Last Saturday, we went camping with Cliff and Jennifer's family and several friends from their church. We had a really nice time and the weather was perfect. Since we didn't realize that we would be camping in Taiwan, we never packed any gear to be shipped overseas. We bought a new tent and some cheap sleeping bags at the RT Mart in Hsinchu and were all set to explore the outdoors overnight. It was actually warm enough that we slept on top of the sleeping bags. Here's an action shot of everyone getting the tents set up.
The campsite was essentially a narrow strip of land, someone's property that had some space for about a dozen tents and everyone's cars, plus a few tables and chairs set up in the middle area for dining and socializing. It was a cozy campsite near a small lake in a farming area on the outskirts of Hsinchu, only about twenty minutes from home. Plus a bicycle rental place was located within walking distance from our campsite where we were able to rent bikes for a few hours and enjoy a pleasant and leisurely ride around the lake before dark.
The tent worked out fine for the night and we definitely plan to use it again when Lindsey arrives here in April. The bike ride was my favorite part of our weekend adventure. No surprise there, since I love cycling. My rental bike was comfortable and sported a cargo basket in the front, but when the roads got steep and hilly, I missed my Fuji road bike in Texas. I was so thrilled to be on a bike again regardless.
Here you can see Jennifer and Cliff, with their two sons, Brian and Thomas, and also Kelly and Christopher. It's amazing to live on a tropical island, where we continue to come across a variety of unexpected sights, such as cycling past all kinds of fruit growing along the roads, and even this place where people were drying some of the local fruit, persimmons.
There were several racks of persimmons drying and we even got to sample them. I'd never tasted persimmons before, so that was interesting to be able to try yet another new fruit. The dried persimmons we tasted were chilled and reminded me of dried apricots.
The workers were busy rotating the fruit on the racks and didn't seem to be bothered by our gawking. I felt lucky to have come across this scene and to be able to experience this process.
In the building where the fruit is dried, they were also making these Taiwanese style buns, most likely filled with something, although who knows what. Maybe persimmons? It could have been anything since the entire island seems to have the ideal climate for growing almost anything. This particular region is covered with orchards and greenhouses, so lush and fertile.
We rode past these unripened, green bananas and I grabbed my camera from my handy little bike basket and snapped a shot while I was riding by.
We spotted a pomelo tree too! What an exciting bike ride ride this was for me. It wasn't until I moved to Taiwan that I even knew what a pomelo was. It's wonderful to be exposed to these tropical fruits, including dragon fruit which I had also never eaten prior to relocating here.
There were all these smiling Buddha statues around the lake. I never knew why their ear lobes were so huge and found out that the exaggerated sized ear lobes symbolize good fortune for some odd reason.
I've seen this figure around here a few times, but don't know what or who it/she is.
More smiling big-lobed Buddhas.
From this photo, you really cannot imagine how huge this statue is in person. We spotted this gigantic Buddha statue that was by far the largest one I have ever seen, near our campsite. It was monstrously huge. In fact, I saw it up ahead from a far off distance and thought it was a King Kong replica, but as we drove closer, I realized I was mistaken and that it was a larger than life Buddha figure. I have no idea why such a massive statue was erected, but there is an equally gigantic, ostentatious temple right next to it, currently under construction.
We got to ride over a suspension bridge on our bicycles! What a rush it was, to pedal along the wobbly wooden slats, where only 15 people at a time were allowed to cross.
From here, I'll just let the photos do the talking so I can hurry and finish this post.