In other news, I found some of my favorite places around! Whether to chill with some tea, take deep breaths of fresh air on mountain tops or simply read a good mag, this place has got everything I need!
Chill/Tea/Relax: Gudu (古都) Tea House.
This place is my regular spot for quiet study or a rewarding place to bring friends. I'm a regular here (at least once weekly) and people know my name. Most everyone speaks Chinese and the menu is in Chinese so it's a great escape from the English World I'm surrounded in. The drink maker, Roy, always gives me a good wave when I come in, shouting "huanying" ("welcome" in Chinese). I recommend the fried tofu, shrimp fried rice and do do yogurt drink or taro milk tea. YUM!
Fresh air: Bike rides to the top of surrounding mountains
The land here is filled with lush green and escapes the vastness that is Taiwan pollution. The views humble my limited understanding of where I am at. On some trails, I can see the dam on the Han River and the city of Fengyuan below. The ride uncovers plants of guava, hard-working field workers and lots of scary stray dogs. I'm constantly venturing to take in deep breaths on these rides, hoping to stock up on the fresh oxygen.
Fruit fix: corner fruit stand by 85ºc
As I have become fixated with having morning fruit smoothies, going to this place bi-weekly has become a must. The aroma is confident and the fruit selection fantastic. I usually pick up a few bananas and guavas, adding in the occasional pineapple, bell fruit or other seasonal fruit. The lady who works the counter has grown to talking to me more and I to her. "Yes, I'd like it sliced in half." I was excited when I figured that one out.
Work out spot/stress reliever: Rock climbing wall in Taichung
I've found an attraction to this outside rock climbing playground and find myself going more and more often. Nothing builds up a better sweat than this place. It was also a relief finding it because I brought my rock climbing shoes in hopes of finding a nearby rock facility...and I have! The first time I made it here, a local kicked my butt at climbing a few routes. Since then, I've been practicing those same routes and when I see him again, I'll be ready for him!
Current events reading: Sogo department store
The bookstore in Sogo provides a great environment for reading up on the current events I miss while stocked up on lesson planning and Chinese language learning. The bookstore, located on the basement floor, provides me with a gallery of great magazines to read including The Economist, Time, and others. I try to make it here every Sunday for the latest edition. Bookstores here in general are great places to spend hours in, whether it be looking at adorable birthday cards or browsing the extensive cookbook selection. Ah, bliss!
Chinese food craving fix: Leechee's Restaurant
This place is no more than a 3-minute walk from my school and home. The pork dumplings are mouth-watering, the fried noodles divine, and the soup selection plentiful. It can definitely be named a favorite among many teachers here in Fengyuan. I find myself craving it weekly and either grabbing it for a quick lunch or for a sit-down dinner with my roommate Sunny. I think I've died and gone to Chinese food heaven whenever I eat here. I think I'll go back tomorrow.