July ended well, and August is off and running. Our new families have arrived and most of our other staff are back on island (except for one unfortunate family whose flights were rerouted and delayed because of the typhoon that hit Hong Kong this week; they were due to arrive Thursday and still aren't here).
Friends from Taichung came for a visit last weekend, so we set off for Chi Jin Island, a popular spot for tourists and locals which we tend to avoid because of the crowd. We had a great time despite the throng: a short ferry ride across the harbor (10NT, about 30 cents, for a 10 minute crossing), shops and street stalls to discover, a close-up view of the giant cargo ships passing by, and a sandy beach patrolled by officers on horseback. A nice change from our usual shopping expeditions.
The school year is fast upon us, so on Wednesday we decided to head south to Kenting for the day even though the weather report was not promising. It did, in fact, turn out to be a nasty, rainy day, but we found an indoor water park and made the best of it. Cole worked up his courage to brave the water slides and had a blast; his cautious side is a blessing, but I love to see him challenge himself and get out of his comfort zone.
This weekend found us again on Chi Jin Island with another set of friends, who introduced us to their favorite seafood restaurant there. (Being a harbor city, seafood is huge here -- every Taiwan town claims some culinary specialty, and Kaohsiung's is fruit de mer.) The evening ferry was crowded with hungry, like-minded travelers, so once we landed our friend Ann dashed ahead to get our order started. Like most restaurants on Chi Jin, the fish is on view in bins and tanks in front, where diners choose their fishes and dishes and then wait for it all to be brought to table. We had some lovely ginger-y clams, smokey calamari, and a simmered white fish that was quite nice, too. Cole lost his appetite with the first dish, however: whole shrimp, with eyes, piled high on a platter. He felt bad for the little guys, and a little haunted, perhaps. He said that no matter where the shrimp were on the turntable, they were always staring right at him. He likes shrimp when I cook them at home; I hope he isn't off them forever.
Tim returns to work tomorrow, and school starts in a week, so our summer is quickly coming to a close. I'm looking forward to getting back into our routines, but these last few weeks have been blessedly unstructured and relaxed. We're usually not here for the summer months, but I've enjoyed having the extra time to poke around, see friends, and just hang out at home before things get busy again.