holidays in taiwan

Week one of our winter break has come and gone quickly ... as per usual with holidays they fly by far too fast. For a change of pace we decided to take it easy and relax at home for most of our break instead of jumping on a plane to somewhere hot. Feeling the pressure of paying off debt we decided to try and save up. So, we have been sleeping in, talking walks, planning for work in the next semester, and just spending our days together.

But this week has not been totally stress free. We also thought that starting a healthy eating routine would be a great idea while we were on holiday to avoid bumming around the apartment and stuffing our faces the entire time. This change has lead to some anxiety in the store when planning meals. But after about 10 days of no dairy, processed carbs or unnatural added preservatives, healthy choices are becoming much easier to make. We are feeling better about our selves ... even though we are yet to see dramatic weight changes. This plan to live better was not a diet or hectic weight lost scheme ... but a reset so that we can make better choices and I am very proud of us for it. Now I would just like to see that number on the scale drop a little for added motivation!

After laying around for the first couple of days a change of scenery was needed. To get our butts out of bed we jumped on the scooter and drove to natural scenic areas around Hsinchu (the city where we live in Taiwan). We grabbed our cameras and set out to see more of Taiwan while at the same time saving money.

First, we headed to the Reservoir located in the mountains just outside of Hsinchu. After a LONG drive ... we may have been slightly lost ... JP's internal GPS finally got us there. We then walked the paths surrounding the water and forest while trying to capture come great shots. We even set up in a bush of bamboo waiting for some birds to land in the water ahead of us ... but apparently my ill camouflage techniques (holding up sticks) and bird calls (squwaking randomly) were not up to snuff ... no birds. Finally, after our day out we drove home with temperamental breaks ... a little scary when you are driving down a mountain!!

The next day we set out for Nanliou, a small harbor town just off the coast by Hsinchu. Here we drove the 17km coast line (usually people bike, but it was cold and windy so we drove and parked at specific places we wanted to walk around). The 17km "scenic" coastline is not what I would describe as a scenic tour. For a great deal of the path you are NO where close to the ocean. The path cuts inland across the estuary and runs next to the highways. Also the Taiwanese decided to build waste treatments plants and recycling facilities right along this path and on the shore. I am not sure why they would choose to ruin a beach with a giant waste plant a the same time they try and promote tourism. Strange. Although the scenic path was less than exciting visiting the ocean is never a bad idea and a little walk around the harbor town provided us with some interesting photo opportunities and an all around fun afternoon.

For the weekend JP and I teamed up with our friends Chris and Lucie on a road trip south. We wanted to get out of town and go camping ... so off to Kenting.We have been to Kenting a couple of times, it is at the very southern tip of Taiwan and the weather is typically warmer than Hsinchu. We were hoping for beach weather and to sneak in a little sun... but it was cloudy with a little smite. Despite the rain it was warmer than Hsinchu and we had a great time! Friday night after Chris finished work we packed up his car with all our gear and their two dogs for the 5 hour drive south. We set up camp as soon as we got there and got to bed ... the long drive really knocks us all out.

The next day after a nice lie in we got up and made breaky ... it was awesome and healthy as Chris is participating in the same reset that we are! Fresh strawberries, scrambled eggs with green onion, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. For the day we headed to the southern most point of Taiwan. There we took the dogs for a nice walk through some mad coral that is now along the shore and covered in vines and trees to a rocky beach with giant crashing waves. We chilled on the shore for a while and JP took some epic pics.

Next, we found a quiet little beach bar to lounge around on and "cheat" the healthy plan with a couple beers. It was too hard to resist "buy 5 and get one free" between a couple of buddies while sitting on a beach.

In Kenting there is not much else to do when the weather is rainy and overcast since it is basically a beach town ... so after a couple rounds we headed back to our campsite to chill and play some cards. For dinner we had an awesome braai (Afrikanns for bbq) of steak, grilled peppers, king oyster mushrooms, sweet potatoes, onions, pumpkin and a fresh salad topped with JP's homemade vinegrette dressing. YUM! Following our feast we had some more 'treats' ... vodka water lemon and scotch and water before we headed to the night market. At night the main strip of Kenting turns into a night market with games and vendors filling the streets as bars pump tunes. We were not in the mood to party so we strolled the streets playing games and window shopping. Luckily for us the smells of Taiwanese street food is not tempting and it is was easy to avoid the squid on a stick or green tea icecream they were selling. With our stellar prizes in hand (plush dice, cards and a sticky dart gun) we headed back to camp. Sunday morning we rolled out of bed after another sleep in and made some mean scrambled eggs using leftovers we had cut up from the night before. Along with some fresh pineapple and cold brew jasmine tea it was a great start to the day. It is crazy how good you can feel minus a hangover! After breaky we packed up camp and headed for Taiwan's National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. I LOVED this aquarium!!

Overall, it was beautifully designed and had tons of really well thought out exhibits. I could have stayed there for hours! Finally, after hundreds of photos and continually asking JP, "What kind of fish is that?" we loaded into the car for the long drive. The time passed quickly with random conversations, napping, and pit stops for healthy snacks of unsalted almonds, water and dried mango. Once home there was a quick stop to unload the puppies who slept the entire ride after their fun filled weekend of running free and we snuck away for at least one dinner out and hit up our favorite Korean BBQ joint before calling it a weekend.

Boris - falling asleep sitting up after his big day out

Now tucked in bed we are editing photos and planning our next trip around Taiwan. We may not be anywhere warmer and I definitely do not have a tan but we do NOT have to worry about work on Monday ... I love holidays!


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