Here’s an amazing picture from my uncle’s garden. I’m sure many of you have seen bananas growing before when you visit a tropical country – but normally you can see a few bunches perhaps numbered in the tens.
The photo above is from my uncle’s garden showing a banana palm tree he has which literally bears 1,000s of bananas. I’ve lived in Taiwan many years and been to other countries where they grow bananas like Cyprus and Madeira – however I’ve never seen anything like this!
In the picture the lower bananas are quite short and stubby, but some people like them this way. I’ll ask my uncle to send me an updated picture when/if he has time and more bananas are ripe.
Have you ever seen a banana palm tree like this? If you have any pictures of bigger bunches of bananas please link or share them below.
I’ve been to Taiwan this summer as readers will know. Now I’ve been back a couple of weeks but really miss a couple of fruits that are really hard to find in the UK. It’s a shame because it includes two of my favourite fruits.
I went to see my great-uncle one day and he runs a very small scale farm, you might call him a market gardener, with a smallish plot but a big variety of fruits and vegetables all together. Some of the fruits come from trees that have been established for many years but there are also things that need planting every year like the vegetables. In the picture above you can see the beautiful collection of vegetables I gathered that day.
Let’s move on to my favourite fruits, the ones I miss so much. The first is called the longan and it is a close relative to the lychee but grows wild in Taiwan. The name is pronounced “Long -yen” in Taiwan. Though Lychees are specially bred trees to produce this kind of fruit; the cultivation over the years has produced a fruit with a minimal ‘stone’ or ‘pip’, I find them to be unsettlingly fleshy and watery. Longan have a very large black stone in the middle and the layer of flesh is relatively small but it’s flavour is much better in my opinion!
I have found longan for sale in the UK on vegetable stalls in Markets which sell Thai food and ingredients. There is a season for these fruits and in the northern hemisphere it’s just about over now.
My second favourite fruit from Taiwan is the ‘shi jia’ which is pronounced “ser jia” and known by English speakers as the Custard Apple. This fruit seems to be a popular one in Australia but I’ve never seen it in the UK. However ‘custard apple’ is a pretty good description of the overall flavour of the fruit. To my tastebuds the best description would be “rice pudding with a teaspoon of apricot jam”. It’s really delicious and once it is ripe I will put one in the fridge to eat cold, picking up the flesh covered seeds with my chopsticks!
I’m surprised there aren’t so many ‘custard apple’ flavoulred drinks and desserts but I did find one I particularly liked in Hualien, in eastern Taiwan. Here you can buy shi jia ice cream. If you ever go to Taiwan’s east side I recommend you try and find some pots of this tasty ice cream. I bought some, very easily, when we stopped to fill up at a CPC petrol station.
The most accessible coast of Taiwan is on the West side of the island. This is the side of Taiwan where most people live. On the west the typical seaside is sandy and graduates slowly into the sea. Down the middle and towards the East of Taiwan a very large mountain range dominates the island. The east coast is characterised, in contrast to the West, by cliffs and boulders as the mountain range nears the sea.
Today I am sharing a few pictures of the West coast. I’ve found beautiful scenes of two places I visited a few years back. First of all I’ll start by the middle of Taiwan’s West coast.
You can see above quite an attractive scene. This is a picture taken from the shore near Lugang. The sea there gets ever so gradually deeper and the sea bed is very sandy. The local fishermen have constructed miles of what you see above. These structures are made to cultivate oyster growth and make them easy to harvest.
As the day became night I managed to take a great sunset shot which makes the sea have a gold appearance. Also you can see the tide has risen slightly to cover more of the Oyster nets.
Now lets go South. I often visit the lovely resort of Kenting National Park. Some people call this Taiwan’s Hawaii, but I think that is tretching the point… Nevertheless the area has great hotel, beaches and good nightlife as any good seaside resort should do.
I caught with my camera the last few jet-boat rides as the sun set that day. The clouds particularly enhanced the scene. If you go to Kenting the sea tides are quite strong as you face the open Pacific ocean. It’s advisable not to swim too far off shore and be vigilant even if you are a strong swimmer.
Here’s another shot of the same view as it got even darker and people reluctantly left the beach area. No problem, there’s lots of fun to be had in Kenting town with the lively night life and perpetual night markets!
In Taiwan there are many beautiful insects. There are also some no-so-glamorous ones, but I’m not going to talk about those here and now. I took some pictures of these insects below on a day trip one spring time a few years ago. We went to an old pottery on the outskirts of Nantou County. The place also had a special wildlife garden and pools full of plants and busy with flying and swimming insects as you can see.
In this first picture you can see a beautiful dragonfly. Its wings are hard to see, even in the big photo downloaded straight from my camera, they are almost transparent. It’s hard for viewers to judge the size of this insect from this picture but I can tell you the body of this insect is about 5 or 6cm long according to my memory.
Here’s another dragonfly from the same day. This shot is obviously taken by a pond, you can see the large discs of the waterlily leaves floating in the background. The dragonfly itself is resting on a water lily flower. This dragonfly is beautifully coloured, a very deep and stunning red, it’s a shame that the picture looks so small on this web page. The double wings on this insect are particularly eye catching, the overall look reminds me of a WW1 “red baron” fighter plane!
Here is another contrast. The butterfly I pictured in this photo is really rather plain in a pale leafy way. However this plainness really helps make a feature of the dual coloured flower upon which it is resting. Of course there’s lots more colourful and wonderful insects in Taiwan but that’s all for now on Taiwan Teapot!