How is it already time for the Holidays?! Our family enjoyed a solid 3 month break from traveling (for work or leisure) but we are back at it in full swing!
Of course we have still been taking full advantage of living on our beautiful island. Enjoying beach days, and time out on the sea wall. The weather here keeps playing tricks on us. Most of the time it’s still pretty muggy and warm, but there have been a few cooler days thrown in. We experienced one almost typhoon, and a full fledged typhoon.
Thankfully Japan is very well prepared for typhoons. Their structures are all solid concrete. They may not be aesthetically pleasing, but pretty isn’t going to save you from a strong winds. We all escaped to the seawall for a few hours before our ‘almost typhoon’ to play a few rounds of ‘exploding kittens’. As morbid as it sounds, it really isn’t, and it’s our new family favorite.
After our ‘almost’ typhoon we really did get slammed with typhoon Saola (which is the name of a very rare, deer that lives in Asia…which I learned from our Literacy Intervention Instructor and got to read a book with my class about…who knew!?). It wasn’t awful, just a lot of wind and rain and I was very thankful that we never lost power at our house. The eye of the storm passed right over our tiny island and it was super cool/strange. There was a lot of wind and rain for about 3 hours, then COMPLETE calm. After the calm though, the wind and rain was back in full effect for another 3-4 hours.
After the typhoon though, we had an awesome Halloween with our neighborhood.
Most importantly, we had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends, a few weeks early, before we all scattered to, quite literally, the ends of the Earth.
As you can see from the picture below, we also added a new family member over the Halloween holiday. We had been hearing a loud ‘meowing’ sound for a few days and could NOT figure out where it was coming from. We thought it was coming from the top of a concrete barrier and several nights we went out with flashlights trying to locate the source of the sound with no luck.
Finally, while we were trick or treating, we found the source. A poor, kitten had been abandoned and was living in the flower bed of the neighbor across the street. The neighbors didn’t want to keep him, so a couple of vet trips later we now how Poquito AKA Pocky as our newest furry, family member.
After ‘friendsgiving’ Alissa and I were off to Taipei for a quick, weekend getaway. Garrett and I have been playing some MAJOR parent tag the past few months with our work and leisure trips.
Alissa and I left early on the Friday before Veteran’s Day. We met our girlfriend Katherine who was already in Taipei for work. After wandering around the Taipei airport for what seemed like an eternity, trying to find a Starbucks, we got a car and headed towards downtown. Katherine was done working for the day thankfully, so we headed to an Indian food restaurant that had good reviews, called Balle Balle. Because I mean, who doesn’t eat Indian food in (sort of) China?! After our Indian food we headed out to find an Ice Monster, which Taepei is well known for. They specialize in shaved ice, although they were kind enough to give us a Popsicle sampling as well. Their mango shaved ice was voted as one of the top ten desserts in the world by CNN,and please let me tell you, this was NOT fake news ;p. It was to-die-for! We also tried the coffee shaved ice, and it did not disappoint either.
Next ,we headed towards the zoo to catch a glass bottomed gondola ride to the top of the mountains where we got to purchase tea from the Mekong Tea plantation. The ride was very serene and the view was gorgeous. We found a cute cafe in the middle of the jungle where we enjoyed some tea and coffee before heading back down the mountain.
If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, their hair washing salons are a MUST! They’re all over the city and you can easily walk in and have the most amazing hair washing experience of your life. After they massage some sort of oil into your scalp for about twenty minutes while giving the most amazing neck/shoulder massage EVER, they lather your hair up for another 20 minutes or so, using just a squirt bottle and shampoo. After you have a huge lump of shampoo on your head, you’re taken to a back room and given another head massage as they get all of the shampoo out of your hair. After a quick blow-out, you’re good to go and your hair feels AH-MAZING!
We stopped for a quick, easy, Dim Sum dinner at Tim Ho Wan then off to another must do in Taipei; the night markets. We went to the largest night market, Shilin, and I don’t know what else to say about it besides that it’s your typical night market. Anything and everything you can imagine and never knew you needed or wanted. The most interesting thing though, was the ‘stick-on’ eyebrows that the locals put on their dogs.
We nearly died in the Taxi on the way back to the hotel. Our driver was quite visibly (and audibly…as demonstrated by his incessant yawning) exhausted and was nodding off at all of the stop lights. So instead of get out of the cab and find another one, or walk, we decided it would be a great idea to just laugh hysterically. Perhaps not one of our better life decisions. Hopefully our poor driver went home and went to bed after dropping us off, and didn’t endanger the lives of any one else.
The next morning we woke up and head out to the Shifin waterfall which is hailed as Taiwan’s ‘Niagra Falls’. It’s not nearly as large as Niagra but it was still beautiful.
Next, we got to head to Shifin ancient street where we had the opportunity to write our wishes on a paper lantern and send it off into the air. It really was a once in a lifetime experience!
We had worked up quite an appetite after our Shifin adventures, so we headed back into the city to find some Beef Noodle Soup at a famous restaurant called Yongkang that has been around since 1963. There was a line outside the door, but thankfully it moved very quickly and the soup was delicious. The owners gifted us a bowl of pig intestine dumplings. We weren’t rude and tried them, but it was not something I would have ordered normally.
After our beef noodle soup we had heard that there were some ‘must eat’ scallion pancakes just down the street. So we headed that way and while we waited in line for the pancakes, we attempted to divide and conquer and get Boba tea. However, the place that I had scoped out only had ONE boba tea drink. Although I wish we had gotten boba tea, I don’t feel too terribly sad, as I had a good run with boba tea cafes in high school, ha! I’m sure this boba tea was different/better though.
After we ate ourselves silly, we walked about 30 minutes to offset some of our caloric intake to our massage appointment. We had a WONDERFUL Thai massage. Although I said before, after our Thai massage experience in Thailand that I was not a fan….I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t mind Thai massages, but can only handle them about once a year. This sounds RIDICULOUS and is SUCH a first world problem, but the massage completely took it out of me! My body was jelly afterwards.
After our massage we headed to Taipei 101, which is the tallest building in the area and beautifully built. We ate at a renowned dim sum place called Din Tai Fung, in the basement of Taipei 101. We nearly had a 90 minute wait, but without going into too much detail; we are very travel savvy people and had about a 30 minute wait instead 😉
After our dinner we headed to the top of Taipei 101. The workers warned us that visibility was zero, and they weren’t joking. We felt like we needed to check the box anyway, so we paid our $13 and headed up the extremely fast elevator. When we got off the elevator it looked like the glass was frosted because it was so cloudy!
We crammed A TON into our short 48 hour trip, but it was worth every bit of exhaustion and the insane amount of planning we had to do between everyone’s travel schedules.
As the holidays get nearer we are missing our friends and family back home a little more this holiday season. But we are extremely excited about everyone who has made travel plans to see us over the Summer months!
We appreciate and covet your prayers for perseverance during this busy season of life. We are thankful daily for the opportunities we have to travel, live and work in a different area of the world.
We love and miss you all!
❤ The Butlers