October has been a popular month for visitors! Rightly so, the weather is only hot versus really hot. So on the heels of Mark’s visit, we welcomed Alison and Aaron, from Portland. These two work at Nike. One was here for work, and both were here to eat!
Friend & Dumpling rendezvous
Meanwhile, we also welcomed new Nike expats to the ‘hood: Michelle, Alex and Eloise (also from Portland). They moved here in early September and are settling in to all the new crazy and blogging about it. It’s been really fun to see Taiwan through fresh eyes again. Lucky us, they found an apartment in our building so Pickles can finally be Kramer and we get the benefit of their much higher floor for sunset happy hours. They also love to eat so we’re on a mission to devour all dumplings, gua bao (Taiwanese hamburgers) and bubble teas together.
Working off the DumplingsWe hit our favorite local hiking trails, just east of our apartment, 30 minutes by car. There’s a network of 10 trails within the Dakeng Scenic Area ranging from mild calf burner to extreme calf burner. We went for mild burner as it was a scorcher of a day.
From Yard to ChopstickOn this hike there are many, many chicken restaurants, all nestled along the narrow roads that we hiked on to get to the trailhead. They all look the same, but my friend Julia (right) recommended this chicken restaurant, so we went. Locals know best. We know it’s fresh because the backyard was clucking with chickens!
International Jazz FestAlison and Aaron didn’t know this but their trip coincided with the big annual Int. Jazz Fest which is 3 blocks from our apartment. It’s one of our favorite public events, all outside and free. It’s basically the Tanglewood of Taichung for 9 days straight, rain or shine. A few things I love about this event aside from the music, which is endearingly hit or miss:
- Considering there are thousands of people covering every square inch of grass, it’s really relaxing.
- It seems there are no rules, nor police because no one is misbehaving. You can byo alcohol, food, real candles… no problem. Everyone is responsible. Everyone is polite.
- Everyone takes off their shoes before getting on their blanket.
- No concerns of anyone taking anything. That feeling of I need to “watch my stuff” doesn’t exist here. My American brain still can’t get over this especially at crowded events.
- It ends promptly at 9:30 pm, which is perfect for those who turn into pumpkins at 10 pm, like us.
Happy 823 … I mean 832 Birthday!As we were biking around town, temple touring, we came upon this more than usual decked-out temple. Turns out it’s this temple’s god’s birthday which explained all the food offerings. In typical Taiwan fashion, they welcomed us in to look around. The cake had 823 when we entered and was quickly changed to 832 while snapping photos. Nice to know that forgetting birthday years is universal.
Outta Town, Tea Field TripWe had a day to play while Scott was at work so we went deep into tea country – west of the Jade Mountain region. Taiwan grows a lot of tea and is famous for oolong (a tea between green and black tea fermentations). To me, the smell of oolong is intoxicating and has become a synonymous scent with Taiwan, which is superior to Taiwan’s other famous scent, stinky tofu. We hiked up Eryanping Trail which provided fantastic panoramic views. We were literally in the clouds with not a soul around except for the tea workers watering the tea plants.
Tea Tasting & Chinese Zodiac BrainstormMichael, our driver (a full-time Nike employee) recommended this place for a tea tasting (he’s the tall one). We always say yes to a local. It was such a treat because we were the only ones there, enjoyed copious amounts of oolong teas, and enjoyed very good tea eggs. The illuminating part of the afternoon was the discussion surrounding our Chinese zodiac animals and what our name would be if we were to get such a name translated in Chinese and then put on a stamp. A brainstorm ensued, partly in Mandarin, so I can’t share the evolution, but in summary: Aaron would be Lazy Pig (somewhat self-given) and Alison would be Best Horse.
Tea Producing Areas of Taiwan (we were in the blue zone)
Persimmon season is here!
More Chicken!Did I mention Taiwan loves fresh chicken? On the way back to Taichung, Michael recommended this place for chicken and it did not disappoint. It’s currently my favorite chicken place which is partly because the chicken was amazing and there were chicken hats.
And… the Chinese Zodiac Stamps
Back in Taichung, Michael helped us find a stamp shop, which are also key making shops. They’re everywhere. The interesting thing about stamps is that most people have one with their full formal name on it. It’s used to sign formal documents.
We wanted to get our newly given Chinese zodiac names minted so we too could start stamping formal documents. I can tell you that the guy making these stamps was perplexed, particularly by Lazy Pig.These guys took our dumpling eating to a whole new level, what we now call Dump’ Drunk. Once we can fit back in our jeans we hope to recreate this state of mind… or belly. We expect they’ll be first in line when Din Tai Fung opens in Portland this holiday. It’s about time Portland gets legit Taiwanese food! If you know of other legit Taiwanese food in PDX, please post below. Maybe I’ll come home sooner. 😉
Thanks for following us! Yours truly, with love, Pickles and Passionfruit (in stamp form below). Please feel free to call us Handsome Tiger and Can Do Ox too. We answer to both.
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