there’s nothing more cherished than a newborn baby. last december, we celebrated hiro and rie’s beautiful wedding and now we welcome their first son, born 11/01 at just over 5lbs, baby dean!!!
so i personally believe dean is a math genius. i have photographic evidence below that, at just a slobbery 2.5 weeks old, he can count to 5…..!!!!!!!!!!!!
such a stud. my heart just melted, especially when he threw me a wink at #4. <3
another business trip to china lead to another family visit in taiwan! lucky me!! this time, we took a spontaneous 375 mile, 3 day road-trip from taipei down to central and southern taiwan. i’ve always known how beautiful this mountainous island was but never really experienced it firsthand until now. previously named formosa by the portuguese sailors during the 16th century (and with stunning good reason as i’ll prove to you soon…), taiwan is encapsulated by luscious greens, crisp air, and genuinely kind people.
first stop, of course..taipei. we went to visit my mom’s zen-like office in xindian
ios devices pollute our coffee table…a vice i can’t live without2 per person seems pretty average these days, yes?
i have 5 very important men in my life. my bro, tim, dozer, maxi, and this one right here tops the list.
jingang jing 金剛經, a classic buddhist text, is carved into wood planks.each chinese character penetrates through so when the sun shines at just the right angle, the reflection is gloriously projected onto the interior of this modern temple, called 農禪寺水月道場, located in beitou.
the infamous sulfur hot springs in beitou. believed to offer many health benefits such as treating eczema and arthritis but i just go for the fart-like smellmMmMm..
hsu family prixe fixe at the grand view resort in beitou
though her memory is deteriorating, grandma always melts my heart. especially with that outfit, smile and those peace signs ^.^
we don’t conclude dinner until AFTER the karaoke. pops is singing some sappy chinese love song. not sure if auntie’s sad expression is caused by the song or by dad’s pitch.
now we start the road trip!!! first, i must boast about how i drove licenseless through some unruly traffic. for the most part, it was fine in the countryside but..that city traffic. no thanks. oodles of mopeds, with upwards of 2 adults + 1 kid + a dog piled on, surrounding us, going every which direction…probably the scariest shit of my life but we’re alive!!!!
day 1: taipei to tainan. our first stop was a historical site in anping where the dutch built a fortress during their 38-yr rule. the fortess itself, oddly called fort zeelandia 安平古堡, was less than inspiring but we did stop by some quaint little spots. built by the dutch east india company in the early 1600s, this is one of the few original walls still standing. random thought…did they have anything to do with pirates? cause i sure hope so…
blown away by the beauty of this tree… it stands atop the fort.
here, a local tainan joint is filled with interesting decor
if there’s noodle soup on the menu, it’s what she’s ordering! temples were erected in the most random corners of town.
豆花, oh gosh soooo delicate..sooo dericious. like sweet pillows that melt on your tongue. it’s a chinese tofu pudding dessert with peanuts and ginger syrup.
a random wish tree
when the japanese occupied taiwan in the early 1900s, salt was heavily traded; but after WWII, the industry became deserted. as the oldest city in taiwan and the former capital, some of tainan’s stores still show remnants of that past by selling different types of salts. hope y’all are liking my mini history lessons hehe
this structure was the japan salt company’s warehouse. since the abandonment, ginormous banyan trees have engulfed the building, wrapping its roots throughout the building’s framework. fittingly enough, it’s now called the anping tree house 安平樹屋. such an amazing site..just goes to show how powerful trees are, even at such a slow growing pace.
the banyan tree is crazyyyyyyy. so basically its roots grow on a host tree (or host structure), shown left, and once the aerial roots hit the floor, it grows into thick trunks (shown right).
the parentals pose like royalty at a famous calligrapher’s house nearby
uoeno..mother used to be an award-winning calligrapher. here, she writes names with water on concrete.
day 1 is over..we eat baos on the street and call it a day!
day 2 morning: taijiang national park in tainan
so..trippy… O.o we took a boat ride through the mangroves of sihcao wetlands 四草生態綠色隧道.
cherishing this rare mother daughter moment
day 2 afternoon: we drive about 100 miles north to nantou county where pops and i go on a beautiful hike through bamboo forest while mom relaxes in the car, enjoying tea eggs and stinky tofu.
i think this uniquely-shaped leaf is trying to tell us where to go!
we were NOT prepared for how many freakin steps there were… never been that sore in my life.
made it to our destination, the sky ladder 天梯. total of 208 steps, spanning 446 feet, 65 foot elevation difference between the start and middle, suspended (my guestimate) roughly 700-800 feet high.
beautiful bamboo everywhere
exhausted but now i have buns of steel. pops was calculating our time, making sure we hiked faster than the average man.
after the hike, we took the scenic route to xitou forest and saw these peaceful tea farms
whenever i ask her to pose, she gives me something like this
about 3000 feet above sea level, the humid weather is best for growing tea
tea farms up in the clouds make me happy
we definitely took the road less traveled…though worth it, we went through some gnarly mud slides, tons of switchbacks and extremely narrow dirt roads. took us almost 2 hours to go 20 miles!
finally, some civilization!!!!!!!! these signs though….
day 2 evening: we reach our final destination in xitou 溪頭. our cabin-like b&b was right above this little restaurant.
at night, we visited the xitou monster village 溪頭怪物村, an area recently built to resemble a monster-themed japanese town. we were invited into this tiny shop to drink tea with the owners.
milk candy in…a backpack?
before sleeping, she places a bowl of water infused with cypress essential oils nearby. what a hipster!
day 3: xitou forest. pre WW2, this area was used for research and education by tokyo university.
mushrooms the size of my pinky toe!
oh gosh..this light… drippin like GOLDDDD
there was an elevated pathway at one point. perfect for a family “from where i stand” shot
this, to me, is somewhere i’d find totoro and his sootballs
after xitou we headed home but before entering the city, we stopped by an old pottery town to fill our stomachs with street food. perfect way to end our 3 day road trip. can’t wait for the next one on taiwan’s east-side..to the infamous taroko gorge!