I was a terrible tourist on Sunday. The day was nice and relaxing, but I don’t think I read a single sign explaining the cultural significance of where I was or what I was looking at. Anything I learned was thanks to Yvonne, Larry or Cam filling me in.
We spent the morning at the Yilan Craft and Cultural Center, a former logging village in the middle of the city. It was a quiet area where you could learn about Yilan’s logging past, climb aboard a model of a train, and poke your head into various little craft shops housed in the old dormitories.
Yvonne, Larry and Cam spent the morning learning.
I spent the morning wandering around the small lake, giggling at the angry ducks, and people watching. Apparently even women in clubwear enjoy learning about logging.
We slowly made our way around the complex, and I bought a small, hot cup of milk tea to warm my hands.
We lost Cam to a small group of children he was entertaining, so Yvonne, Larry and I continued around the lake.
After reuniting with Cam, we drove to a nice restaurant tucked into a row of buildings. I didn’t even bother to look at the menu; I asked Yvonne if they served beef noodle soup. When she confirmed they did, Cam and I each ordered a bowl.
Cam: “You’re eating really slowly. Are you not hungry?”
Me: “Nice try. You can’t have my soup.”
Before we left Yilan, we made two final stops. The first was a Japanese-style house that sat in the shadow of an enormous shopping complex. I think it belonged to the former president of some school.
Then on our way out of town, we stopped by a candied fruits museum, where Yvonne and I bought dried mangoes to enjoy on the way back to Hsinchu.
Me: “Does anyone want some dried mangoes?”
Cam: “No. Gross.”
Me: “Not gross! They taste like candy.”
Cam: “Yeah, they definitely don’t. They taste like fruit.”
With that tiny conversation, on an island 8,000 miles and 20-plus-hours of travel away from her, I realized I was just like my mother. The only difference is that she would’ve read all the signs… probably.