True Californians at heart, we couldn’t escape the draw of the ocean for long this week. But we didn’t just lounge by the sand this time! Instead, we took the train a few stops further to the Daxi Fishport.
Being pescatarians, we’ve sometimes run into trouble avoiding meat when we go out for meals here in Taiwan. The country has a large Buddhist population, so it’s not impossible to find vegetarian options, but our lack of skill in Mandarin can make it tough to know for sure what we’re ordering, even when we try to awkwardly inform our servers “Wǒ bù chī ròu!” Yulun and Ren-Hong have been encouraging us to explore Daxi, and a seafood paradise like the fishport seemed like the perfect place for us to get a delicious, pescatarian lunch. And boy were we right!
Every day at around 1 or 2 p.m., fishing boats flood into the port at Daxi and unload TONS of freshly caught fish. If you head down to the harbor, you’ll see dozens of boats gliding to and from the docks, and hundreds of fishermen and merchants sorting out the day’s catch. You can buy fresh fish right there if you want, but most of the day’s catch goes to vendors and local businesses.
Rather than try to wrangle a bag full of raw fish on the train to cook it ourselves, we headed up into a big building just off the pier that was absolutely packed full of vendors and chefs. Two full floors of stalls brimming with some of our favorite dishes, plus types of fish we’d never even seen before! The language barrier didn’t pose much of a problem here—all we really had to do was point at what we wanted and they’d throw it on the grill—but a very friendly English-speaking shop owner spotted us as Americans right away and translated the things that weren’t quite so simple to order. With his help, we ate our fill of grilled fish, sashimi, fried rice, and absolutely GIGANTIC shrimp. Ryan even wore his shellfish shirt to celebrate the occasion.
We didn’t catch the name of half the things we were eating, but it was definitely some of the freshest fish we’d ever had. One of these days, we might even try to bring some home and cook it ourselves! For now though, we’re happy to leave the food prep to the experts, and we’ll definitely be heading back for another meal there sooner rather than later.
Late in the afternoon and stuffed to the gills with seafood, we finally headed home. It was one of the hottest days we’ve had in a while here, but the clear skies and the view it offered almost made up for it. It still took a few hours of recovering in front of the fan before we were able to do much of anything else that day though.
After the sun went down we were feeling rested and ready for one last quick trip before bed, so we took a walk down the street to Toucheng’s weekend night market. And who do you think we ran into while we were there? The very same shopkeeper who helped us order at Daxi! Three towns away! What are the chances of that?
He ended up right next to us while we were in line to order some Spongebob-shaped pastries. Not only did he recognize us, but he actually bought our food for us! He waved off our thanks and wouldn’t hear a word of us paying him back. We walked home a little stunned and a lot grateful.
Every single person we meet here has been so incredibly kind, we’ve been kind of blown away by it. Everywhere we turn, there’s been so many people ready and willing to help us get by and make us feel welcome. We’re coming up on the end of our second week in the country and our first week of real work is right around the corner. We should be feeling a little nervous about navigating the city, about the five and a half months that still stretch ahead of us, but somehow, we can’t help but feel like things will work out okay.