Standing at the centres of Taiwan, Lil gives Jim’s cookies to a stray dog, and getting freaked out by growling in the woods.

Day 229: Puli, Taiwan. After an interesting breakfast at the hotel (toast and jam for Lil; noodles, pickles, steamed buns and assorted weird stuff for Jim), we headed out for a long walk towards Liyutan Lake, passing the local plastic-toy Xmas tree.

The start of the lake trail, a couple of kilometres from our hotel, has monuments marking the Geographic Centre of Taiwan. The first, at the bottom of the stairs, dates back to the 1970s.

The second monument at the top of the hill, reached after many steps and reading the obligatory warnings about snakes, was built after surveying techniques had improved.

Following yesterday’s supermarket hairdo, Jim’s beard has now gone again too, so he’s back to looking like a teenager.

We exited the peak via a car park where dozens of people were enjoying a spot of (very loud) karaoke and a nice cup of tea. We must have looked at them slightly oddly, because they all became suddenly self conscious and started giggling and waving as we walked past.

An adorable three legged dog joined us for part of the walk up the road. Lil eventually took pity on it and gave it a small packet of cookies from Jim’s packed lunch.

We’d spotted a few parachutes buzzing about across the hillside as we walked along. When we arrived at the end of the surfaced road we found the local paragliding club had set up shop, along with a little cafe. The lady organiser asked if we wanted to purchase a tandem trip, saying today’s conditions were ideal. We declined, but clearly lots of others had decided it was a glorious day for floating about over the city – there were dozens of chutes flying around.

And they would all have had magnificent views across Puli town and the surrounding hills.

We continued up a gravel road to the next peak, then took a winding mountain track down to the valley bottom through a palm grove. There were awesome views across the lake and down to a fire station tucked into the hillside.

Not so awesome were the growling noises that started emanating from the trees around us. Jim was certain they were from grumpy monkeys just keen for us to move on. Lil reckoned the noises were from wild boars, and worried we might get attacked. She was also concerned about bees and snakes, but as usual Jim (not even wearing long pants) wasn’t bothered at all.

We reached Liyutan Lake, craving an afternoon coffee. There was a cafe nearby, but the saxophone equivalent of karaoke was taking place, and it was horribly loud. So we went for a wander around the lake instead, with statues of cute creatures dotted about.

Next we visited Puli Distillery, a winery selling wine and a random selection of Taiwanese goods. The shop is small with a micro-brewery attached but sadly there’s no information about what is going on in there. We asked to taste the wines, and the ladies scurried off to the fridge to find a couple of bottles. We tasted passion fruit wine and their rose wine, which won an international award some years ago. Both were delicious, if a little sweet.

Then we walked back to town, had a coffee in a cafe with no loud saxophones, and headed home for a rest before dinner.

Tomorrow we’ll either visit a craft brewery, check out some local temples, or we might just hang out at the hotel and do some much-needed travel planning. And at least we won’t have to contend with scary growling noises in the town.

More then.