A very slow day from A to B, taking Pop Bear Mummy’s sound advice, and a very light continental breakfast.

Day 233: Puli & Nantou, Taiwan. Today was one of those days where we spent all day getting from A to B – even though A and B (in this case Puli and Nantou) are only 50km apart.

We packed our bags this morning, which is something we’ve become pretty nifty at – perhaps not surprising given today marks 8 months since we set off from Sydney on our Asian Rambles.

Our checkout was 11am which left us with over 4 hours before our bus to Nantou at 3.30pm. The hotel said they were more than happy for us to perch ourselves in their lobby for a few hours, and even served us some of their ‘special soup’ for lunch (and Lil gave the unidentifiable meat bits to Jim).

At 1.30pm we decided we needed a change of scenery so slung our backpacks on and walked to a local cafe. There was a gorgeous dog in a pushchair next to his owner which tugged at our heartstrings – the poor thing was obviously really old, and we’re guessing being pushed to the cafe in a cart is the only way it’s going to get to go out at all. Simply adorable.

An elderly monk next to us made a couple of attempts to strike up conversation. We’d no idea what he was saying as it was all in Chinese, and his efforts to speak more slowly and more clearly and more loudly did nothing to help. We think he said something about Canada and Lil thought he mentioned Mexico but really, we have no idea. Eventually he bowed and waved and headed off carrying several large bags of fresh fruit.

We walked around to the bus station just after 3pm and plonked ourselves on a couple of hard plastic seats. Jim went to one of the counters to check our bus schedule, and the lady confirmed it was 3.30pm, and to queue at gate 5. So at 3.20pm, we queued at gate 5. One of the staff members came over and asked where we were going – we said Nantou at 3.30pm and he said “no one here knows that bus”. We pointed out the lady behind the counter seemed to know about it, so he went and checked with her and came back to announce “your bus will be here soon!”. Good job.

The bus took nearly 2 hours to cover the 50km to Nantou – it was slowed down by late afternoon traffic and gaggles of school kids piling on at a couple of stops. We arrived in Nantou just before 5.30pm, found an eatery nearby and had some seriously good beef brisket noodles for dinner.

Nantou is a decent sized town, with lots of restaurants and shops – including one we passed which has a bizarre name of Why and 1/2. Lil looked it up later on, and the brand seems to be based around a bear called Pop Bear. The web site explains that ‘Pop Bear’s dad and mommy like the colorful and pop pop art, that’s why he named his darling baby Pop Bear’.

And according to the web site, Pop Bear Mummy always says: “This world, we see only half, the other half is a surprise! Just a little bit different angle, you can see the other half of the world’s better! So Pop Bear is always super happy, because there will always be 1/2 of love and surprise!’

So there we go then. Another brand mystery solved.

And Jim of course couldn’t miss the opportunity to pose with a giant inflatable character. With Chinese New Year just over a week away, lots of decorations are starting to appear around towns. We’re not sure if this guy is the God of Good Fortune, or if he’s just trying to get us to play the lottery (which of course could be linked).

Afterwards we caught another bus to our accommodation – this time just a 10 minute ride. We checked in and asked about breakfast (when we booked the hotel, it mentioned a continental breakfast). We tried not to giggle as we were given a pile of 7-Eleven vouchers to go and buy our own breakfast up the street. The vouchers add up to about 1.75 AUD each per day, which just about buys a small coffee. That’s a pretty light continental breakfast right there.

Lil popped out to fill her water bottle from the water dispenser in the corridor and came back giggling. Our neighbours clearly don’t believe in packing lightly – along with some huge suitcases outside their door, there’s a kid’s flash go-cart. Though sadly it looks like the kid must have been driving a little recklessly, as one of the wheels has come off.

Tomorrow we’re planning to go for a much needed long walk, after sitting around for hours today. And perhaps we’ll take Pop Bear Mummy’s advice and try to look at the world ‘from a little bit different angle’.

More then.