Woke up at sunrise, around 5:30. The orange glow of the morning sun was just cresting the peaks across the lake. It was lovely.
Went back to sleep for a bit then got up, ready, and packed our stuff. We still had some beers left over from the night before so we brought them to breakfast so we wouldn’t have to carry them with us. Mowed down buffet breakfast and hit the street on a sim card mission so we could make contact with Agent Getz back in Zhongli. You can get most everything at 7/11s here so we went to a kiosk in one and tried to figure it out. The cashier noticed we were struggly and came over to help us out. What I’ve noticed about everyone we’ve met so far in Taiwan is that they are all approachable, eager to help, very very polite, and gracious people. They absolutely could not be nicer, and this lady was no exception. She worked the machine for us, used her name pin to poke the sim card slot open, and talked Queenie through the whole shebang. We grabbed some coffees and made our way to the bus stop.
Hopped a bus to the ropeway and got there just before it opened. We had a half hour to kill so we walked down to the water and got some pics. The grounds and lake at the ropeway are really pretty.
Queebs and I are in the first 50 to get on and we nab a gondola with another couple. The view from the ropeway across the forest and the lake is magnificent. We called James Cameron.
Once we get to the top we realize there actually isn’t anything else for us to do here. There is another gondola to a place called the Aboriginal Village which has culture whatchamadingies and an amusement park (because it was always the aboriginals dream to build a roller coaster on their native lands…), but we had to have another ticket for that which we didn’t have. So we took a fruitless tour of the gift shop and then simply headed back down the ropeway, snapping all the same pictures I took on the way up.
Halfway through the ride I found a camera setting I’d completely overlooked previously which takes a picture with the front and the selfie cam at the same time. You can be on a little stamp or bubble or fish lens or what-have-you up in the corner of whatever your taking a picture of. Queenie and I start messing with it. There will probably be a bunch of these kinds of pics from now on.
Back up by the bus stop I noticed a butterfly garden across the street. Queenie has a ridiculous fear of moths and butterflies, it’s pretty crazy. She literally freaks out and runs away terrified when there’s a moth in the house. I thought this would be a good chance to make Queenie face her fears and brave a whole garden of butterflies. Or I could at least get some funny pictures.
Queebs tells me that she’s been here before on a field trip with her school. She actually failed a class exercise because she refused to enter the butterfly garden and therefore had nothing to write in a report she was supposed to pass in. That’s how ridiculous her phobia is.
We’re going in!
There’s a nice path through the woods along a wooden walkway by a stream with Koi fish in it. It leads up to a greenhouse kind of structure where the butterflies are kept. Along the path there are a bunch of butterflies and Queenie is yelping and hopping from side to side trying to avoid them all. “Ohhhh Beester!!”. There are also some really pretty flowers along the trail.
We make it to the butterfly house without any major freakouts and I tell Queenie to take a breath and be calm before I slowly push the door open. I really expected this place to be bustling with butterflies. And I really wanted to see some cool, colorful insects in there. Instead there wasn’t a single butterfly. Not one. We walked around the whole building. It was cool in there with lots of great plants and the stream and the green and the wood and the stuff…. No fucking butterflies. Wth?
Whatever, we exit and continue up the trail to find a youth camp kind of area, a motel sort of thing, and some cabins. Seems this is a common place for school field trips.
We head back to the road and grab then next bus back to town. It’s a very pretty drive along the lakeside, wooden walkways down to small nestled areas by the water, clusters of bamboo and mushrooms. Queenie even spotted a monkey by the roadside but I totally missed it.
We get back to our hotel at Sun Moon Lake around noon and decide it’s time to get back to Taichung. The place has exploded with tourists. It’s mental. People everywhere. Employees of every gift shop and restaurant are on the street vying for the attention of passerbys trying to get them into their shops. Bus after bus goes by and flocks of people are lining both sides of the street. I’m so glad we came up here on Friday when it was relatively quiet. Made things so much more pleasant.
I give Agent Getz a buzz on the unlocked bat phone but there’s no answer. I assume he’s still asleep after some heavy investigatory work into the Zhongli nightlife.
Before leaving Sun Moon Lake we dip into a place for lunch. There was a sign above the restaurant that said “Attraction Style Meals” and I jokingly said that I loved attraction style meals! And that was that. Behind the checkout counter there was a display selling makeup and beauty products. It was called Beauty Space. I’d never seen a beauty space in a restaurant before. That’s how I knew this was the right place for lunch. It actually ended up being really good. I got a deep fried pork chop combo that came with some grilled ferns and sauce, meatball soup, and more delicious pickled cucumbers. We had a couple beers and quickly grubbed knowing our bus was leaving in 20 minutes.
Of course we lose track of time and I look at my watch and realize that our bus is leaving at that very moment. Oh shit! We pound the rest of our beers, grab our bags and race out the door and down the tourist lined street. Too late. We missed it. Damn. We give Agent Getz a call to let him know our new arrival time back in Taichung. Still no answer. Must have been a doozy last night, it’s almost 1pm.
We grab the next bus back to the Taichung station and then one from there into the city itself. Queenie’s friend Mei has hooked us up with a hotel that is close to her apartment. Queenie tells me that the stop we got off at used to be all open land when she was here 10 years ago. Now it’s all high rises and apartment buildings. The city has expanded really fast.
Agent Getz finally checks in at 1:41. He’s jumping in the shower and hitting the High Speed Rail station. Should meet up with us in an hour. Hit the 7-11 for some beers and get to the hotel. Mei is also going to meet us there too. Things are starting to take shape for a night out in Taichung!
Our doorbell chimes some insanely cute little ditty. It’s Getz. Beer for Getz. A few moments later the cuteness goes off again. It’s Mei, Queenie’s friend from high school. Back in the day Queenie was really good friends with Mei’s girlfriend. Then she met Mei and she ended up being super cool. When Mei and her girlfriend broke up Queenie kept hanging out with Mei and they’ve been great friends ever since.
Mei has a slight schoolboy appearance and a cute kind of bowl cut hairdo. She’s brought each of us Taro milk teas. Mei doesn’t speak a lot of English but she seems to understand it fairly well listening to us. Queenie acts as a go between interpreter. Mei’s all smiles and we somehow are able to communicate. She works in the court as a stenographer (which is a tough word to describe when you don’t speak English). I’d never met a lesbian stenographer before. She instantly came off as sweet and fun with a good sense of humor, I could tell she was going to be a good addition to our Taichung posse.
Getz and I run to the 7-11 to get rum for the taro milk teas. They don’t have it so we settle for vodka. Back at the room we mix up some road rockets for our trip to what looks like a crazy, colorful collection of buildings just on the outskirts of town. Mei hails a cab. It looks like Asian Knight Rider inside. He’s blaring Axwell Ingroso. We’ve got spiked milk teas. We’re off to Rainbow Village!