13th January 2020 (Day 3)
Efficient! Friendly! Government Bureau!
On this day, Constant Companion RR and I had to head down to the local Household Registration Office to get some administrative work done. It was quite an interesting experience for us. The building has a really aged look; and within, it houses various government departments to serve the needs of the Taiwan citizens.
Personally, I enjoy visiting old, local buildings like this. They almost always have a strange sense of familiarity although I am there for the very first time. It reminded me of that time when Constant Companion RR and I wandered into Chiayi’s Cultural Affairs Bureau.
After Constant Companion RR ran into a couple of wrong offices, we found the office we were looking for.
The people in the department are incredibly nice, friendly and helpful. We arrived shortly before lunch, warmly greeted by a couple of ladies, who are volunteers, standing by the door and welcoming visitors. Helpfully, they guided us to get a Q-number from the machine.
When it was lunch time, half of the department staff went for their break, leaving the other half to service the small crowd waiting in the office. We were promptly and efficiently attended by a young lady. Halfway through, a more senior lady came and took over, asking her younger colleague to go for her break. As we had so many documents to verify, the whole process took perhaps no more than 30 minutes.
Since we have to wait another half an hour for the department to process some document, Constant Companion RR and I popped over to a local eatery, directly across the road, for a quick lunch.
It was a small little joint with a few tables for the customers to dine in. The aunties working in the shop, were loud but never rude, serving up Chinese-style stir-fried dishes over rice. Food was tasty and hot, served in filling portions. It was no-frills dining at its best.
Finished with lunch, we went back to the office to collect the last bit of document. Just before we left the building, Constant Companion RR had to visit the restroom. One of the staff, who I recognised was one of the ladies in the Household Registration Office, was walking by and started chatting with me while I waited for Constant Companion RR. Super friendly folks. Constant Companion RR and I are very impressed indeed.
Driving Up Yang Ming Shan! Cherry Blossoms, Fog and Chicken!
Later that afternoon, we met up with Constant Companion RR‘s parents who took us up to Yang Ming Shan, with the promise of sakura flowers and a hot meal of chicken and mountain vegetables.
Constant Companion RR‘s dad was behind the wheel that afternoon, after perhaps an hour of driving, we arrived at our first attraction for the day; rows of beautiful trees with cherry blossoms in full bloom.
We eagerly got out of the car with our camera equipment (Constant Companion RR‘s parents are very much into photography), and spent the next hour taking pictures among the cherry blossoms.
When we were done with the photo taking in the slightly muddy field, the soles of our shoes were caked with mud. It was extremely difficult to remove the wet mud. No amount of feet stomping is suffice and we did not have access to any water point. I did what I could, scrapping the soles of my shoes against a curb, before getting back into the car and drove off to the next point of interest.
What the Fog?
Our next destination is located in an area in Yang Ming Shan which, because of the weather condition and altitude, can get extremely foggy (visibility up to 10m, maybe?).
One moment, it was still clear sky and I could see everything outside as we drove by, and suddenly, we drove into a thick fog which concealed the surrounding. The thickness of the fog left me both impressed and frightened, as Constant Companion RR‘s dad carefully and expertly navigated through the hazardous driving condition. The only thing that remained visible was the line which separates the two lanes, in the middle of the road. Even then, only a few short metres of it at any given point of time, as the rest of it ahead was obscured by the fog.
We parked in a huge, empty open-air carpark and stepped out of the fog. Immediately, the frigid air stung my face. To make matters worse, the strong, freezing wind started to randomly assaulting us. Constant Companion RR‘s parents brought us to one of Yang Ming Shan’s scenic area, Xiao You Keng. Completely covered by the fog, we only managed to smell the sulfuric odour of the hot spring. We quickly snapped a few pictures before we ran back to the car. Surprisingly, we managed to take some really interesting pictures in the fog.
A Meal of Chicken and Mountain Vegetables
Somewhere in Yang Ming Shan, was this really popular restaurant. Since it was down season for the restaurant, we were able to easily get a table and served immediately after arriving at the restaurant.
There is nothing fancy about the interior of the restaurant. Practicality is key, I guess. The food is the only reason why hordes of people flock to the restaurant. We ordered 2 plates of greens (one is a mountain vegetable with a really weird texture), a stir-fried mushroom dish and an order of their famous steam chicken. To warm our cold bodies, we also had bowls of piping hot sweet potato soup.
It was a delicious, extremely comforting and hearty meal to end our trip to Yang Ming Shan before we drove back down and into the city.