Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Going Out Of The City With My Parent In Laws

Today we were suppose to go to Wei-Chuan Diary Farm but at the last minute, my brother in law who suppose to drive us there cancelled the trip because his wife is sick. And my father in law I guess took a pity on us, so drove us out of Taipei for a whole day.

I was quite impress actually with the beautiful view from the highway. Too bad I could not shoot a video clip because I have to entertain La La who was very fresh and in the mood to play.

On the highway, we kept driving through tunnels until we finally have to drive through the second longest tunnel in the world that officially opened only 2 months ago. If Richard has to translate the Chinese name of that tunnel into English, the name will be Snow Mountain Tunnel. The length is 12.9 KM and it took about 15-20 minutes drive to pass it.

From Taipei we are heading to the East coast area, the first stop we made was at a hot spring town. That place is called Jiaosi, again that is a loose translation from Chinese to English alphabets. Every building next to the main street is hot spring hotel. Every one of them boast that they have the best hot spring spa.

If most of the big building are hotels, then the smaller buildings are gift store. Then my father in law made a stop at one of the gift store. They sell only local Taiwanese food or maybe Taipei local food, I don't quite know. But now I know where my father in law bought all of those goodies that he gave me recently. I even photograph them last time on my food diary. My father in law and my mother in law both kept telling me to buy any food that I like for myself and they also told me to buy even more for my parents. For more photos on this snacks I am going to post them on my food diary here.

Pic: A quaint little tea town.

Anyway after we bought a lot of snacks, we continue our trip to this little town where there are a lot of tea grows and being processed right there and sell straight to public. This town is called Ping Lin, if there is any mis-translation on all of the names here, blame it on my husband, ok?

We made a short stop here, actually my in laws wants to buy my parents tea but I refused since everytime they met, they keep buying expensive teas for my parents and until now they still have those teas in the box unopened because really too many. I did ask them to ask the seller if Taiwanese made matcha tea like Japanese do, I guess they don't. But before we climb back to the car, Richard asked them to show me what fresh tea leaves look like. I have never seen tea leaves except on magazine or TV. Too bad that when we arrived in this town it's already getting dark so I can stop to take a look at the tea plantation. When the seller show me the tea leaves, I tried to smell it but I don't smell anything, she told me that I need to smell a bunch of them not just a single one leaf only. So she gave me the whole plastic bag of tea leaves to sniff. Then my mother in law bought me deep-fried tea leaves for me!

Pic: Tea store

How does it taste? Well, at first I thought hey I could eat them all, but then after eating more of them, I started feeling the bitter taste that I can taste at my throat. If I eat just one leaf at a time I did not get bothered by the bitter taste but some of the leaves are clumped together by the batter, that's when the bitter taste gets to strong for my taste.

From that town, since we couldn't go back to the tunnel because so many people return back to Taipei from their weekend at that hot spring town so we have 2 choices on which road to take that will take us back to Taipei. The first choice is the highway near the sea and the other is the winding highway on the mountain. Kai Kai made a bad choice of choosing the second one.

Not only I couldn't feed La La her milk since I am afraid she will throw up then she had a hard time to fall asleep too. Then I also got tired of being shook up left and right like a martini shaker!

But what make this trip back to Taipei is creepy, Richard told me that Bei Yi Highway is full of ghost stories. To proof it, when we stop at the look out point, Richard show me all the paper money that scattered all over that place. According to my mother in law, now there are not a lot of paper money all over the highway anymore, years ago, the whole highway is covered by paper money.

For you who doesn't understand about this tradition of paper money. Chinese who believe in Taoism ( different from Buddhism ), believe that they need to burn paper money for the spirits around them so they won't bother them. Or they need to burn paper money for their ancestors so they can bring luck to their life and their business. When I said paper money, it doesn't mean the real money that people use. It is a special kind of paper money that resemblance the ancient paper money that Chinese government produced a long long time ago. You can call it spirit money too.

More about this Chinese culture stuff you can find it on this site.

Beside paper money, you can also see a lot of temple every where on this highway to pray for those spirits that haunting this highway. Then I saw a big pile of that spirit money being burnt as an offering to those spirits. The pile is about 1 meter tall and about 1.5 meter wide. That's a lot of paper money and I saw these piles several times.