Monday, September 14, 2009

Hsinchu for a Day

My wonderful Taoyuan language exchange partners treated James and I to a day trip in Hsinchu County, the Silicon Valley of Taiwan. Hsinchu is part massive industrial complexes and part beautiful mountainy splendor.

The gang in Neiwan
My friends introduced me to these tiny fragrant zhongzi - special to the area. They're wrapped with flower leaves (I think....regular zhongzi have big banana leaf wrappings). And on the inside there's rice cooked up with bits of meat, mushroom and nuts.
From B-day, Hsinchu
We spent the first half of the day at Neiwan Station, a touristy old town with an old movie theater converted to a restaurant and lots of little stands with people peddling Hakka wares.
Outside the old Theater
Lots of other tourists
Old Neiwan Station, still in service
oink oink
Then we drove up into the mountains to the "Lavender Cottage" a beautiful restaurant with great views of the valley. Everything was lavender themed. I couldn't help but feel bad for the poor employees who have to wear purple every. single. day.
View from the Lavender Cottage
Somebody's Bunny Photoshoot
Everything was very cute - not the kind of place grown men would venture to on their own accord.
The "cottage"
Working mailboxes, one for mailing family, one for mailing exes. Go figure.
Then for dinner we went to Zhubei, a wealthy city where lots of the tech people live. I was surprised by the clean storefronts and wide sidewalks - it reminded me more of streets I'd see in the U.S. than anywhere else in Taiwan.

For dinner we went to an amazing Hakka restaurant (Hakka is a Chinese ethnicity. There are lots of Hakka in Taiwan and in Southern China). Swordfish, squid, salty-soft tofu, kung pao chicken - everything was great. But my favorite were the sweet potatoes!
Candied sweet potatoes
My picture isn't very good, but the owner brought warm sweet potatoes to our table covered in a syrupy substance. We were told to eat them immediately. We picked them up and dipped them in icy water. The effect was the outside hardened into a candy coating while the inside was still warm and delicious. Something I really want to try at home!

1 comment:

Michael Rettig said...

Hsinchu was one of the last places I visited before I left, my friend's family lives there. The mountains and the tech district are both very impressive, for totally different reasons.