Sunday, June 03, 2012

Tamsui Trip with Tadashi

Tadashi & Me at Fort San Domingo
Isn't it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned? Isn't it also great when friends visit from distant places? If one remains not annoyed when he is not understood by people around him, isn't he a sage?
It was truly a great pleasure to be the tour guide for Tadashi, a Japanese classmate at graduate school. We had not met since graduation and he did not even know that I had since come back to Taiwan. Our paths nevertheless crossed again on this cloudy and slightly rainy Sunday -- thanks to his extended business trip to Taiwan.

With a last-minute change of plan, we asked Tadashi to stay inside Jiangzicui Station and we would meet him there. But since all of us had not yet have breakfast, we decided to start today's trip with a traditional Taiwanese breakfast at a near-by restaurant, Memory Dow Juan. This breakfast and brunch restaurant opened in 1979, and now the owner's second generation, three brothers whose previous occupations were rumored to be gigolos, brought in some modern touches. For example, they have a toll-free phone number for customers to order breakfast. They also have their own Facebook pages.

Our destination today was Tamsui, one of the main tourist attractions in northern Taiwan. It is a place where Tamsui River meets Taiwan Strait, and where historical sites meet modern structures. We took a walk at the waterfront markets when there were only a few visitors and visited the famous sunset spot too early. We stopped by at Tamsui Customs Officer's Residence, also known as the Little White House, before having the famous local dish, a-gei, for lunch at Wenhua A-gei Restaurant, reportedly the one that invented the dish. Then we walked a long Zhenli Street and visited the Octagonal Tower at Tamkang High School. We also ran into the graduation of Aletheia University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Taiwan. One of the graduates, apparently very excited about her graduation, performed cheer-leading stunt right in front of us. After that, we arrived at the historic landmark in Tamsui, Fort San Domingo. At its souvenir store, all three of us even chose the same postcard featuring this landmark as the primary image. We sat down to write our postcards: Tadashi wrote to his mother; Evania and I to ourselves.

Original plan was that we would take a ferry across Tamsui River to Bali at this point, but Tadashi was more interested in visiting Taipei Public Library, Beitou Branch, a certified eco-friendly green building and one of the 25 most beautiful public libraries in the world. We made a transfer at Beitou Station to Xinbeitou Branch Line, the train on which was decorated to promote the area's famous hot springs. In addition to the library, we also visited the Beitou Hot Springs Museum before deciding where we should have dinner together.

It turned out to be a tough question -- Evania and I even had to borrow Tadashi's Taiwan travel guidebook for inspiration.We finally decided to go all the way to Nanshijiao Station, the end of Zhonghe Line. This dim sum restaurant is a hidden gem at Huaxin Street, also known as Burma Street because it's home to a large proportion of Taiwan's small Burmese immigrant population.

Upon we finished supper, we had been on the trip for more than 12 hours. It was exhausting yet full of rich memories. Many places we went today were not only Tadashi's first time, but also our first time. Therefore, today's trip was a true adventure for all of us.

P.S. After graduation from graduate school and coming back to Taiwan, I was fortunately enough to meet two of the members in Team Hermes. It started to feel like meeting all of them could be in my bucket list, since I am already half way through.

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