May 13, Tanshui

We were joined by Paula's old roommate, Beth, that morning in the train station. We took a long subway ride to the port town of Tanshui ("dan shwey"). This is a port town at the mouth of a large river. Phil was reminded of all the luxury of the Balboa Fun Zone. It was actually larger and more popular than The Zone. A large portion of the day was spent touring down the boardwalk. To start things off, Dad followed through on the offer to suck a small sea creature from its cooked shell. This would turn out to be a mild appetizer, when compared to squid on a stick and other delicacies we saw of the area.

We stopped for lunch at a small Indian food shop. Chocolate nan was the side of choice, but the burrito style meats did the job. This was also Avery's first introduction to noodle eating. The appropriate lessons were given in slurping and baby bird techniques. After lunch we rode the ferry to the other side of the river. More of the same experience was waiting for us there. Stern winds and a light rain sent us back to our home side of the harbor quickly.

A detour was used on the way back and we found overcrowded streets with crazy shopping. Here we were instructed in the art of water dancing. This is basically rubbing your hands on a pot and making the water inside it vibrate until it splashes out. The pot's shopkeeper provided sage advice, "slowly, longer." The girls found a shoe cobbler and put him to work on a closet supply of wedding gear. More light rain hurried us into the five level Starbucks to plan our escape.

We had a hard time catching a train back home. Being tired and wanting seats we jumped out of a departing train into a less populated one. But there were still not nine seats available. So another last minute move was made to an even emptier train. Twenty minutes later we rode out of Tanshui with a whole compartment of seats. En route, we deciphered the signs listing priority seating. It looked like pregnant, old, injured, and child carrying people got the first choice of seats. But we were uncertain in which order those people got priority.

Our last stop was the big night market. We searched to find a nice restaurant for relaxed dining. Our search ended us up at McDonald's for something less exotic. We did learn that Narnia's Mr. Tumnus had a close resemblance to a fetching young man who would be joining us at Josh and Paula's reception. Beth seemed more excited about this than any of the rest.

The night market was crowded beyond belief, but the shopping selection was the same every fourth shop. When it seemed there was no more room for people, more vendors showed up and laid out tables and blankets in the center of the walkway. Only minor purchases were made during the excursion.