We were excited to welcome our first guests from the US- Bill and his sister Pia came to visit us for 3 days in January 2006. On the day they arrived (1/3/06), we went to the Shilin nightmarket and started them off with the culinary surprises the island has to offer. We tried things like gelatinous meat balls, fried chicken,......and just made our way through the masses.
The next day (1/4/06), we went to the National Palace Museum to look at great historical artifacts that are collected there from various periods throughout the history of China. We also went up to take a look from the top of the 101 building.
On 1/5/06, we made the trek to the Chiang Kai Shek (AKA Johnny-5) Memorial Hall and had fun poking around the grounds for a while. We tried to take some pictures that didn't exactly come out the way that we would have hoped, but are still cool nonetheless. Here you can see a picture of Bill, Pia and Melanie (looking out from the entrance of the memorial) and Bill and Pia (looking at the entrance). Later on that evening, we decided to walk around the neighborhood a bit and stumbled across some good (albeit sketchy) eats.
On the final day, we went out to the Longshan Temple, which is one of the oldest and largest in Taiwan. This is a really interesting temple, and it is located in a very interesting neighborhood. There is a night-market on the surrounding streets, and the wares that they peddle cater distinctly less to Westerners than the ones that we typically visit. We could tell you more, but that would just ruin the surprise. Let's just say that we suggest making sure that you're up to date on all of your innoculations before becoming too adventurous here.
One the final night, we headed up to Danshui, which is a pretty coastal town on the northern tip of the island. This part of the trip did not go as smoothly as the rest. Basically, it was cold, windy, and rainy, and we got off the bus at the wrong stop - missing the Fisherman's Wharf area by several stops. We slogged our way through a residential area before finding a coastal walkway, and only eventually found the main boardwalk after most things had shut down. This might have been a relatively disastrous last trip had it not been for a very fortuitous discovery of a store with a rather unusual name (see Turd Baby posting), which saved the day. Yay, Turd Baby!!!
Overall, it was a very fun trip. Bill and Pia were our first international visitors that stayed with us for any amount of time, and as such, they had to go through our learning curve on where to take guests and how to get there. Hopefully they still had a good time despite the hiccups. For those of you that are able to come out and visit us, if you find that our tour guide skills are even half-way decent, then you should thank Bill and Pia for blazing the trail.