Seeing eye to eye with a bunch of fish heads, frozen water bottles stuffed up chickens, and Jim gets his live insect fix.

Day 221: Chiayi, Taiwan. We woke this morning and popped out into the hotel corridor to switch our bedroom light on. It’s a kooky little hotel, made all the more challenging by some over-excited kids sports teams charging up and down the corridors, banging and hooting.

And as a side note – thanks to our mate Cynthia for clarifying what ‘smoking crow weapons’ means, from yesterday’s blog post – apparently it’s opium. Not something we tend to carry around Asia with us, so all should be good.

After a late breakfast, we headed out for a long walk to Lantan Lake, with a quick detour to a local Saturday morning market. There was all kinds of everything on offer at the market, from fish heads to intestines to frogs with their insides hanging out. All a bit much, straight after breakfast.

A guy pulled over on a motorbike as we were staring at the fish stall, to ask if he could help (he spoke excellent English). We said no thanks, but he still gave us a good briefing on the different fish on offer, including the ones in the pic below which are called milkfish.

And we came across a novel way to keep chickens fresh – stuff frozen water bottles inside them.

There was also a very cute dog sitting in a box at a stall. We assume it wasn’t for sale.

We walked on to Lantan Lake which is part of a reservoir system providing water to Chiayi. It’s a little less picturesque than it would usually be, as the water level is pretty low just now.

We had a side trip to the NCYU Insect Museum, the largest collection of insect specimens in Taiwan. The last information we could find about it online dated back to 2017, but we took a punt that it might still be open. It was – and it turned out to be a very worthwhile detour.

We were lucky to turn up just as a live insect show was taking place. Jim queued up with a bunch of kids to hold pieces of wood with all sorts of huge insects hanging onto them, including an enormous elephant beetle.

After we’d had our insect fix, we walked around a nature trail through Houshansunliaobudaoxiao Park, which was just as fabulous as its spelling. The 3.5km track, which is very popular with local people, winds away from the lake up onto a ridge and back down to the main road.

Then we walked back to town past some more great Xmas decorations that are still in place, had noodles for dinner, and kicked back at home to research and book accommodation for the coming week.

Tomorrow we catch the Alishan Forest Railway train east to Fenchihu. The train used to go all the way to Alishan but due to typhoons in 2009 and 2015 the highest section of the railway has been closed. The good news is it’s being repaired and is expected to reopen in 2023.

More then.