Samuel always says he's actually not much of a traveler. People find this hard to believe, as he has lived in a few countries and speaks multiple languages. However, I know Sammy well, and I know it's true. Like me, he enjoys new cities and living in them, but once he's there - once his belongings are unpacked and all over his floor - he is loathe to leave and explore the rest of whatever country he is in. For example, in his 9 months in Colombia he only really left Bogota once, with me and John, on a trip to the Caribbean coast to find his biological grandfather. Even this required some prodding.
So, knowing Samuel wouldn't know anything, I did some lonely planet Taiwan research in the friendly Dunedin public library before I left and decided that my one demand was that we visit Jiufen & Jinguashi, two little villages (3km apart) in the North of Taiwan. These are only about 40 minutes train away from Taipei and their main boasts are mountain walks and tea houses - I knew I could sell all this to Sam.
Below: Jinguashi street, near the "Gold Ecological Park" (further below).
This year the 'Gold Ecological Park' motto is: "2010: Year of the Silver Grass."
After several hours schlepping our unfit selves around Taiwanese mountains, we caught the bus to Jiufen, famous for it's traditional tea houses. Once there, we ordered the "mountain dragon" tea, known for it's energy and strength enhancing qualities, and were taught how to pour tea the 'proper' way. Note how serious we are about this.
The tea gave us just enough energy and dragon-like strength to get the train home, have a disagreement about Lars von Trier, and watch another episode of "The Walking Dead" (uh-mazing), before passing out - exhausted, contented and disproportionately proud of ourselves.