Tuesday, August 2, 2016

EER R&R: Taipei Part Four

The flight from Denpasar to Taipei was scheduled to take of at 15:40 and land at 21:55. No time changes. We took off about 16:20 and landed at 20:40. That's pretty amazing time padding, but it was a super nice surprise. I watched Creed and Dolphin Tale 2 and then started The Good Lie, which I desperately want to see the rest of. Immigration had no line, and my bags made it out pretty quickly. I made a stop for a take away sandwich from Subway and was in the taxi by 21:40. Not bad at all. D was already asleep when I got back, and I got to bed much earlier than planned which made me very happy.

Tuesday I had ambitious plans, and I actually accomplished most of them! I woke up around 9:00 but didn't get going for a while and left the house at 11:00. I went first to Bao'an Temple and Confucius Temple, which are both gorgeous and unique. I especially enjoyed Confucius Temple where there were lots of signs and explanations in English, interactive exhibits, and almost no other visitors. Bao'an had lovely koi ponds and sculptures, but the overwhelming incense smell and smoke in the main temple kept my visit there short. After touring the Confucius Temple I sat down with a laurel flower ice cream popsicle and then headed to the metro to catch the train to the next stop.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is co-located with the National Theater and Concert Hall and Liberty Square. It's a massive piece of land, and I wasn't in the mood for too much exploring - especially with threatening clouds - so I took photos and marveled at the giant buildings before heading on. The two concert halls are very typical of Taiwanese architectural style, and the CKS memorial is an odd, not particularly appealing structure. I wasn't there at the right time for the changing of the guard and didn't feel the need to stick around another 40 minutes, so I moved on to my main destination. There's a great Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center not far from CKS Memorial Hall, just past NTU Hospital. I had yet to purchase anything in Taipei for souvenirs, and I'd heard great things about this place from D and guide books. It was lovely. The prices were fixed, but quality is controlled, and that was worth it to me. I picked up some office gifts, a few last souvenirs for family, and several pieces for myself. I am not a huge fan of jade but fell in love with their turquoise blue jade stone vases so bought a pair of those. I also bought some teacups that I'll repurpose as prep bowls; they're gorgeous ceramic with a floral/glitter finish. Once I dig out the boxes I can provide more info.

Bao'An Temple

Ornate shrine.

Phenomenal carving details.

Year of the Monkey-themed stage at a roundabout.

Entrance to Confucius Temple

The signs explicitly prohibited removing any wildlife from the temple grounds.

The detail on this bridge is pretty amazing - the pillars and connectors represent bamboo.


One of the central buildings, Confucius Temple

Portico roof detail.

National Theater (or maybe Concert Hall; I didn't label these well).

CKS Memorial

Happy Ending

Folks, there was a happy (for me) ending. After a sleepless night, I carefully exited my apartment this morning and started walking to work. And there, at the bottom of the porch stairs, was a dead tarantula. Guess that bug spray worked after all! And today was the regularly-scheduled pest control treatment at my place. When I got home from work, the tarantula carcass was gone. I don't know how or why, but I don't care. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nightmare Fodder

Lebanon is home to creepy crawlies. Our compound is home to creepy crawlies. Our homes are occasionally invaded by creepy crawlies. Up until today I had not had to join the club of those who have been invaded. My luck ran out.

I came home from work and was focused on not allowing the pesky fly that was bothering me the whole walk home access to the inside. So I quickly opened the screen door, unlocked the door, and jumped inside, slamming the screen door. And there it was. Tucked up between the screen and part of the door frame (though thankfully the outside of the screen). A tarantula. Cue screaming and swearing. Cue stomach dropping. Cue jumping around and shaking/shivering.

So I did what any normal person would do. I grabbed a bottle of bug spray and re-opened the main door and sprayed the heck out of the eight legged intruder. It wiggled some of its many legs. I closed the door again, checked to make sure there were no cracks or easy entrances around the door, and went to find something stronger. Like Windex. By the time I got back, it was gone.

Cue never sleeping again.

I promptly began suffering symptoms of a panic attack, which is pretty normal for me and my horrifically acute fear of eight-legged creatures. I can't even write the real word; that's how powerful the phobia is. And then I called my mom, who sympathized and said all the right things but couldn't do what I really needed her to do - find and eradicate the thing.

The Facebook world agrees with the above meme that burning down the house is the only logical option. But seeing as how I don't actually own it and I kinda like the stuff inside and I do enjoy my career, I think I will choose not to go this route. And I will thank my lucky stars that - while this day has come - I still haven't had to encounter one (or, even worse, lose one) inside my house.

(The cats, you ask? Oblivious.)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

EER R&R: Bali Part Three

Just for good measure I ended my stay at Alaya with a morning spa treatment before meeting Kadek for the trip to Jimbaran. I was so glad he was free for the afternoon - what a wonderful connection to make. He took me to a local warung (food stall/restaurant) for some suckling pig. It was delicious, and I was glad he was there to order for me as he chose a selection of pig parts that I wouldn't have known existed but were delicious. He told me it is a place he often comes for lunch, and they did a brisk business while we dined, so it must be popular.

After that I wanted to check out an art market or two, but the heat was pretty intense, so we just stopped at a fabric store where I bought some sarongs and batiks to use as table coverings. Then it was on to the beach. I'm not really a beach person, but I like the water and thought it was a crime to come to a tropical island and not visit the beach, so I decided the last three nights would be at a resort. We arrived at the Intercontinental (I love IHG) around 2:15, and they checked me in and showed me to a lounge where I read until my room was ready. I was starting to feel the effects of the vertigo again by then and basically collapsed into bed. I didn't sleep, but my plans of seeing the sun set quickly disappeared in a cloud of dizziness. Finally I dressed and swayed my way to the hotel's Italian restaurant for their market evening, a sumptuous buffet. My favorite was the fresh caesar salad and the grilled calamari. I tried to take a walk around the resort and on the beach, but the dizziness was really impairing me by then - especially in the dark, so I fumbled my way back to my room and collapsed.

Saturday was a complete rest day. Other than breakfast and dinner (a Balinese buffet and dance show), I rested. I started Cipro, which made me feel better very quickly, and I guzzled water in case dehydration was the cause of the vertigo. I definitely felt better this evening and enjoyed the dance performance. It was too dark to get good photos, so I just focused on watching - though I was definitely in the minority on this, as my view was consistently blocked by others trying to get the best shot. Sigh.

I did a little bit better on Sunday (and felt MUCH better) and enjoyed a mani/pedi, a short nap in the heat of the afternoon, a walk on the beach in the waves, and a few hours of reading and nibbling at a cafe on the beach. The sunset was lovely, and we had a great view of planes landing at the airport. A perfect end to a tropical vacation! Tomorrow it's back to Taipei for two more fun-filled days and then a long trip back to Beirut.