China 2011: Day 3 Night
Checked out early in the morning, and the tour started the way to 日月潭 (Sun Moon Lake?), stopping at several sites on the way.
I have to admit I spent almost the entire driving time listening to my Zen player over those wonderful noiseless earbuds. It's not cuz I know what the tour guide is saying. It's just... let's just say our current tour guide really needs English lessons. And dictation lessons. It's not that he's not understandable, but it's apparent he's not quick with the vocabulary and takes forever to choke out a word. The way he talks just makes me cringe, constantly. And no, his Chinese is not any better, for the exact same reasons, even though I think his a native speaker (I certainly *hope* he's a native speaker). So for the sake of my sanity, I tuned him out. Besides, it's not like I couldn't wiki the stuff he was talking about if I really needed to know anyway. The spots we visited were... eh, underwhelming, I guess. (Let us all cut Taiwan some slack for not having the sheer history and size of the mainland and thus just aren't able to compete either in natural nor man-made wonders.)
The first non-rest stop we made was a small market-town for lunch. I feel sorry for many of the non-Asians on our tour, cuz the only recognizable western chow there was a 7-Eleven store. As an aside, I noticed that Taiwan doesn't have the same brand permeations that the mainland does. Sure, I see McDonalds and KFC around, but not one on every block, and no more than I see places like Burger King, Starbucks, or Pizzahut. On the other hand, the most common western brand that I do see every few blocks is 7-Eleven. Huh. Also, I noticed that unlike the mainland counterparts, the western brands don't translate their store/brand names. McDonald's is just “McDonalds”, not “麦当劳”, etc. Anyway, back to the tour... I didn't see anything really palatable, and wasn't really that hungry, so I ate two sticks of barbequed wild pig meat, and an ice cream cone (it was muggy hot and we were heading into the tropic zone...damn Tropic of Cancer).
Second main stop was at this temple to Xuan Zhang (Tripitaka). We had to hike up to the pagoda. In the muggy heat. Ugh. I refused to climb the steps of the pagoda after that. I'm sure there's nice scenery from the topic, but I've never been nature-girl.
Third stop was this Peacock Park. Why called that? Cuz they keep peacocks there, apparently. Unfortunately, none of them spread their tails for my camera, what with it not being mating season. There were also pens with some other colorful birds, peasants and others that I have no ideat what of. Did take some pics for those bird watchers out there...
Fourth and last stop was another temple, this one to Confucious and Guan Yu. Odd couple. Took a few pics, but honestly, it's nothing that I haven't seen before, and IMO doesn't even compare to the temple to Confucius in Pinyao, which is like out in the boonies.
Finally, we ended up at our hotel. Fleur de Chine is the name (huh, familiar theme?), a five star place, very much in the Japanese style what with the robes that are provided, the wooden stool and bucket thing in the shower, and a frickin' onsen in each room. Apparently, the place taps the lake and an underground hot spring for the onsen. Neat. Also, apparently internet is free here. Awesome. Need to catch up on all my internet needs...