Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Northern Taiwan Tour: Two Days of Fun-n-Sun!

Corey Sanderson fortifies himself for the Suao Mackerel Festival

Saturday and Sunday, courtesy of the fine folks at the China Productivity Center, I took a great trip across northern Taiwan to Pingxi, Suao, and Neiwan where a diverse and interesting group visited a variety of tourist sites, including local museums and old streets, and participated in some of the local activities, including the lantern in Pingxi, which I had never done before. Come below the READ MORE divide for some great Taiwan fun with people who really made it worthwhile.

We boarded a bus at the uncivilized hour of 7 am for a trip out to the coast. Our group consisted of all sorts of people, including these two beautiful girls from Jordan, both students at a local university, who were fluent in English, Chinese, and Arabic... scary smart, they were.

Our first stop was Suao, where there was a mackerel festival going on.

Mindy, our competent and fun organizer. Patient, kind, and friendly, she was a rock.

Everywhere we went they supplied expert local guides to explain everything to us. Here we are gathered in front of a local temple.

Some of my readers may know the awesome Gem, from the Philippines.

Michael from Austria converses with Harnying from Malaysia.

We went to a local temple where they were opening the eyes of a giant effigy of a mackerel, some kind of religious ceremony.

The mackerel is then carried out to a fishing boat.

A priest comes to conduct a ceremony at sea.

The boat with the priest leads the boat with the fish out to sea. Blessed by a priest, the center of a ceremony, that definitely makes this fish a....

....Holy mackerel!

These guys have seen a lot of fish festivals in their time.

We next visited the coral museum. Here Mariza from South Africa points to the museum.

Naqaa and Laith from Jordan.

After the coral museum it was time for lunch. We headed out to the port again. Here our lunch is prepared.

Awesome. No stinting on meals on this trip.

The food just kept coming out in the best Taiwanese style.

Miya from CPC, a wonderful photographer and world traveler, approves of lunch.

After lunch it was time for souvenir hunting amid the shops of Suao. Here the supercute Yin Yu from Taipei hunts for bargains.

No bargains? Yin Yu consoles herself with some pink guava.

We went out to the food area next to the port for a few minutes to take pictures and sample some of the goodies.

I persuaded Corey to give up his evil ways for the duration of this picture with me.

Food court party.

After that they took us up to the overlook to view Suao. Gorgeous day.

Then back to Suao to try the famous local ice cream.

Our whirlwind tour continued with a spin through the famous cold springs. Here Corey finds a fellow Pirates fan among our fellow tourers.

The cold spring baths.

Everyone took a dip.

Then we boarded the bus and were whisked up to the Coal Mining Museum and Pingxi. Really lovely area, great place to go biking.

It was lantern festival day, so everyone was flying their lanterns off with totally achievable wishes.

The old coal industry buildings are still around, though in badly degraded condition. Lots of people out on the tracks taking pictures.

Selfie amid the wishes.

Cute young people everywhere. Pingxi is a great place to take the SO.

Miya at the Coal Mining Museum.

The very cool diorama.

Amony wonders and wanders.

Now a tourist area with tons of vendors...

...and weekend crowds.

A lantern heads off into space...

Enjoying the old street.

Laith and Naqaa are really too cute.

The Coal Mining Museum here is built around a mine with plenty of machinery around.

Amony was kind enough to pose for me.

First we took a bone rattling ride on the old mining train out to one of the work sites. Corey was quite worried.

Cute but slow.

After we came back we crossed the grounds and went into the mine.

Our guide spoke perfect English.

Introducing the equipment the miners used.

Inside the mine.

Back to our beautiful bed and breakfast for hot pot dinner. Really good.

Fireworks are mandatory.

Then off to Pingxi to launch our lanterns. The train runs right through the center of town, shaking every building on its hourly visit.

Vincent from Malaysia, a longtime local resident. He is full of fun.

Gem, Mariza, and Michael strategize their lantern.

I knew you'd rather see pretty girls launching their lantern than me launching mine.

Two of the locals on our tour set their lantern free.

The next day we drove across northern Taiwan to Neiwan.


In Neiwan the tourists are serenaded.

Really a great time. Hope you have a chance to visit one of these places in the near future. Pingxi I highly recommend: it's lovely, there's plenty of hiking, and the biking in the area is wonderful. See you soon on a Taiwan road!
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