It's not at all uncommon for me to see someone I met earlier on the trip several months and/or countries later, whether planned or unplanned—and the latter happens more than you'd think. It was sad to leave my friends in the aboriginal village behind, but a friend I made in Taipei was waiting for me in her home town of Tainan with a couple other friends. Famous for history and culture, Tainan is also well known for food and eating delicious food is what I spent most of my time there doing. The only time I wasn't eating was when we went to the beach and hung out in a cool bamboo surf shack. For dinner I finally got to try three cup chicken, a Taiwanese favorite of mine which I used to cook all the time back home. To be honest, I like my version better ;)
After trying the "must eats" in Tainan, I headed inland to the geographic center of Taiwan to a town called Puli, known for it's four W's: water, weather, women and wine. I only sampled the first two W's and didn't think they were anything special. I can say that all the women I saw in town had fair complexion, if no other outstanding attributes. My time was limited so after a day I returned to Taipei.
I was excited to return to Taipei so I could catch up with a guy who was in my hostel at the base of Mt. Fuji. As I was casually talking to him in Japan I happened to notice that he was holding a copy of Euclid's "Elements" in his hand; and not just any copy, but the exact translation that I specially requested when I was in high school and which my grandmother gave me for my eighteenth birthday. It's rare that I meet anyone as excited about math as I am—especially classical geometry—and I'd definitely been starving for intellectual conversation, which is exactly what I got when we met in Taipei 101.
This time my math professor friend—oh, I forgot to mention that he's a math professor—had to run, so I headed to the river to watch the annual Dragon Boat races. Rain put a little bit of a damper on the festivities but it didn't stop the rowers from rowing or me from eating. On my way back from the races a woman on the street asked me if I knew the way to the subway. I said: "Not really, but that's where I'm going and my phone knows the way so we can go together if you'd like." It turned out that she was from Japan and in Taiwan temporarily looking for work. Since neither of us had any plans for the evening we decided to hang out.
First we journeyed to a famous hot spring at the edge of town. Dim street lights hinted at hexxuses of steam singing off the river in no rush to assimilate with the hot and humid air. We entered a segregated and dingy bath house. The mens side featured two concrete pools lined with rusted non-metallic walls trimmed with sulfur yellow corrosion. Both pools were swelteringly hot and I couldn't stand more than three minutes in either. It felt good. On the way back to our neighborhood we stopped at a large and famous night market. My new friend helped me pick out a shirt, which I'm for once proud to say was made in Taiwan. While walking down a side alley we came upon a famous delicacy of the market: the penis waffle. For a reasonable price you can get a penis shaped waffle with your choice of toppings. We shared a chocolate waffle.
The next morning my new friend took me to a public garden near her house. It was one of the nicer gardens that I've seen on this whole trip and I wish I would have had more time to spend there. Unfortunately I had to rush to make a plane to Hong Kong where I was to play another frisbee tournament in two days time. The theme of the Hong Kong Hat was "Noah's Ark" and I spent a good portion of Friday shopping for a costume. While perusing animal costumes I was propositioned by two ladies to fake-strip at their friends hen party the next evening. They were willing to pay for my costume and give me chocolate baked goods, and I figured I could do both their event and the tournament party in a Mrs. Doubtfire-esque fashion, so I said yes. Unfortunately the bride got sick so they called it off. I went to the tournament party as a pair of calves.
I'd been told that many major Asian cities—Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore—were "ultra modern" and "very international", but I didn't have that feeling when I visited them. I hadn't heard those things about Hong Kong and felt it was perhaps the most modern and international city I'd visited in Asia. The tournament was held in the center of the Happy Valley Racecourse in the middle of downtown Hong Kong. Like being atop the city wall in Xi'an, I felt totally removed from Hong Kong yet I was surrounded by skyscrapers backed by mountains. For 360° there are beautiful buildings set in front of mountains, or ocean dotted with islands and specked with boats. Over half of the tournament was played in rain, while the rest was fought out in the hot molasses air that's been creeping alongside me since Taiwan.
The day after the tournament I went to one of the islands with my friend Rob. If you're new here, Rob and I were on the same team at the Bangkok Tournament, then traveled in Cambodia twice and China once, as well as played in two other tournaments together. Rob had been to Hong Kong at least twice before and had already been to the island we visited. He waited until we were on the boat out there to mention that it's deceptively named Lamma Island instead of the far more accurate Giant Spider Island. Despite my arachnophobia I really enjoyed our hike across the island. I'm definitely gonna miss hanging out with Rob. We don't have any plans to meet again but knowing how things go I'm sure we will.Soundtrack: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - The Beatles