We decide to give our hosts a break today and M and I jump on the subway and head down to the coastal town of Danshui—situated on the northern tip of the island where the Danshui River runs into the ocean, it's the Taiwan equivalent of Coney Island. Kind of. It doesn't have an amusement park, so without that it's really just a boardwalk with a lot of weird food on sticks. I vow to at least try the Taiwanese version of the corn dog, but M warns me off saying it's really gross.
We try to find the Red Castle, a place our guidebook says is good for lunch, but can't seem to figure out where we're at on the map. So, we end up at another place right on the river. It's our first time ordering food without our hosts and we discover how hard it is to communicate with someone who has no language in common. And, we're not good at the pantomime. At one point, I absurdly start speaking some of the little Spanish I know. I'm not really sure why, my brain just defaulted to it when I couldn't think of anything else to do. At some point we get water and a coke and finally end up with some Kung Po chicken.
After lunch we take a ferry across the river and visit the town of Bali, which sprang up due to the oyster industry here apparently. We take a walk along the river and decide we like this side better than the other just because it's a little more picturesque and much more calm. And there's a weird statue of a monkey doing Tai Chi. You can't beat that with a stick.
Unlike in big American cities, the Taiwanese don't walk around with headphones stuck in their heads. I'm not sure why this is. It certainly can't be because they don't have access to the technology. I do better with the Chinese phrases I know today, but I still can't get used to how exposed you are in their public restrooms. The doors are basically just a wooden shutter, which makes me shudder. I hope I never, ever have to poop in public here. They use common sink areas to wash your hands, though, which are out of the bathroom proper and open to the main dining areas of the restaurants. I think this is ingenious. It would insure that people wash their hands when they're done I think.
Oh, and Chinese babies are just about the cutest things on the planet.