On Saturday, a few of my fellow teachers and I headed out to Ershui because we heard it was awesome and that you can see wild monkeys there.
All of it.
We took the train there, and the ride lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes. At one point, an old lady got on with two huge baskets attached to a pole that she carried. She smelled strongly of fish. After she sat down next to me, I could see why. In one of here baskets were 2 or 3 live eels! They were really gross looking. She also kept falling asleep... on my shoulder. That wasn't awkward at all.
When we arrived in Ershui, we took the opportunity to use some Western-style toilets at the train station there, and then we headed over to the bike rental agency that was located in the same square as the station. There, we rented 4 bikes, and then we headed on our way towards Monkey Mountain (I don't know what it's actually called, but I liked the alliteration).
Kendra and Kaylee rented a tandem bike. My memory of attempting to ride a tandem bike at girls' camp one year is not good, so I opted for your regular, one-seater bicycle.
After one or two wrong turns and being pointed in the right direction by a man on a scooter with limited English, we managed to find the right road to the monkey trail. (There were also a bunch of old men outside a store on a street corner that, when they saw us, got kind of excited and yelled "Monkeys! Yeah, yeah!" and pointed us up the road.)
Our group, minus Jenny who was taking the photo. Jessica, me, Kendra, and Kaylee
We took the path on the other side of this bridge on the way back down the mountain, just for a change in scenery. Bad idea. Why? The stench! OH MY GOSH IT WAS HORRIBLE! There was also a stray dog that was acting really nervous about us. We think maybe she had her puppies nearby. Stray dogs are, sadly, extremely common here. It's hard to go more than 5 seconds without seeing one when you're outside.
Speaking of stray dogs... this one was taking a nice nap in the shade.
Everything was so green in Ershui! And by everything, I mean the water, too.
I'm curious as to what the "correct ways to play" are.
First monkey sighting! They were doing flips, jumping to and from trees, screeching at each other... it was pretty amazing.
There were also these huge, polished rocks everywhere. I am not sure why, but it was fun to take pictures on this one. Don't even worry. I already had at least 10 mosquito bites at this point, and that's with bug repellent.
Loved the colors of these plants.
That is a butterfly, I promise. It landed just as I was snapping the picture.
Speaking of huge bugs, check out this spider. These nasties were everywhere.
Also, that black smudge on that giant leaf? Another spider. I told you! Everywhere!
A couple was there with their dog (not a stray!). The dog really liked the monkeys.
And then, as I was about to take the picture below, this little fella jumped into my frame. I am pretty sure he/she/it did it on purpose. Check out that stoic face.
How many monkeys can you see in this picture?
Tianna, I took this for you. Wandering Jew seems to be native to Taiwan and was sure doing the wandering thing really well.
"Formosan macaques (Formosan rock-monkeys), belong to a specific wild and endangered mammals, come and go unexpectedly alongside this trail. Their appearance would be your most fortunate moement. Then if you wouldn't mind stop for a while to watch what they are doing, you will certainly find unexpected rewards and surprises." The "Note" is not as interesting, so I'm not transcribing it here.
Finally, the top of the mountain! My first look into the valley below
I was the last one to make it up all those stairs and I was definitely huffing and puffing the whole way. There were some Taiwanese people at the top watching me climb and one of them started cheering me along, "Jaiyo! You can do it! Jaiyo!" He asked us if we had come all the way from the bottom (yes) and how long it took us (about an hour). They all seemed to be very impressed, but I'm not sure why because we weren't the only ones coming from the bottom of the mountain... Maybe it's because we're Americans and Americans are lazy.
Jenny and I were thinking that this must make some pretty impressive waterfalls when it rains.
The temple at the top
There was a road back behind the temple and tons and tons of shops selling mostly tea. We explored for a little bit, and a few of us purchased some more water bottles, having completely finished off the ones that we'd brought with us.
We found this awesome statue. Jessica, Jenny, Kaylee, and Kendra
After we got back to our bicycles at the bottom of the mountain, we decided to ride around for a bit and explore Ershui some more. There is this wonderful bike path that we took for quite some distance (about 4 meters round trip). There were a lot of rice patties near the trail and, therefore, a lot of bugs (I don't want to go into it, but it was really gross and we had bugs in our eyes), but it was also very beautiful.
Cranes in the rice patty! I tried zooming in more, but they kept putting their heads down. I'm guessing they were eating.
And, finally, "Watch our the incoming vehicles"
Ershui was such a cute little town. It was nice to get away from the city for a bit. We were all glad to get home, though, where we could take showers and get some rest. I don't think I have ever sweat so much as I did on Saturday! Very gross. But well worth it. Despite all the mosquito bites that I have that make it hard for me to even sleep.
Yesterday I gave a talk in church on Baptism and Covenants. Mom, Dad, I'm going to mail it to you (probably) instead of putting it up here on my blog. Jenny Phillips was in our branch and sang a musical number for us during Sacrament Meeting, too. She is doing a tour around Taiwan and a fireside last night in Taichung. After church, Sister Chang asked me to her home for some lunch and offered to let me take a nap in her spare room before taking me to the fireside. She also invited Kaylee along. Of course I accepted! (It was something of an answered prayer, because I knew I would be so tired Sunday and then still be tired today. Because the fireside was at the Stake Center, it would have been inconvenient for us to go to church and come home just to have to leave again, so we teachers all planned to stay in Taichung for the whole day.) Dinner was nice and we had a delicious chocolate cake roll for dessert. Also, I learned that nice beds do in fact exist in Taiwan, as Sister Chang's spare bed was almost as comfortable as the bed I have at home. I think that was the best nap I've taken since getting here!
The fireside was very good and very crowded. There were not enough seats for everyone! Luckily we got there when there were still a couple rows of seats at the back of the room, but there were several dozen people standing around us for the whole thing, too. Kaylee and I left a little early because Sister Chang was worried about getting her children to bed and wanted to take us to the train station, which was extremely kind of her. We ended up getting home an hour before the other girls, despite the fact that the fireside was almost over when we left.
At the train station, Kaylee and I met three high school girls that wanted to talk to us. They have apparently seen us before at the train station in Feng Yuan, and on looking back, they did look a little familiar, so I believe them. When we arrived in Feng Yuan, they wanted to take a picture with us. So, somewhere out there, probably on two Taiwanese Facebook profiles, there is a picture of me that I'll never see. Awesome. Talk about feeling like a celebrity.
Well, another week of teaching begins. In another two weeks, I won't have AK on Tuesdays as Summer schedule will have finally ended. Now, if only the heat of summer would end, too...