I've left some unfinished business the last time I went to 硬漢嶺 Yinghanling ("Tough Man Peak"). This time, bringing both a friend and nice weather, the stage is set to finish the hike to Bali and Tamsui.
Starting from 凌雲禪寺 Lingyun Temple, we quickly reach the top after a short walk, including much complaining about the number of stairs. It feels almost too easy being treated with gorgeous views down to Tamsui for such little effort. After taking some pictures, we start going down the other side of the mountain. We both enjoy the more exciting trail down to Bali, utilising the ropes as we descend happily through the woods down to the road. From here it's a pleasant walk past fields of orange trees down to the Tamsui River.
After coffee and brunch at , we stroll through the food market, and my friend makes me try a few local dishes. Understandably, everyone wants to showcase their country's cuisine, but there's often a hint of Fear Factor attached to this suggestion in Chinese countries: “I'm sure you won't like this.” or “I don't think you can eat that.” Wink wink smile.
There seem to be only two types of people: those who love the infamous 臭豆腐 stinky tofu and those who despise it. I had the fried (black) version (I think it's called Hunan or Changsha style) in Beijing many years ago and found its taste quite ok. I guess you can eat anything if you add enough chilli sauce to it. The fried type is also considered less pungent than the steamed version I've tried in Taiwan before and found slightly nauseating.
The stall we try in Bali sells a fried kind of 臭豆腐 that has a lighter colour than the one I've had in Beijing, and the owner serves mine with loads of both Korean and Taiwanese kimchi. My friend waits for me to try it, her eyes growing big in anticipation. To both our surprise, I find it very delicious. I'm a big fan of kimchi, maybe this helps.
When we practice talking about food in my Chinese class a few weeks later, I earn nothing but disbelief and incredulous looks that I find 臭豆腐很好吃 stinky tofu very delicious. Everyone else, including our teacher, is firmly in the “haters” category.
I, on the other hand, have found two additional reasons to come back to Bali: eat more stinky tofu and hike up Yinghanling from the opposite side next time.