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From dolphins to fire flies

Yesterday I was invited to a company day out with one of the companies that I work with.
About 50 of us altogether.
We visited Turtle Island first, and you can see why it is called that (first pic), then we went on to a farm that is set up for family days out.

Turtle Island is a nature reserve. Only 400 visitors per day are allowed there, and no-one lives on the island. It is a small, 3km by 2km, island 13km off the east coast of Taiwan, in the Pacific. It is one of a chain of active undersea volcanoes with this sulphur hot spring (next pic) outlet (stinks) of 110 degrees C water bubbling up from the ocean bed right by the nose of the turtle (poor thing).

The traditional story of the formation of the island is thet the Turtle General fell in love with the daughter of the Dragon Sea King. The King was so enraged with this that he turned the General into an Island. The saddened Princess then turned herself into the Lanyang Plain, which is the area of land beneath the mountains on Taiwan that look out towards Turtle Island. The two now spend eternity gazing at each other with love (aaaahhhh).
Before actually stepping onto the island we went past it, out into the pacific about 20km, for dolphin watching. Quite a treat as this is the first time I have ever done this.

The island visit was a bit restrictive, as only one small trail was open to the public, and there were quite a lot of visitor groups of about 50 people, so not as peaceful as I had expected. I just wandered behind our group mostly, taking pics. at one point I stopped to get a photo of a lizard. I stood still for a while, for it to get settled, then as I took it I moved to go on and a snake dashed alongside the path for a few feet about 4 or 5 feet from me. It was about 2 foot long – but I only got a quick glimpse of it as it rustled quickly back into the jungle. It was only later that I saw the signs on the visitor path saying “Beware of poisonous snakes”! I’m glad the snake appeared more scared of me at the time, and that I hadn’t seen this sign before.

After returning from the island we went on to a farm that is laid out for family fun (mostly for kids). Fishing with bamboo poles, a bamboo curtain maze, bamboo crane making, paper and painting crafts, and a tour of the farm where we could meet all the animals and hear about the farming of rice and vegetables. There was no english – but my friends, and their kids (practising english) helped me out.
2 highlights of the farm visit really stood out though.
They taught us how to build an oven from clay/mud in which to roast sweet potatoes. Below is a collage of pictures of us, and the kids, being shown how to build the fire, and of the kids, and a couple of our ladies, trying it out though not very successfully. Lower right is someone who actually succeeded.
What a smokey, dirty, business; but everyone had fun.

The day also incuded a BBQ supper, where our party had a whole spit roasted pig in addition to all the other traditional BBQ stuff. Here’s some of our crowd.

After supper, the final part of the day, and the secong highlight, was after dark when we were all led up the trail into the jungle where we visited with the fire flies. Many children were given torches to light our way (chaos, of course), and we went about 500m up the hill into the woods; over 100 of us in all I guess. About half way we started to see the odd fly, but not much. However, at the end of the trail it was really magic. 100’s of flies. They were clustered in various places in the trees, and it was just like being surrounded by Christmas lights. They were actually flying amongst us, and people were catching them in their hands. I found that you could put your hand close to the fly and start to move it around in the air with your hand. Fascinating.

What a fabulous end to a lovely relaxing day.

By Tina

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