Seven days already? Six to go… Only one more night at the surf place, then off to the unknown. Current plan is to travel to Hualien on the East Coast via rail. Consistently described as “beautiful” and “must-see.” In Taipei, the bird fair organizers made sure all the delegates were fed, sheltered and kept busy; in Nan Kan, I’ve been in the care of Sammy and Shao Ling. This last chapter of the trip will challenge my ability to travel solo in a foreign land.
But let’s not jump ahead! After all, I have another night and two days left here! And, oh, how heavenly is it? Well, today started with Sammy delivering me coffee while I kicked back in bed chatting online. How spoiled is that? Followed by a two-hour surf session, back at Jialeshui. I surfed the lefts today, off a sweet little cobblestone point break. Wave size ranged from shoulder-high to head-high, wind varied from barely there to crazy gusting, whipping around from onshore to offshore to sideshore — that factor remains a challenge, especially with this epoxy board I’m riding.
Yesterday I surfed competently, which is all I ever ask for. Today I blew a couple takeoffs and had to redeem myself. More crowded today. Funny how hardly anyone in the line-up says hello. Out of over a dozen people, only two girls and one guy acknowledged me in any way. I didn’t mind, exactly, but considering how ready I was to be friendly, I couldn’t help but be a little let down. When I trudged back up to the van, fans suddenly overwhelmed me in the form of a four-person mainland China tourist cluster. Not only were they excited to talk to me, but the gentleman of the group insisted on taking my picture. With my camera.
Then lunch at a buffet-style restaurant. I went for the tofu and noodles. Quite good. And cheap! Only about one dollar, U.S.-style. After lunch, we visited the Kenting Youth Center (see previous post), a thoroughly charming spot. So charming that I had another twinge of wishing someone was there to share it with me.
We returned to the shop, where I sprawled back out in bed with a book for an hour. After a while, concerned that I wasn’t maximizing my proximity to the beach, I crossed the street to the sand, where I continued to read until the sun had sunk into the clouds over the mountain range.
Sammy suggested I try a place down the street for dinner, so I changed into a cute Amy-dress, brushed my hair and set off for Bossa Nova. Claire, the owner, seated me at an outdoor table. The breeze blew cool against the lingering heat. Latin-flavored music pumped from the speaker across from me. Decor consisted of rustic tables, a thatched roof separating the back of the restaurant from the front, African-style paintings on the walls.
Claire, at her insistence, whipped me up a Western-style salad full of roasted peppers and Parmesan cheese. First time I’ve used a fork in a week. Delicious. I ordered a whiskey sour, which, like the breeze, refreshed. Main dish arrived in the form of fried tofu with Thai sauce. Spicy, chewy, fantastic. Inspired, I ordered dessert, a chocolate-caramel crunch cake. First chocolate I’ve had in a week. I almost licked the plate to get every last crumb. When I asked to pay, Claire said, “You can stay! Relax! Sit for a while.” So, I ordered another whiskey sour, kept reading my book (The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolano), scrawled some notes of my own, reveled in the inexplicable luxury of sitting in a cafe in Taiwan, reading and writing, sipping on whiskey and, after that, black tea, and wondered how I landed in such a perfect juncture of time and place.
I’ve been reading these memos from another place with pleasure that someone who deserves so much got to have such a wonderful time. But this post took me over the line into envy–reading a book for hours and eating chocolate! I need that!
It’s wonderful to read your experiences, Jen. And I totally agree with everything Kim just wrote!