Last Notes

Odd note:

On the drive back up the island from Kenting, we stopped at a couple of the freeway rest areas. These areas were like those you’ll see on some east coast tollways: restaurants, etc. One, in which we had dinner, had a large building containing a 7/11 some stores and half-dozen to a dozen fast food places in mall food court form. C and L got their dinner from a vegitarian place. I walked around looking at what people were eating and asked a woman who was eating a pretty impressive extravaganza where to get what she had. It was grilled mutton with a large pot of soup containing a number of things, plus rice and some other things. Large meal. Long way from fast food.

The rest areas had interesting urinals. The first one we hit had 20 or 30 urinals in the mens’ room. Each had a little English lesson posted above it. The lesson had an example use and variants of an English word.

In the second area each urinal had a sort of fortune cookie thing posted above it. Mine was “Deeds no words”.

Pretty classy.

We woke up late in Kenting. Got going around noon. In a place where it starts getting dark at 5 and is pretty much fully dark at 5:30, that’s a short day.

So, we drove around, going to the most southerly spot in Taiwan. Landscape straight out of Google Earth. Watched a guy piloting a very large remote controlled glider along the cliffs. The plane made fun, dive bombing sounds close up. Wing span must have been 6 feet.

As usual, we blundered in to a good experience. We were crossing back to the west coast along a short road from the east coast. Map had a waterfall that seemed like a good place to walk up to. But, the road had no sign. So, I just picked a tiny road that led off in to the hill and bush-trees. Actually, the side road had a sign that seemed to indicate that something was up the road, but we didn’t decypher the characters. Up the road, we found a Taoist shrine, complete with 20 or 30 people in the parking lot who were surprised to see us. We got out of the car and it seemed like they were emulating triffids. Quite, with heads and bodies following us, as if by sound. Not sure whether we were intruding or not. No indication as such. Just that we were oddly out of place.

Anyway, it turned out that all the people were from Tainan (?) and were just leaving after worshipping.

Once they were gone, one of the two or three women still there worked her some-English magic and we had tea and got some background on the shrine. Newly built. Approxiamately 10 people live there. There’s even a dorm room for people from out of the area to sleep on futons. We were invited to stay there next time we came to the Kenting area.

Up in the temple we were taught how to throw wooden half-moon pieces of wood to get an answer to a question. “Say who you are, where you are from, and your question. Drop the half-moon pieces. If both half-moons are face up, do it again. If both half-moons are face down, increment the ‘no’ count. Otherwise, increment the ‘yes’ count. When a count reaches 3, you have an answer.”

Sort of an answer.

Then, you move over to another place where you draw straws, in essence. The staws are long pieces of wood, one of which you pick at random. Each stick has a number on it (in Chinese characters, many of the numbers of which I now recognize). Find a drawer by that number. Inside the drawer are pieces of paper that contain, so far as I could sense, horoscopish information. Maybe less ambiguous than horoscopes, but since they were translated for us, it’s hard to say. I have mine somewhere, perhaps, but can’t find it to take a picture of it.

So, all in all, our waterfall side-trip was pretty wonderful. Friendly, open, helpful. From my experience, completely representative of Taiwan and the Taiwanese.

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