Having started out the morning on the east coast of the country, it was now time to visit the west coast. However, things initially were a bit nervous. You see, previous day presented us with a conundrum as there was a real risk of not having enough tickets for the three of us. Fortunately enough, things got smoothed out as we arrived at the station ten minutes before the recommended time, consequently resulting in us getting all of our tickets for the long journey. Because we were going from east to west, we had to transit through Taipei, then to Taichung. As the train system here is excellent, this didn’t pose any problems, unless sitting down for several hours qualifies. I just want to take the time to acknowledge how great the train systems are in Taiwan: they’re super punctual (and when they’re delayed there are announcements), modern (ours was decked out in a Hello Kitty theme), and the aesthetics of the station aren’t bad to look at. Anyways, after a morning of journeying via rail, we finally arrived at Taiwan’s second city. Right away you could see the difference between the small city of Hualien/the east coast versus the large, bustling city. Even though we spent a day in the former, it took a bit to readjust, not that I’m complaining about anything!
In terms of the actual quality of the day, let’s just say it was very chill. Meaning, we unwound in our wonderful hotel til the evening when we went out to the night market. Some days you just don’t feel like forcing something to happen, you know? At any rate, our midday break turned out to work in our favor as well hit the market with gusto. However, we didn’t quite account for the fact that this particular market was right off of the main shopping area. So, we had to push our way through a throng of people in order to earn our dinner. And while I know everything may sound repetitive, but these markets are totally worth the minor jostling! There are lots of tantalizing little booths to stop by, and I always regret not having more room to chow down on. What was special was the fact that I had snails for the first time! Okay, maybe they’re not your first ten choices of things to eat, but these were decent, albeit a wee bit salty. Hey, gotta delve into local cuisine. Rest assured we did have more traditional food, i.e. beef, fish, and other Taiwanese delicacies. After about an hour, hour and a half, the belated food coma started to tear its head and it was at that point we opted to call a cab back to the hotel to end the day.
Oh, and the New Year’s festivities? Other than the occasional “Merry Christmas/Happy New Year” stickers on stores, you didn’t notice much. It was rather anticlimactic when there weren’t really any noticeable fireworks. I believe this is due to Chinese New Year occurring in February, so the first of January isn’t really their thing here. Hey, I at least got to enjoy a peaceful sleep, one that would help me kick off 2019 with a bang. Can’t complain at all!