Guests: The Heckles

Hungry for Urban Culture

This is what they came salivating for and this is what they got. It was Jack (my dad) and Wendy’s first trip to Asia. They came with A+ attitudes, ready to see, do and eat almost everything for two weeks. They live in a small town in Montana of about 8,000 people and we live in a small town in Taiwan of about 2.7 million so we felt confident we could fulfill their urban cravings.

This was a good omen, found in my dad’s pocket the week prior to arriving.

OK, let’s jump right in!

My dad wondered off (it’s a thing he does) and before he even knew he was lost, a local woman pointed him towards us. Taiwanese kindness and intuition… it’s so nice to have not lost him so early on the trip.

Selfie Culture. Nailed it!

Let the adventure begin…

Complimentary massages by strangers. Xiexie!

Tea ceremony



City bikes + a taste of the future

Jack riding like a Jetson
Pickles’ has his sights on the Gogoro (the Tesla of scooters)
Wendy, working it!

Market Day

My dad lapped up the Taiwanese cuisine with gusto. He ate everything, including the popular chicken feet. Apparently it’s good for your skin. Let’s just say he didn’t order another round.

The chicken foot while my friends goad him on
Sandy’s sister (second from left) runs this market stand at ‘Second Market’. Sandy (L) and Kinuko (R) are Mahjong buddies.

So much to see & do!

Theater, Science, Botanicals, Dinos, Turtles, MFA, Art Books & Aboriginal Canoes

Roll out the red carpet !
The theater’s rooftop is rad
Botanical Garden with red sunbrella
National Museum of Natural Science
They don’t have these in the Yellowstone River

Just an old tortoise, what’s the big deal everyone?

Book nerds

My awesomely nerdy bookish family at The National Museum of Fine Arts library. My dad wanted to spend a week here! Over 120,000 titles!

Snack Attacks

A favorite shaved ice treat
Happy hour at Zhongmen
Fruity teas cool our jets on a 90 degree day

Park Life

Back stretchers = good for health!

Temples & Motocycles

Jack was equally impressed with the famous Dajia Mazu Temple, built in 1770 as he was with the slick bike parked out front

Spa Day

Someone liked the pampering!

Road Trip to see 86 ft. Tall Buddha

Selfie Sticks are so fun!
Baguashan Buddha in Changhua (an hour south of us)… and eggs … in all sizes

Someone dropped their lens cap in the koi pond. DOH!
Selfie addicts!

Around town

Rooftop view from our apartment
Someone got on the “room for improvement” wall of shame
And quickly redeemed himself by making pancakes
Poinsettia shrubs in April?!?!?
OMG! OMG! OMG! Corgi Puppies!

The ultimate pupper uppers

Xie Mama’s

A special thing happened that we didn’t capture in photos. We were at Xie Mama’s for dinner, a small outdoor “food cart” surrounded by Xie Mama’s small urban garden. Sitting next to us was a woman with her young son, Little William. We learn she’s a music teacher and an accomplished musician (piano and violin). After we eat, she invites us to her home (less than a block away) for an impromptu concert. We’re not so sure Little William was in on this, but we graciously accepted her offer. Her husband who didn’t speak English was home (after a long day at work we assume) and here we are, all four of us strangers standing in his foyer. He welcomes us in, offers us fruit and makes us feel right at home. Little William was reluctant to play his violin, but after some nudging he accompanied his mom on the piano, without glancing at any sheet music. It was impressive. These are the small gems of life that we feel so fortunate to stumble upon here. THIS. This is what makes Taiwan so special.


National Palace Museum – 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, one of the largest in the world

Jack going for another local treat. Wendy… not so much.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Changing of the guard

Snappy foot work!
Ok, one more selfie
City bikes rock!

Cable Car to Tea Fields

Views of Taipei and Taipei 101 the tallest building in Taiwan (far right)

Snazzier than the Unitarians do!

Can you tell we’re related?

Field trip To Pingxi, lantern town

Write a wish and set it free

High Speed Happy Hour Rail home

Full moon rooftop drinks

We celebrated 8 years of marriage on April 11 with these two pros, married 32 years!

Town of Sanyi & Friends

Thirty minutes north of Taichung is the town of Sanyi, known to some as “Woodcarving Kingdom of Taiwan”. Many artists reside in this rural, quiet town including my pottery teacher, Wei Li. I texted him to see if he was around as I hadn’t seen him in a long time and he invited us all over for tea and lunch on what was a very rainy day. It was a special way to end our trip together, with new friends, surrounded by beautiful pottery over oolong tea and delicious homemade, local cuisine.

A painted steps mural leading up to a school
The feast with Wei Li (third from left) and his talented potter friends

And that’s how we do it

Aside from seeing family in person which makes our hearts explode with joy, is seeing Taiwan through their eyes. Taiwan is still a place we’re learning and exploring so there’s a double layer of thrill when we see guests experience this beautiful culture. This is what makes travel and living abroad so rewarding. We are constantly learning something new, often by the hour. And we are always learning something new about ourselves. We were told by a wise woman that the first person we would meet when we got off the plane would be ourselves. True.

With love and gratitude to Jack & Wendy for making this epic journey (and Tat & Joe from China). We savored every moment of it with you!


Pickles & Passionfruit

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9 thoughts on “Guests: The Heckles

  1. Wow!! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time! Loved seeing all the pictures. It was fun to see Sandy and Koneko in photos.

  2. Oh what a wonderful journal of this trip!!! You guys are sooo lucky to be able to share these experiences and make wonderful memories with your family!

  3. What a delightful journey to take through the eyes and apt wording of the “guest locals” and their visiting family; thanks for sharing your joys this way!

    1. Xiexie! Blogging is the new journal! Great for sharing with friends/fam and also ideal for us so can remember what the heck we’ve done in the years to come.

  4. What a wonderful experience for all of you. What a gift to share your adopted country with family! I’m loving all these posts.

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