Monday, August 15, 2011

It's good to be a 外國人 (foreigner)

This past Saturday, my friends Cherrica and Christine and I decided to go on a daytrip to explore some new part of Yilan County. So we hopped on a commuter train down to Su'ao, about a 30 minute ride south from Yilan City. Su-ao is well known in Taiwan for its cold springs and, in the dead heat of summer, that's exactly where we headed! The water temperature definitely lived up to its name but it was really nice since it was in the mid 90s and very humid out.

After soaking for a few hours, we decided to grab some lunch at a noodle place and head on to our next destination: the Baimi (白米) Clogs Museum. I know what you're probably thinking: clogs in Taiwan? You're kidding, right? Interestingly enough, Taiwan was a Dutch colony during the colonial period. So it was that the village of Baimi turned to traditional clog making as a part of a community redevelopment project after the area's mining industry collapsed. 

The only problem with our plan? We couldn't find the bus stop we needed. We found the correct street and we found the stop going in the opposite direction but, despite our best efforts, we finally had to give up and ask for help at a comic book store. After trying the people working there argued about where it was for a few minutes, the store manager grabbed her cars keys, asked us where we were trying to take the bus to, and drove us to Baimi herself. I think I can safely say that this was our first experience with the famous Taiwanese hospitality everyone's always telling us about!

When we got to the museum, we had another stoke of foreigner's luck. There was a pretty substantial crowd waiting to go in and the girl working at the front desk told us there was a two hour wait for the tour. Then she paused for a minute, looked around, deliberated, and said (in Chinese), "Well, since you're foreigners and you came all the way from America to see our museum, maybe I could bump you up on the list a little bit." She called her boss, told her all about the two 外國人 (foreigners) from America and their friend who "spoke Chinese like a local" (a.k.a. Cherrica) and 10 minutes later we were on the tour. They even found a tour guide for us who could speak pretty good English!

Here are some photo highlights:
Cherrica and I tried on the two person clogs.
Four legged race anyone?
Carving a clog
I think they fit!
Just a few of the awesome clog bottoms they had to choose from
Getting fitted for my new shoes
The finished product! 
We managed to find the bus to get back to the train station from Baimi and took the train back up a few stops so we could end our day with a visit to the Luodong night market. They were having a big parade and festival to celebrate the Ghost Festival (which marks the middle of Ghost Month) and the end of the Luodong Arts and Crafts Festival. 
Ghost children dancing in the parade
The ghost/demon hunters weren't far behind
The monkey king!
Bonus: Night market means exciting food! Crepes filled with taro ice cream,
shaved peanut brittle, and cilantro are a specialty of Luodong.
Sounds weird, tastes amazing!


  1. cool shoes! And the spring looked nice too. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time exploring! Find all the best spots so you can take me to them in December :)

  2. I'm not sure you'll want to visit the cold spring in December... maybe I'll check out the hot springs instead! And I can definitely hook you up if you want some clogs to call your very own :)