More bishops came in last night and this morning. Lots of greetings all around at breakfast! It is so great to see my brother and sister bishops, and to see many of the spouses as well.
The day started with our group growing to add four more -- the Provenzanos, Andy Dietsche and Allen Shin. The Provenzanos came in last night, and the Bishops of New York arrived at 5:30 this morning. They joined the Hanleys, Waldos, Kirk Smith, Peter Huang (our guide) and Steve and me.
This is the day we were to experience various modes of transportation -- the shuttle to the transit station from the hotel, the train to Tamsui, a bus to the wharf, and a ferry back up to the older section of Tamsui. We managed, with the help of Peter, to navigate the movement of 12 people with great ease! It was fun to ride on the metro train to the end of the line to Tamsui (really Danshui).
Here is a little blurb on Tamsui from Wikitravel:
Tamsui  (淡水, or Danshui, Danshuei, Tamshui) is a smaller city to the north of Taipei that was the center of shipping and commerce in northern Taiwan in the 19th century. The city is still popular with visitors from Taipei and boasts many historical attractions, and is a popular location for viewing the sunset. The town calls itself by the English name "Tamsui", but the Taipei MRT system calls it by its Mandarin Chinese name, transliterated as "Danshui". "Tamsui" probably comes from the town's name in the Taiwanese language.
When we got to the end of the line (Danshui), we took a bus to the wharf. It is EXTREMELY hot today, and the humidity is high. We were greeted by the sight of the LOVE bridge -- and proceeded to walk over to it. As this was early in the day, the area was quiet -- very few people walking about. It felt as though we had the place to ourselves, which was very different from our experience at the National Palace Museum yesterday.
There were boats of all kinds in the harbor, and the breeze coming off the water was a healing balm against the heat of the day. I joined the ranks of some of the women walking around the area by using my umbrella instead of a hat to shelter myself from the sun. It is beautiful walking around here!
Near the entrance to the bridge is a bell that is to be rung -- 3 times to be in love forever. Steve rung it 3 times for me. Whew -- that's a good thing! There were also prayers attached to wires near the bell -- here is a picture of them. We crossed the bridge and headed along the boardwalk back towards the hotel where we had lunch. We stopped along the way to look at the area across the river and to rest a bit in the shade.
At lunch we once again asked Peter to guide us through our meal -- as always, he was spot on is his choices. Everything from watermelon water to drink, various forms of dim sum, noodles and fried rice, scallops, shrimp, an appetizer platter of various things include a Taiwan version of kimchee -- it was delicious, and VERY inexpensive, as has been the case everywhere we have gone to eat.
After lunch we walked over to catch the ferry to the old part of Tamsui -- a shopping district with little shops and places to eat. For US $2.00 we took the ferry -- the breeze coming off the water was we travelled along was another welcome respite (albeit temporary) from the pounding heat.
When we arrived at Tamsui (the old part) we stopped in a few shops -- the scenes we encountered were wonderful! Here are a few of the things we saw as we walked along (I will continue writing after you journey with us on our walk):
And of course no trip to Tamsui without a stop at the Hello Kitty teahouse --
We walked along the street -- vendors trying to entice us into their shops to buy their wares. The only thing people bought was tea from one of the famous tea stores -- Ten Ren. When I was in Taiwan 2 years ago, the Rev. Cn. Lily Chang took us to a Ten Ren store that has a restaurant in Taipei -- everything was made with tea, and was wonderfully delicious!
We walked back to the train station and waited for our train back to the station where we could get off and take the shuttle bus back up to the Grand Hotel. We were all VERY hot and many were tired. I quipped that the added bonus of today's excursion is that we all got to have a sauna experience for free! Here you can see the Bishop of Long Island and you-know-who involved in conversation!
We said "see you soon" to Peter after we got to our station. He arranged to meet us at 6:30 at Din Tai Fung -- a dumpling house with many locations in Taipei. We agreed to meet at the location in the basement of the Sogo department store. Outside the restaurant in the basement of the department store is a grocery store not unlike Bristol Farms or Gelsons in Orange County.
Although Peter arrived at 5:50 to put his name in for tables (they don't take reservations), we waited until after 6:30 to be seated. This place is wildly popular because of the dumplings. We couldn't wait to try them, and they didn't disappoint! We had pork dumplings, spinach dumplings, shrimp won tons, beef noodle soup, and desert dumplings (taro and red bean). Here are some pictures of the people making the dumplings. It was fun to watch them as we were waiting to be seated!
After dinner we said goodbye to Peter -- he has been a wonderful, kind, attentive host. He kept checking in on people during our two days together: "How is your energy level?", "How are you feeling?", "Do you think we need to order more food?" He was the best of guides. He will be returning to the US on Thursday, so the bishops and spouses gathered with Steve and me to wish him well and thank him.
These first two days in Taiwan, traveling around with some of my fellow bishops and their spouses has been a great entry back into this country and this diocese. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we start the House of Bishops meeting with an opening Eucharist. I can't wait to check in with the bishops at my table and to catch up. I am also anticipating a great meeting, hearing from our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion in this part of the world about how mission and ministry is progressing in their areas. Most of all, I am grateful that The Episcopal Church is alive and well in Taiwan, a beautiful country with kind people.
Special thanks to Peter Huang for his attention to detail and his kindness -- he exemplified the warmth of his country!
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