On Friday Ruby and I met up with my friend Marcus bright and early in the morning at the Zhongli train station, got a quick breakfast from 7-11 and hopped on the first fast train zì qiáng 自強 to Taipei Main Station. The sky was dark and the clouds were ominous, but the rescue shelter wasn't going to rest, and the animals weren't going to save themselves. Once in Taipei we transferred to the MRT and took the red line all the way to dàn shuĭ 淡水 in the north of Taipei City.
淡水 is a beautiful scenic area with a great atmosphere and view of the ocean. It gets ridiculously crowded on the weekends, and the old street is packed with vendors selling everything from grilled squid kăo yóu yú 烤魷魚, the local specialty, iron eggs tiĕ dàn 鐵蛋, shrimp-flavored chips xiā bĭng 蝦餅 and the one thing I always get there, almond milk xìng rén năi 杏仁奶. There's also a really funny Turkish guy that sells Turkish ice cream. Watch-out, he's a prankster!
(L: I won that inflatable mallet in a game of ring-toss. I rock! R: A view of the coast at night. Those are my folks and that's 八里 behind us.)
(One of my friends ordering Turkish ice cream…this guy loves to string you along trying to get the ice cream. His stand is worth a visit just to watch, even if you don't eat any)
There's also a really cool old Dutch fort you can go take a look around, and another popular activity is to take the fairy over to the Fisherman's Wharf in bā lĭ 八里, where people often rent-out bicycles and enjoy the sunset.
(This bridge over in the Fisherman's Wharf is a great place to watch the sun set, and catch a beautiful view of the ocean. It's also a great place to bring a date!)
But we weren't here as tourists. Like I said, we had a mission. We crossed the street and waited for our bus, number 862, in front of the McDonald's. After around a thirty-minute ride we arrived at the chē zi qí 車子崎 stop and walked the rest of the way. If you think it sounds a little complicated, then you're right. This place is really far out-there.
The shelter is on a secluded mountain road, which is great because the noise pollution caused by the one-hundred and thirty odd dogs would drive even the best of neighbors to the brink of insanity.
(The sanctuary is just up this hill, let's check it out!)
Besides the dogs, the shelter houses cats, pigs, rabbits, squirrels and even a hedgehog!
(As we entered the garden, we were soon surrounded by a lovable pack of pooches!)
(These dogs are all great, don't you want to take one home?)
We spent most of the day checking the dogs for fleas, washing them and just playing with them. A lot of the animals at the shelter are pets that people had thrown away when they got too big or because of physical deformities. One dog was born with its legs twisted around each other, which was painful for me to see, but he was happy and well taken care of, and many of the animals were missing either their tail or one or more of their legs. These are animals that have had a tough life, but the man who runs the shelter, a British guy named Sean, along with his staff have really put their hearts into making a place where these animals can live and enjoy their lives. They have a interesting diet that they put all of the animals on and make sure they get medical care, plus they work hard to find good homes for the animals. if you are interested in volunteering at the shelter, or just want to know more about their operation, check out their Facebook page.
(Check out their Facebook page, or give them a call!)
After taking care of our first few groups of dogs, we all piled into a car and went to eat lunch at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. The food was great, and the restaurant had a really great atmosphere. Then it was back to work!
(This place had a really cool look and feel to it. Besides serving food, they also had good variety of dried goods and snacks available for purchase.)
(At this point we were pretty tired, but I always have another pose in me!)
(The cooks hard at work in the kitchen)
(Oh yea! Noodles! But hey…)
(Don't forget the watermelon juice!)
When it was time to go, we made our way back to 淡水. I was soaked from continually being sprayed by the hose when we were doing the washing (thanks a lot, Ruby!) and we all smelled like a pack of dogs…the smell wasn't bad for us, as we had gotten used to it, but I felt bad for all of the people on the bus with us!
Back in 淡水, we got some Indian food and traditional cake chuán tŏng dàn gāo 傳統蛋糕 from just across the MRT station, near the Starbuck's and headed back to Taoyuan County. It was a fun day, and I honestly don't remember the last time I slept so well as I did that night.
How To Get There:
Take the MRT red line to the last stop, 淡水. From there cross the street and take bus number 862 in front of McDonald's. The bus fare will run you 30NT. After you get off the bus, walk straight a few minutes and the animal shelter is up a hill on the right.
Chinese phrases of the day:
自強= fast train
烤魷魚= barbecue squid
鐵蛋= iron eggs
蝦餅= shrimp chips
杏仁奶= almond milk
傳統蛋糕= traditional cake