It’s designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben and can seat 20,000 people throughout various theaters. The entire complex is the largest performing arts center under one roof in the world. Taiwan knows how to support the arts!


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One thought on “Guest: Mark from California

  1. So nice to see Mark again! Remember him well from your fantastic wedding in San Fran!! Love the beaches. Love 🇹🇼 💕🐰great food, smiling people— what a delightful, special, peaceful country. Oh, Mark— it’s OK!!!! Shoe-fashion is personal—so are T-shirt styles – I occasionally wear Skechers—-just not around Scott….. Grrrrr!!! As soon as Nike fully funds my training program tho, I’m all in! ⚽️🤼‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🤸🏼‍♂️🏄‍♀️ Love, KTG

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