Flash from the past!
My dear friend of 25+ years, Steve, came to visit with his girlfriend, Kendra. In short, Steve was and still is my art appreciating and fun as hell friend. Back in the day we used to hang out at his gallery, drinking coffees from Central Market, discussing the creative world at hand and what time we should meet up at the Dispensing Co. for beers and dancing. I was over the moon when he said they were coming to visit us.
When you visit us…
you’re guaranteed a blog post (complimentary!) and a foot massage at Young Song Massage, my favorite place, perhaps on earth aside from Japanese onsens. First you are first provided complimentary bloomers and we all look cute in bloomers. Then your feet are soaked and jacuzzi-ed for 15 minutes while your upper back and head are massaged (includes a cooling gel and hot towel treatment).
Then, you are taken to the puffy recliner zone for deep relaxation of more noggin massage and an hour foot/calf massage. But wait, there’s more! Then you’re escorted to a cafe setting for complimentary tea and herbal jelly. It’s amazing. All for $21 USD. Open 24 hours.
We didn’t skimp on these. We had lots of catching up to do and between Kendra’s knowledge of medicine, her career as a nurse and delivering babies for the Amish community we had some fascinating conversations. Steve and Scott even got a word in on occasion.
When you visit we may scare the poop out of you sightseeing via city bikes. It’s exhilarating to say the least, being nestled up against a pack of scooters and all. These two cruised like urban pros though.
We may have scared the poop out of them again hiking in Dakeng (the mountain range 30 minutes east of us). Ok, I’ll admit it, some parts are steep, but these two are fit as fiddles so we knew they could handle it. It’s simply a very different way of hiking than we’re accustomed to in the USA. In Taiwan, hiking is like stairmasters, but on logs of wood that go straight up like a ladder. Switchbacks don’t compute here.
Big City Kicks
After a couple days together in Taichung, the three of us took the high speed rail to Taipei for one night and a day of sightseeing. We went to temples, Taipei 101 (the tallest building in Taiwan), saw the changing of the guards at the National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, explored a night market, applied evening facial masks from 7-11, and sought out the perfect tea pot set for Kendra and her daughter. The “double happiness” teapot for two was secured in the groovy historic Dihau neighborhood and happy hour was satisfied at cozy Le Zinc cafe. That’s big city success!
After that, I cut the tour guiding tether. For the next couple days they boldly ventured east to Jiufen and then Hualien by way of trains for more sightseeing and cultural immersion. I took the high speed rail back to Taichung.
This was the last I saw of them…
Cheers to friendship
This wooden plaque is called an Ema (絵馬, lit. “picture-horse”). They’re most common in Japan at Shinto and Buddhist places of worship or in front of Young Song Massage in Taiwan. Worshippers write prayers or wishes on them, this sweet message was written by Kendra. The ema are left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) are believed to receive them.
Steve and Kendra, thank you for coming all the way over to this wild part of the world to hang out, eat dumplings and drink Taihu beer with us. It was a heart- and belly-filling treat! May we definitely meet again…
Pickles & Passionfruit
P.S. Steve, I’ll reach out if your Starbucks receipt wins the Taiwanese lotto, 40/60 right? Wondering what this jibber jabber is all about? See #25 for a full explanation.
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