It was then that I noticed a tick embedded in my leg. We tried several ways that Erin and I had thought were right (burnt out match and hot metal on the tick) and visited a pharmacy for their recommendation (some cream that I was instructed to leave on for 24 hours). After driving up the beautiful North-East Coast of Taiwan we finally got to our motel on the outskirts of Taipei which had an Internet connection. It was only then when we were corrected of our misconception as the widely-held advice was to gently remove the tick with tweezers; the one thing we thought you absolutely shouldn't do!
Internet: +1, Old Wives' Tales: 0, Taiwan Pharmacies: 0.
Before I go on, I feel I should explain taiwanese motels. With big families and limited space, homes can often be very crowded; sometimes containing three or even four generations of a family. Recognizing that this makes privacy for couples difficult, taiwanese motels provide private, secluded, romantic rooms with hourly rates. Understanding this, we were intrigued by a colleague's recommendation for a motel on the outskirts of Taipei and reserved three nights at their nightly rate.
The first thing we notice on arrival is that there is no lobby. Instead there's a drive-up booth and a gate. After finding our reservation and getting payment, they waved us through to our garage. The only way to access the room is through the one-car garage (which also happens to have a small vending machine filled with things you would find in a sex shop). Going through the door in the back of the garage to our room and putting in the key card activated the soft, multicolored lights and smooth music. Playing with one of the three remote controllers that controlled everything we were able to get regular lighting and change the music. Most of the room seemed relatively clean and after we got over the overt sexual tones (e.g. complimentary condom by the bed) we were able to settle in.
The next day it was raining in Taipei and we were a little tired from all of the travel, so we decided to head into the city. We had lunch at a wonderful sushi place called Sumi Sushi then we found a Starbucks to have a drink and relax at. As the afternoon wore on we made our way to the Museum of Contemporary Art which had some very innovative and interesting pieces. We finished the night with dinner at The Mayan: the best Mexican Restaurant we've been to in Taiwan.
Friday was our last day in Taipei, and even though it was still a bit wet out we decided to got to Pingxi for the day. Driving from the Taipei Zoo on route 106 for about 45 minutes took us to Jingtong station. The last station on an old coal-mining railroad that has been renovated for tourism. We grabbed some prime seats at the front of the train giving us a wonderful view as we rode out to Sandiaoling. Following the directions of our Lonely Planet guidebook we got off for a hike up to some beautiful waterfalls.
Seeing how beautiful the falls were and having the afternoon free we decided to take the authors advice and continue on the trail walking back to the previous train station.Though there were some warnings in the book we were not fully prepared for how harrowing the hike became. There were many times when local dogs were barking and snarling at us. We climbed down old trails with trees covering the way and slick wet stones. There was even a long tunnel we had to pass through without a flashlight. Even so, it turned out to be an exciting adventure. We finished the day at Pingxi where we got more paper lanterns that our families had enjoyed so much over Christmas.
Saturday was the last day of our trip so we spent most of it driving back down to Kaohsiung. On our way we stopped at a nice ceramics museum and a temple with an outdoor market nearby. By the time we got back to Kaohsiung we were pretty tired though. It had been a great trip and we were glad we went. It was very nice to see a little more of Taiwan before we leave this summer.