Tuesday 26 February 2013

Days 369-376 Taiwan With Mum & Dad

Street Performers - National Center For Traditional Arts, Luodong, 

The routine started about 5 months ago when Mum, Dad and I would spend close to an hour almost every working mornings together. Dad would drive us to somewhere for breakfast before sending me off to work at my new office building. It was on one of those mornings when I suggested that we should travel together. Just the three of us. For the 1st time.

Traditional Performance Arts- This is a one man act of an old dancing couple

This trip was very different from all my others. For one, my parents can no longer walk or climb very much. They also have dietary restrictions. I had to plan the trip down to its last detail, bus, train, where, what and everything in Mandarin because most cab drivers in Taiwan do not speak English. My dad's Mandarin is spattering at best and Mum can barely read. It was nothing like my 1st trip to Taiwan taken 4 years ago when the only thing I had to worry about was how to get to the Miniature Museum of Taiwan. 

Homestay in Yilan that reminded me of Europe

Taking into considerations all the above factors, I decided we should do a leisurely tour of small towns in the outskirts of Taipei. I picked charming places to stay, hopefully close to the cultural centers or museums.

A tool shed that is 1:48 in scale for human- Yilan homestay

Quite clearly, some of my choices were influenced by my passion for miniatures and everything dollhouse. 

Hotel in Wulai for hot spings- bowls for performance  

I also decided that we should all treat ourselves to a spa-liday and booked a crazy expensive hotel in Wulai for some hot spring baths and spa massages.

Jing Shan Restaurant- Luodong

Food was to be nothing like the weird and wonderful we had during my 1st trip. Dining was to be experienced slowly, luxuriously, like spoilt royalty; so I picked restaurants that had the words culinary art in their names.

There was to be no menus because every course was decided by the master chef. Each dish designed and presented like a work of art with correspondingly exquisite cutlery.

Even toothpicks were to be served in a little embroidered shoe for children. 

And there was poetry on the wall. No, I mean, real poetry. In this restaurant I picked, they were flashing famous Chinese poems with a projector on an empty wall to soothing Chinese world music. Eating, was what you would call, a total experience.

Temple at National Center for Traditional Arts

Of course, with old folks, there are some traditional things you will want to do in Taiwan. Prayers at a temple is a must.

 Shop selling wooden postcards

Then there are the touristy stuff like sending off a wooden postcard to loved ones from an old railway postbox.

Wooden cards with wishes-temple at National Center of Traditional Arts

Bamboo of wishes hanging on trees 

And making wishes, hoping for blessings. There are opportunities aplenty in Taiwan to be seized.

Paper Lanterns sold at shops next to railway lines

My choice was to travel the old way by the slow train to this really quaint small town where we can write our wishes on paper lanterns and fly them off on railway tracks moments before the trains arrive.

Paper lanterns flying into the sky

This is what you do:  First, pick a shop amongst 10s of them.  Then pick a lantern with the right colour/s (red for wealth, blue for health, green for good results and so on) and if you can't pick just one colour, you can opt for 4 of them in 1 lantern.  After you finally find that 1 lantern out of 1000s, you write very fervently in very bad Mandarin (by me) and scribbled English (my dad) all the wishes you can squeeze into the 4 sides of the lantern. 

And then you watch it fly. 

Ours was a sight to behold. It flew high and straight, comforting us with optimism that our future and that of our loved ones will be bright; everyone lives forever, rich and happy; with scholars for children who will never break our hearts. 

Craze in Taiwan or fashion nightmare?

So how did the trip end? Well, I can remember some funny moments.

8th course - Fish with exploded stomachs

Like how after the 7th course at the fine dining restaurant on our 1st night, we thought we were beginning to feel and look like our food.

Or how my dad fell asleep before a performance at the expensive spa-liday resort and snored louder than the music played with a spoon and bowls. Then there are the massages that made us nauseous. 

We also waited for 8 hours for a train back from Shifen where we flew the lanterns and I had to race like a hunting dog to the luggage room about 10 minutes after 8 pm because they were supposed to close by 8.

Of course, there was the food poisoning all of us suffered at different points of the trip. I will not ever forget my bout when I spent 2 days in the hotel without stepping out of bed except to run to the loo. It was so bad that I couldn't watch food even if it was on TV without feeling sick. 

But the good outweighed the bad. 

All that running to the loo helped me lose the calories I gained from way too much fine dining the 1st day.  We also avoided famous street fried food and ate way lesser in the last few days before we got home. 

Although the hot spring air in Wulai did not suit us, I will never forget the beautiful outdoor bath house where I bathed for the 1st time with  women I have never met.

And the wonderful  train rides and how one of our 2 best meals was just a simple bento rice with pork cutlet we bought for S$2 on a train. 

That 8 hour delay in Shifen? It meant I could witness lanterns being flown at night and it was magical. 

Most importantly, we have those shared moments of having travelled together. Suffering, enjoying, cursing, laughing, as a family. Now that is priceless.


The Old Maid said...

What a sweet post, dear Sam! I am sure it will be one of these never-to-forget-memories for you and for your Parents.:)
Your post also reminded me of our -my Parents and me- trip to Italy long time ago.:)
The photos are beautiful and so good you could spoli your Parents with a bit of luxury too.:)
Hugs and kisses
(Will write to you soon, promise!:))

CWPoppets said...

What an interesting trip you had.
I'm sitting here sneezing and coughing and look at that SPA and all these wonderful images. Huaaah... poor me! ;-)
Just don't like to look at this poor little creature who has been opened alive ...yak. Saw that once at a travel show on TV and nearly vomitted.

Sans! said...

Ewalina, having met your parents, I am pretty sure our experiences are very similar. teehehehe.

I learnt a few important lessons on this trip: 8 days may be a bit too long for people with very diverse interests to be travelling together even if they are the people you love most in the world. Too much of a good thing is almost always bad and some of the best experiences in life are really very simple things.

I am happy with your promise to write soon :)

Sans! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sans! said...

Christine, DO NOT go to the pages where I posted the 1st trip to Taipei because the food pics there are even worse.

I sometimes don't understand how in my culture, we present our food in such spectacularly violent ways. Even for us, we thought the fish a trifle unappetizing. But probably more from having ate too much already.

The weather is bad eh? So many of you are suffering from colds. Even here the weather is freaky. That and the meteorite that hit Russia. One can't help wondering if maybe the Mayans may be half right :):):). I am ONLY joking!

Kim said...

I am so thankful for posts like these because I know I will probably never experience any of these things you have written about and you always make me feel like I am sharing the experience in some way too. Your parents are so sweet- I love the last picture :)

Riitta said...

Hi Sans! Thank you for sharing your experiences in Taiwan. This must have been very special trip. It's memories can get only better. Your parents seem so happy in photos.

Cinderella Moments said...

That is an awesome adventure! And some fantastic memories with your parents. You had a wonderful idea.
Hey! I think those bags are cute! :)LOL!

Maria Ireland said...

Sans thank you for sharing your wonderful trip. Your parents look so happy. You all now have some wonderful memories to keep :) Everything looks so colourful.
Hugs Maria

AM Minnaard said...

Hi Sans, a beautiful post which I enjoyed very much. Hug AM

malu2 said...

Que fotos más entrañables!!me ha gustado mucho ver a tus padres,y a pesar de todos los inconvenientes a sido un viaje bonito!
Besos de las Malu´s.

Neomig said...

Dear Sans
Thank you for sharing your experience! I envy you for taking your time and traveling with your folks. I never had the chance. My mum passed away so soon and my dad was never very much in the mood of traveling with the children...
Best Regards

Daydreamer said...

Oh, What a Wonderful opportunity for you and your parents! Such a RARE thing to spend that much time together once you are grown up! I LOVE the pictures of your parents... they look like they are having a Wonderful time together!
Terrible about the food poisoning... I'm really glad you all recovered!!!
I Know you will always remember and Treasure this trip!!!

Sans! said...

Oh Kim, of course you will! Anything is possible although we may not be able to visit every corner of the earth during this lifetime :).

On sharing, what you and your husband have is just as special :).

I am grateful that I could get my mum away from demanding grandchildren. All 4 of them. She barely missed home and looked so rested and happy in all the pictures :).

Sans! said...

Hey Ritta :). It's great to see you here :). This trip was a 1st in many ways. And just when I thought we were still trying to get over the trip, we were already talking about another short trip to Bangkok at this morning's breakfast :).

I am glad to document this special trip here as I do want to remember as much of it as possible.

Sans! said...

Caroline!!!!! Are you kidding me??!!!

Ok, I jest. I am not a Hello Kitty fan but do I have dolls hanging on my bags? Errr...of course! :):). My dad and sis bought me really lovely ones when they travel. I hook them on zips so I can open them quickly.

Even the boys in Taiwan have small stuffed toys hanging from their carriers, maybe not hello kitty but teddy bears? Very common. And yes, handphone covers! Talking into a banana or hamburger is nothing to shout about there. Their handphone covers come in the most hilarious ways.

Sans! said...

Maria Ireland, glad you are here to share my trip. Taiwan is big on colours :). The brighter, the better. Like the yellow house with the orange shed. Maybe for a dollhouse but not in real life for me. :):) Actually, I am not sure about using yellow at all even for a dollhouse. It's a very difficult colour to age..hahaha!

Sans! said...

Thank you AM! :)

Sans! said...

Malú, tal vez un día usted visitará Taiwan? No te olvides de venir por Singapur para darme un abrazo y un beso. A continuación puedes conocer a mis padres de verdad :) :).

Sans! said...

Neomi, we have waited a long long time before we made this trip. My mum is a homebody who does not like to travel much. But Taiwan is a country she loves due to the TV channels she watches ..haha. She knows more of Taiwanese politics than here.

When I was in Taipei, there were many who remarked how unusual it was that people travel like us. Elderly folks with their children. I can see why because we do have different interests. Sometimes, you may not be able to enjoy the trip too much if you don't get to do what you want, having always to consider the wishes of others. Works both ways. My dad travels a lot with his friends and I with mine :).

But in Singapore, 3 generations of family members travelling together is quite common as many people live with their parents even after they are married . I think that may be the case for your country as well?

Sans! said...

Bets, I was terrible as a young adult and I hardly spent time at home with my parents. I wise up as I got older. It also helps that we all live so close by. Since my dad's retirement, we have spent even more time together. I do enjoy our breakfast time together very much even though there were times when conversations centred mainly around mum's displeasure with dad. Old married couples....heh heh :).

Ilona said...

Dear Sans, thank you for sharing this most interesting post!! I love to read about other cultures as you know and now you gave me this wonderful treat! I have read it all with interest and a lot of things are true: to travel with your parents is done with love, but for your own interest it is difficult to combine. I have done this too in the past, so I know what... I think you'll understand what I mean (my English is not that good ;))!?
Your parents look very relaxed and happy indeed on the bottom picture. I can imagine you love them very much. My parents died many years ago and I often think of them with love.
Warm hugs, Ilona
PS Can you send me a picture of the Miss Vanda Joaquim, please? I tried to look it up in wiki, but they only show their flowers, they don't show their stems and roots. You've challenged me, you naughty girl.......:D!

Kikka N said...

Dear Sans!
Thank you for this wonderful post!
First of all the travel has been for you and for your Parents something you`ll never forget!
And for me: it was so Lovely to be able to travel with you all, I love this ;)
(Sorry for you got sick.. :( )

You shared beautiful photos, love and caring, atmospheres, thoughts with us all. Thank you for sharing.
Your parents look very happy in the photos.

Ana Anselmo said...

Sans, what to say.....as always I love your posts, I love to read them, and i use to read at least twice, one in a hurry because of the curiosityand the second one to enjoy all the details!!!!
Thanky for taking your time for sharing your life in this way!!!
love from Lisbon

rosanna said...

Dearie,that was a trip!!
Beautiful places, lovely hotels, tempting food but most of all wonderful memories!!
I remember so well travelling with my parents and I feel tears in my throath this very moment...I am SO happy for you!!
Please,give a hug to your mum and dad for me.
Un bacio per te,Ro

Unknown said...

I always traveled with my parents growing up, and we loved it so much that we continued to do so after I grew up, except for my solo trips to France and Alaska and Japan. The best family stories we have come from the family trips, of course, like the elevator doors closing on my Dad's eyeglasses while he was scolding my brother, or my brother and I driving them crazy because we wouldn't sleep at night, and the horrifying single engine plane rides and the snakes in the foundations of the cabins, and the rain on the metal roofs that sounded like an avalanche of stones that lasted for hours, etc. Thank you for taking us on your trip with you, sharing the food, (like art!), the buildings, the markets, the temples, the lanterns (beautiful), the spas. And the problems - aren't they what we laugh about most, when we're back in our routines and daily lives?

Margriet said...

That must have been a precious journey...travelling together with your parents!
Love the lanterns you send up in the sky!!!

BiWuBär said...

What a wonderful time you must have had - despite of all the difficulties, the planning etc. I have no doubt the good outweighed the bad. And you can still count on your memory to cling to good and forget about the not so good. *teehee* I really had to smile about your descriptions, especially the intermezzo with the loo... When my Mom was still able to walk we've been to Vienna, my parents and me. And guess who missed a whole Sunday staying in bed and at the loo... maybe too much sunshine the day before when visiting the garden and zoo of Castle Schönbrunn I suppose, you know I'm not that used to sunshine... (LOL).


Sans! said...

Ilona, would you believe someone threw away a pot of Vanda Miss Joaquim just outside our house and of course, I lugged it, pot and all back. The plant has flowered a few times and I think it has flowered again. I will try and get a picture this evening and send it to you ! A Vanda Miss Joaquim will be a no brainer for you after I saw what you did with the white orchids. Just get the purple right, I guess?

Warning: my real life plants like my miniature ones are messy. You will know what I mean when I send you the pic. LOL

Sans! said...

Birgit, if you ever travel here to sunny Singapore, there will be a shovel waiting just so you won't be homesick for snow:). You can help me shovel dead leaves..muahahaha.

During the trip, we talk about that a lot; the fact that one day we all face the prospect of growing old, not being able to walk any more and the travelling will stop. You know Birgit, we all know these things are inevitable.

Ascension said...

Todo iba bien, un precioso viaje en el que el lujo y la comodidad eran primordiales.....pero entonces tu papa se quedo dormido jejejeje y ademas tuvisteis que correr "como perros de caza" jejeje para no perder el tren..........la anecdota de tu problema con la comida y que "no la podias ver ni en television jejejeej, a sido una de las entradas mas divertidas y en las que mas me has hecho reir.
Tus papas, se ven muy jovenes y seguro que lo pasasteis genial.
Porque estoy convencida de que son tan simpaticos y divertidos como tu.
Me alegro de que hayais pasado esos fantasticos dias juntos y que haya servido para hacerme reir a mi con tus aneecdotas....que hace mucho que no me reia a carcajadas.
Preciosas fotografias!!!
besitos ascension

Norma Soulet (AZArtist) said...

Hi Sans,
Hope you are doing well.
I am trying to catch up here and thanks for allowing me to imagine going on that trip with you and your parents. :)
I love all the photos and all those quaint shops full of goodies. Love those wooden postcards too. Everything amazing!

Eva said...

I am reading all the missedpost. Love all the pictures of this travels and love to see your parents :)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin