Recently I had the good fortune to cooperate with Tripinsiders.com in designing a new event for our guests, a morning market tour and dumpling cooking class. Tripinsiders made this beautiful two minute video to introduce me and the tour.
I really appreciate the kindness and expertise of Rosa, Ray, Gabriel and everyone at Tripinsiders for helping me so much with this, and giving me an insight into their world.
In the near future we will start offering this tour of historic Di Hua Street, and the Da Dao Cheng Area in Taipei. The tour will cover the morning market, temples, the traditional food stands and small restaurants.
September 5th, 2012: This morning, I unpacked my own Chinese tea set and went to sit in the guest house garden. I want to drink oolong tea on this sweet potato farm, and enjoy the view of Yangmingshan where my ancestors lived 100 years ago.
September 4th, 2012: I got up very early. The bright sun light shining through the guest house window woke me before 7am, even though that cup of fresh coffee I had yesterday kept me awake till very late.
We keep on driving on Route 106 through Pingxi district. There are many brightly-colored sky lanterns flying up into the clouds from the village of Shihfen, trailing smoke. There's nothing to slow us down – we only spend a minute waiting for a long traffic light and then continue our journey. I wanted to take a photo of the sky lanterns flying above the mountains while waiting for the lights, but the camera is never as good as my eyes.
September 3rd , 2012: Well, I am packed, and the scooter is ready – no more doubts. We left by 1pm, the sun was above us all the time when we were driving on Route 106. We left Taipei city and Shenkeng behind, and drove up into the mountains.
If you are bored of Taipei city, take the train to Pingxi. In 40 minutes,it will take you back 40 years.
Pingxi (pronounced 'ping shee') was built about a hundred years ago. The coal mining industry attracted young people from all over Taiwan to dig black money from deep under the earth. The railway came: winding and climbing into the mountains. And so the remote town developed, deep inside the Keelung river valley.
Taiwan is famous for its Oolong tea. Oolong is on many visitors' must buy or gift list when they come to Taiwan. In this country, tea is an essential part of everyday local culture. You will see people selling tea almost everywhere: city streets, night markets, morning markets, supermarkets, department stores, shopping malls, and tea farms.