Last weekend I finally visited the lake that my Chinese teacher tells me to visit every week. It was a mellow morning. Oatmeal was needed. I was trying so desperately for it to be fall.
When I left the house, however, it was nothing short of hot! Excited to be going up the road, towards the mountains, instead of down it, towards the city, I began taking pictures right away.
I passed green gardens. One of the most interesting things about living here is that the food you see in the markets is often grown right outside your house! People in the States have gardens, but there is more of a cross-town feel to it here. It is not unusual to see old women riding their rickety bicycles across town, laden down with bundles of greens tied with strips of bamboo, the greens flopping back and forth with each steady pedal.
Who knew you could live some place for three months and never think to explore your neighborhood! I was excited to see what was up ahead, because I had never walked this way before.
Following the river that runs outside out house, I soon crossed a little bridge which led me past more gardens and some lovely banana trees!
Although I am not a fan of bananas, I was smiling from ear to ear just to see them growing like this. Maybe it’s a sheltered American thing, but the sight of fresh fruits and vegetables growing never grows old for me. I am constantly enthused by dragon fruit trees, orange trees, and rice paddies. If only I could somehow volunteer on a farm!
There is such a contrast between the brick by brick buildings and the green and growing fields next to them. It shows you that life can exist anywhere.
Turning a corner, I made my way out onto the main road again, which would (hopefully!) take me all the way to the lake.
It is so strange to me here, the instant change from city to country, almost as if they blur at the edges.
Everything is jumbled together into mishmashes of color and black and white, crisp edges and soft corners, elaborate temples and stark office buildings.
So I headed towards the mountains, towards the lake.
I really lost track of time. It was just me and my camera and the wide open Yilan countryside. I relished being alone in the air, nothing to do, just walk all afternoon if I chose.
It really is quaintly rustic around here.
There was just too much to photograph, I had to stop every minute to zoom in on a crack in the sidewalk or an odd bit of rubbish at the side of the road.
Sometimes, I needed two versions of the same photo, just because each told a new story.
The above pictured house was right next to this house:
Talk about contrast.
I passed some of the typical soda offering sculptures.
It was as if everything I passed was photo worthy simply for being.
I passed a sign for an organic herb farm, quite closely. I will be visiting, you bet.
Soon, I was in a new town.
Soon, the road forked and I took the righthand side, as I was pretty sure I had remembered led to the lake.
It got a bit more rural from here, and I was bit nervous. Nothing looked like a lake, and I was all alone.
Still, I pressed on. No, this wasn’t the epic journey I am making it out to be, I was just taking a walk in the country** (see end of post)
I looked up and lo and behold.
Besides the scenery, one of the best things about walking around here is just observing the simple aspects of traditional life.
Still on the right track.
The next stretch of road was somewhat deserted. I was really hoping something looked like a lake soon, but I wasn’t willing to consider that I may have taken a wrong turn. Not that it would have been unexpected, the signs being in Chinese and all.
Strange foreboding fences and graveyards and silence.
Yet another corner and no lake.
A mini for you, Dad. I found it.
I used to think that offerings were just for ghost month, but that is long gone, and people are still making offerings on their front stoops. Usually a table complete with foods, and a bowl of rice with incense stuck in the middle to invite the spirits. I’ve mentioned this, but that is why you’re not supposed to stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice!
Soon, I was there!!
To give you an idea where I walked from, find Yilan City, and go to the left a bit.
It was a hot day, so I was glad to see some shade.
Since I had forgone a trip to the market this morning in favor of this walk, I was happy to see a few fresh vegetable and fruit stalls under the shade of some trees.
I bought two sweet potatoes at the ridiculously high price of NT40! I’ve gotten four sweet potatoes at the market in Yilan for NT20.
I began to walk around the lake.
I didn’t get very far around before a girl on a bicycle stopped me. ‘Are you alone?’ she asked. I replied that yes, I was, and we began to talk. Observing that I was hot and hearing that I had walked here (yet another person in awe and shock at my proclivity for walking) she ran home to grab me a water bottle. I seemed unable to shake her and was enjoying our conversation. Soon, we were walking back home and, passing her house, I was offered a ride home by her neighbor. We all piled into the car and set off back down the road from whence I had come.
We passed a wedding ceremony!
I wasn’t able to get a photo of the girl, but the neighbor wanted one with me, so I posed for a few.
PS: Here’s where you are led if you read the ** correctly.
Ps: Things to laugh at.
If you’re wondering which of these things I’ve ever done, the answer is: number 7, number 9, number 11. But I did find it funny because I’ve seen people do all of them.