In the morning of November 22, we found a breakfast joint on Guo Ji road, a short distance away, and ordered a 煎餅 （Jian Bing) and some Kung Pao noodles topped with a fried egg. Jian Bing is essentially a Taiwanese breakfast burrito, encompassing scrambled eggs, and/or ham and other items inside a warm, soft, Taiwanese version of a tortilla. Kyle enjoyed the Kung Pao noodles, but Jenn thought they were merely “not bad.” We also shared a soy milk, which Jenn had disliked most of her childhood, but grown to particularly enjoy on this trip. Breakfast set us back a whole $5 or so.
Next, we went to 陽明山 (Yang Ming Shan), which was a bit of a bust because of the rain and fog. We hit up a few recommended scenic points, but were unable to see anything because of the fog. We made a pit stop at the visitor’s center, and shared some coffee and walnut cookies, then took a nice walk along the road up to a waterfall view. The walk was nice and green, and Vale enjoyed stomping around at the overlook, but we actually did not see this alleged waterfall.
Next, we went over the mountain, further north, to 野柳 (Yeh Liu) Geopark on the north east coast of Taiwan. Park rangers we had consulted at Yang Ming Shan advised the weather would be better close to the coast, equally cold, but less rainy. They also informed us the Geopark was very stroller/kid friendly, and that “even old people can handle it.” Vale fell asleep on the way. When she woke up, she was a bit confused and bewildered. We were negligent when leaving the house in the morning, and left our backpack (essentially her diaper bag) in the lobby of my parents’ complex, so she did not have a jacket. Fortunately, as the rangers predicted, the weather was better, and not foggy or rainy, but it was still quite cold. We had to improvise and wrap Jenn’s scarf around her and tie it up in the back as a makeshift vest. She was also wearing sandals, which one elderly tourist lady commented upon, slightly aghast.
After Vale was fully awake, she began to enjoy the place thoroughly. She did not seem to mind the cold and had a great time. She climbed up and down stairs, walked about, played in the grass, and followed a little white dog around yelling “dog dog!”. She attracted the attention of a swarm of tourists at one point, who fawned over her and there were about 5 people at the top of a long flight of stairs taking her picture as she climbed up the steps on her own while Kyle followed closely behind.
The Geopark is basically a rocky area of shoreline with very unique rock formations. This place was bustling with tourists even in in the cold and the wind. At some point, Jenn realized she had gone about 30 minutes, passing by group after group of people, and not heard a single word of Taiwanese Mandarin – or maybe Mandarin at all. There were tourists from Korea, Japan, The Philippines, England, and China, possibly among others.
After the Geo Park, we met my mom in the city to eat at a Michelin star dim sum place at the Megacity mall in Banqiao. I had to twist her arm a bit because she really wanted to go to 鼎泰豐 (Din Tai Fung), but after having experienced the admitted decadence of DTF (DTF means something different to Taiwanese people) in 3 Taiwan locations, 2 Los Angeles locations, and Hong Kong, I was really ready to have something different. Of note, San Diego got its own DTF recently, and the reservations are totally booked through January. This place did not disappoint, though I think my mother still thinks DTF is King. Even as we walked up to the restaurant to meet her, she was trying to convince me to change my mind, and stated she had put her name down for tables at both in case (the two restaurants are pretty much right next to each other in the mall).
We enjoyed a local brew by Sun Mai, barbecue buns, meatballs, shrimp dumplings, shrimp noodles, a soupy mango pudding, among other delicious items. We were lucky because Vale slept through the whole thing and didn’t give us an ounce of trouble while we wolfed down excellent food.