Having missed sunset the night before, I had hoped to get up early to see it peak above the horizon. I set my alarm for 5:45am, crawled to the porch, and to my dismay saw that it was cloudy and overcast for the first time in weeks. Our ferry was due for departure at 10am so we rode the scooters back to the old lady and sat by the port watching the fishermen return from a nights work. We boarded the ferry and had the same ball retracting journey to the more southerly island of Cimei. The moment we stepped off the boat, another old lady, clad from head to toe in sun protection begged me to take a lone scooter that looked older than I was. Eventually she ushered us over to some more suitable looking bikes. Only having 4 hours on this island, we were pretty efficient in driving to all the popular tourist attractions, snapping a picture, then taking off again. Cimei compared to Wangan seems more populated despite being further away, and is slightly more impressive in terms of geological beauty, with massive basalt extrusion along the coast, and the famous two hearts fishing trap.
Knowing that our boat was to depart at 2:30pm, we headed back to the port around 1:20pm for a bite to eat at the islands one and only Family Mart. Looking out the window, we saw the ferry was already boarding passengers. Looking at my iPhone again, I realised that our boat was at 13:30 after all. Sprinting towards it, hotdog in hand, we managed to get on just in time, and had a long bumpy trip back to the mainland which made even my sea legs shake.
It was a splendid weekend away from it all, although we regret not having brought along a fishing rod. A few days later, we headed to the angling shop and purchased a basic starter kit. Having not fished since learning off our Grandfather many years back, our knowledge was deeply lacking, including how to actually cast a line. Instead of practicing in the sea where we might be mocked by fishermen, we rode to a large expanse of grass, and practised casting out into the great green yonder. We have now mastered the technique of getting the sinker in the general vicinity of the scooter helmet we had placed on the grass and now feel slightly more comfortable about trying it in the sea with the hooks attached. Later that day, we researched fishing some more, and realised the grim realties that we would soon face, including how to remove a hook from a fish mouth, the best ways to kill and bleed it, and how to gut and behead it, keeping all the entrails attached. After an hour of YouTube massacring, we drove to the local hardware store in search for some items we would need for this piscatory crusade. It felt like we were shopping with the intention of disposing of a body; buying rubber gloves, pliers, a knife, and a rounders bat. This last item we exchanged for an axe handle which was 200NT cheaper and would do the trick. Once the wind drops we shall head out to the bridge to see if we can catch anything, (hopefully not a puffer-fish in case we get tetrodotoxin poisoning).
Our swimming is improving, and I successfully managed to get a 30 ticket season pass with my broken mandarin. We have got into a routine of swimming 20,25,30 lengths, and shall hopefully do 35 tonight. Bearing in mind the pool is 50 meters long, rather than the 25 I am used to, one length of front crawl is pretty tough if you’re going flat-out. The last 15 meters is mainly a lot of splashing and not a lot of progress. I’ve garnered some tips on correct technique from the guardian, and will deploy these in my next trip including counting the number of strokes it takes to do a length (the smaller the better).
For the past three nights we have driven back from the pool and gone straight to the steak house which is our new local. For a “three course” meal of soup and side salad, a steak with pasta and a fried egg, and a ball of ice-cream to finish. The steak is brought out on a sizzling hot plate, and an egg is cracked on just before service so it cooks before your eyes. The steak is incredibly tender, barely requiring any mastication, and for a total bill of $320NT for the two of us (about £6) it’s an absolute bargain.