I woke up and decided to relax at the park, catching up on my journal. I drove up to this Forest Park, which was very peaceful except for the military jets flying overhead about once every 10 minutes. I sat on a bench at a table under some overhang for shade, and alternated between writing in my journal and napping. I also watched a trail of ants trying to carry two small dead catepillars up a pillar. This was the most unorganized team of ants, because over the entire time I was there, there was absolutely no progress in bringing the meal up the pilar. Actually I couldn’t even tell if they were bringing it up or down the pillar, but they certainly were fighting gravity. They seriously needed better management.
I walked around the park a bit before leaving. It was truly a nice park, and a shame that not many people were there.
I went to the Visitor Center after that. Of course the lady there didn’t speak English so I had a difficult time trying to communicate that I was looking for a hotel and a place to eat. And like many visitor centers, she called up her friend that knew a bit of English for me to talk to over the phone. I left with no real answers, even after following some woman on a scooter who pointed to some generic hotel.
Instead of going to the hotel she pointed to I just kind of continued on my way. Found a place near a market to park my bike, and then I spent the next bit of time walking around the market. I picked up some bananas and an orange for breakfast and lunch. Then deciding I was done with Taitung and its lack of English speaking people, I figured I would leave early and head back up North.
This time I was going to use Route 9, which is the East Valley Scenic route. Actually, come to think of it, California is very similar. Highway 1 goes down the coast, and Highway 101 goes up the valley area. It wasn’t as good as the coastal route in my opinion, but it was still very pretty. I drove for a while, but then noticed that the oil “light” (more of just a piece of plastic that rolled from green to red) was now in the red. Hm. I decided to ignore it for the time and head for Liushidan Mountain (Sixty Stone Mt). This was quite a steep slope to climb and I wasn’t sure about the capabilities of my scooter, so now and then I would pull over and let my scooter rest for a minute or two.
Finally made it to the top, and it was all I could have expected. Matching all the photos I saw, the mountain was covered in orange daylilly flowers. It was absolutely beautiful, and there were workers picking the flowers which to be used by several shops along the mountain road. These shops used the flowers as spices, tea, soups, and also exported it dried I suppose to the rest of Taiwan. They would dry the flowers out on huge tarps spreading over their homes and roads, or they also pickled it in some kind of solution. I went to a central pavilion that looked out on the fields and ate some very mushy fruits for lunch. It was messy and unsatisfying. I went down to a food stand and was loitering around looking at what they had to offer, and tried to ask them if the drink they had was made with the flowers. A family that was there actually helped me out with their weak English. They told me the shop down the road had flower tea and other things. I mentioned to them I was a little hungry, so suddenly the mother of the family rushed to their car and returned with a whole bag ful of all sorts of goodies. Candy, some kind of sheet tablet, a crispy milk cake, and a ready-to-eat can of… congee… something. I thanked them as much as I could and said farewell. Taiwanese people are so nice.
I walked around some more. Actually I went to one of the stores and despite being showered with food I wanted to try the flower tea (which turned out to be free) and the chicken flower soup ($50, very cheap). It was alright. The flowers tasted a little strange, and after the meal my mouth felt tingly for some reason. I walked around a little more because it was so peaceful there. Then got on my scooter and headed back down the mountain. Managed to avoid pulling on the throttle at all the entire way down.
After getting down the mountain I continued up the coast. I was concerned about the oil light by now so I decided to stop at the next major town to get it fixed. I had been told it was cheap to get the oil replaced, so I was not so concerned about the price. I stopped at a repair place in Yuli, and pointed to the light. I learned it was called “Jia” or something of that sort, and the place I needed to go was more downtown. I headed back asking all who I could “Jia?” and following pointed fingers. I saw someone walk out of a 7-11 with a “Wisconson” shirt on and asked him. This guy actually had studied English, so I was saved! His name was Liu, and he took some time out of his day to guide me to the oil place. He was actually from Taipei but down there visiting his mother. After asking a few people we were at the oil place. He stayed there and we chatted while the young mechanic did his magic. It only cost $200 ($6 US) and I said goodbye to my savior and continued North. Finally after much driving I was back in Hualien, saying hello to the hostel owners.
I was tired and hungry so I went to a nearby Chinese buffet that was recommended. It was disgusting with a whole bunch of mystery foods, but filling. I accidentally mixed the soup into my tea cup because they were in the same area… Anyhow.
Went back to the hostel and despite exhaustion, stayed up talking to some travellers. I must have passed out because I don’t even remember falling asleep.