The Beautiful Island

The Portugese called this place "Ilha Formosa", which means "Beautiful Island".  It's hard to see what that really means when you live in Taipei, since most of what I see is buildings, streets, and car exhaust (oh yeah, and Taiwanese people).   Luckily, yesterday I had another opportunity to leave Taipei.  I have a student who's about 50 years old, and he and his wife invited me on a drive around the countryside.  My friend Vivian, who is in town doing a med school rotation at National Taiwan University Hospital, came with us.

First, we drove northeast from Taipei, out to Keelung, which is famous for its local seafood specialties.  On the way, we drove along the coast.  An interesting thing about Taiwan is that most of it is mountainous, and in certain parts the mountains come right down to the ocean.  So while we're driving, we have the Pacific Ocean on the left, and these gorgeous, forest-covered mountains to the right.  Joe (my student) and Judy (his wife) treated us to lunch at a restaurant called Lobster King.  Only 2 of the dishes were actually lobster, but who's counting?  It was all excellently-made seafood.  I was stuffed, and there was still plenty of food left over.

We had left Joe's house at 9:30 that morning, so after lunch we started to drive back.  The key word here is "started".  It took us about 3 hours to get out there, so you'd think it'd take us about the same time to go back.  Unfortunately, since we took the mountain route back to Taipei, instead of the ocean route we took on the way out, and since apparently EVERYONE ELSE in Taiwan wanted to use the same road, it took us 5 hours to get back.  Most of which was spent sitting in the car napping.  But we had plenty of time to admire the scenery.  Always look for the silver lining, eh?


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