Day 251: Road Trip

Sun. 21st April 2013

Its someone's birthday! Shame that Ceilin is hidingAh, the joys of getting the family ready for trips.  I have to say that I’d blotted out of my mind how hard it is to get children ready to go out. Still, we were aiming for 9am and actually left at around 9:35, so that is not too bad – and there was only one return back to the apartment for a forgotten item. Also, if truth be told, it was as much down to us as Ceilin and Jamie as there were a few things we wanted to get sorted out whilst we had a decent internet connection.

Motorway service station, Taiwan styleRob wants to show us as much of Taiwan as possible and particularly for us to see why it was named Ihla Formosa (beautiful island) by the Portuguese. On our previous visits, pretty much all we have seen is urban sprawl apart from a brief trip out to a hot springs and waterfall when we were over for his wedding (13 years ago now). The island is twice the size (area) of Wales but with 7 times the population, or 25% of the size of England with 33% of the population. However you look at it, it is quite a small island and quite densely populated.

What's on the menu in the Beef Noodle Restaurant?On our road trip, we first head south – actually to the very southern tip of the island – to the beach resort of Kending. Its about a 4 hour drive and as we head south, the scenery slowly changes. First there are more (or even, some) paddy fields. Then there are bigger gaps between the blocks of houses, then some different crops and even some unfarmed areas. Finally, we hit the coast and we follow the road round the tip of the island watching the beaches with their signs for parascending, banana rides and beach inflatables as well as loads of Go-karting tracks. Its just a shame that it isn’t a bit sunnier and warmer.

What do you mean, you don't like pig's intestines?We stop for lunch at a Beef Noodle Restaurant. As well as selling what you would expect from the name of the restaurant (which actually was very tasty) they have other dishes on the menu including pig trotters and pig intestines. Rob tried to persuade me that they were very good but I’ve heard that one before (e.g. Durian fruit) and so we stayed well away! The menu also gave me an excuse to try out the translation app on my phone – point the phone camera at some Chinese text and the screen shows the English translation. Very, very clever and possibly good enough to get us out of a hole in the absence of Chinese speakers.

The hotel is even chintzy at nightOur hotel tonight is the chintzy and cheesy Chateau Beach Resort – a ginormous hotel complex with what look to be hundreds of rooms but only 3 westerners staying (Rob, Janet & myself). The reception area has a shop that seems to only sell pink things and beside the entrance to it there are 3 musicians playing schmaltzy, saccharine pop songs. Still, we get a family room beside Rob’s which is very spacious and nicely appointed (e.g. nothing pink; high speed internet) and is quite possibly the best (most luxurious) room we have stayed in on our trip. Thank you, Sian.

Heading off for a swimWhen Ceilin and Jamie are asked what they want to do, the answer is instantaneous and unanimous – down to the beach for a swim. The wind is blowing the sand around sufficiently that it stings bare legs; the skies are grey and the water is only just about warm (and possibly only when compared with UK beaches). However, none of this matters. There follows a good 30 minutes of swimming, splashing, dunking, shrieking, laughing, clambering, racing fun. It was just great to mess about with the kids and to see them having such a good time. The lifeguard had issued us with floats and/or lifejackets and these just all added to the fun. Even after tiring of the sea we only headed to the swimming pool for more of the same. No prizes for guessing whether it is the kids or the adults who get cold and tired first!

The neverending pleasure of the beachIn the evening, we headed, en masse, for the restaurant which, like the rest of the hotel, was huge and the buffet, which was gargantuan. There was even one other westerner there (though he seemed to be with his Taiwanese family too). We are not normally fans of buffet meals but this one was really good with so much choice – both Western and Taiwanese food – and well presented and tasty too. The restaurant was so busy that the dishes were constantly being topped up with freshly cooked food. I made so many journeys to refill my plate!

Its my Birthday!Sian had also managed to arrange for a birthday cake to be presented to Janet – she even had the singer from reception lead the rendition of Happy Birthday (so at least one person was in tune!)  I had been worrying for a while as to how to mark Janet’s birthday and get her at least one surprise. Presents were going to be tricky given the need to carry them for a further 3 months and we had previously agreed that our birthday presents to each other this year is this round the world trip. This will be one of her more unusual birthdays and hopefully one of the most memorable.

This entry was posted in Asia, RTW Trip and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *