Lifting up my head, I saw the small, rocky stairs extending on and on until disappearing indistinctly in the mist. Streams of rain scoured down the terrain, welcoming me enthusiastically. With each step, my shoes fought the overpowering water-army. With each step, my shoes got defeated and run over by countless raindrop-soldiers. Even so, I still climbed up determinedly. In the hazy and drizzling world, I found myself in peacefulness and tranquility.
Today was my first time to visit Jiufen in north of Taiwan. Mutterings of complaint flew between tourists’ conversations incessantly, but the rain still kept sweeping down from the sky. This bad weather was not a surprise since this place, located between mountains and a gulf coast, is known for raining around three hundred days out of a year. Along the hills, old, traditional houses packed closely to each other. The fading color and accumulating mosses on the red bricks proved the houses to be senile. This town, once flourished because of mining during the Japanese colonization, now only had the rusted memories and stories from the past.
With murky clouds above and closed stores beside, gloominess surrounded me. The dense, humid air, allied with the icy winds, attacked and irritated every bit of my nose and face. Turning reddish, I soon became a clown, heading nowhere but performing on this spiritless stage. Suddenly, my sluggish nose detected something. A mixing scent of warmness and saccharine hung in the atmosphere.
It is the Chinese oatmeal, my favorite!
A mile away, a store sign, “Grandma’s Traditional Sweets,” shone like the guiding light for the lost travelers. I hurried my steps, not because of hunger but the need for rest after such an exhausting endeavor.
A mid-aged woman, sitting next to the steaming stove, smiled when my friend and I entered. The light covered the entire shop with a mild golden shade. The signatures of customers and pictures of celebrities who have patronized the place in the past filled every spot of the ancient, mottled walls. The old Chinese calligraphy displayed the menu of the sweets with the price range from thirty to sixty, based on the size.
“Hey, Jenny, want to share?” my best friend poked me lightly
Her asking quickly saved me from struggling with this spending. She knew I have always been reluctant to spend money on my own even though the oatmeal dessert only cost around one and a half U.S. dollars.
Since the poor weather has disrupted the usual flows of tourists, the lady prepared our energizer at leisure. The smell of taro, red beans, peanuts, grains, and green beans aroused my taste buds. The first spoon was the entrance to heaven, so delicious, so mild, so unimaginable. The mini taro balls, like the fresh taro just dug out from the Mother Earth, contained an original and chewy texture. The warm oatmeal dissipated my chills from the wetness, and previous discomfort.
The earlier downpour of rain has stopped, and the December sunshine finally made an appearance and dispelled the mists. The singings of birds took over the mumblings of complaint. When my friend and I departed and searched for another unexpected paradise, more and more home-shops were opened. Some residents visited their neighbors and chitchatted about weather; some just carried out a rattan chair to the store entrance and read the newspaper, enjoying the after- thunderstorm freshness. There was no such a thing as hurry or time existing here. As I tried to follow the pace of the people here, I indulged myself in ease and peace.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.