let me tell you a story about the best dentist visit I ever had.
I really hate going to the dentist. or any kind of doctor, actually. even if there's nothing wrong with me I just get anxious about it. when we lived in Hsinchu, I managed to find a dentist who didn't completely terrify me. she was actually pretty great. so when we moved to Taipei, I decided I would go back down to keep seeing her, rather than go through the hassle [and torture] of trying to find someone new.
last fall, about the time I needed to make an appointment, I had a problem. I was indulging in my almost-nightly ritual snack of popcorn and wine when a kernel got stuck in my teeth. it hurt. really bad. I did my best to dig it out with floss and one of those tooth-picker things, but in the process I noticed a spot on my my molar that wasn't the right color. cue: cavity panic.
so I made an appointment and took the train down, fully expecting to be chastised then shot up with novocain and drilled. [we'll get to the mountains soon, I promise.] to try to combat what was sure to be an awful morning, I planned to meet up with a friend after my traumatizing experience. the last time I had a cavity filled they gave me gas to keep me calm [SO not exaggerating my anxiety about this, guys] so I wasn't sure what state I would be in. we didn't make any solid plans. at the least, I told her we could get coffee and she could laugh at me being all wacked out.
it turned out that my cavity wasn't a cavity. just an old filling that had started to darken. my dentist told me that if it really bothered me, she could drill it out and replace it. um, no thanks. so I left the dentist practically dancing with joy, and met my friend for a scoot. the weather was nice so we decided to celebrate my non-cavity by driving out to Wu Zhi Shan [Five Finger Mountain] about an hour outside of Hsinchu.
the further out of Hsinchu we went, the darker the sky became. we pulled over for emergency rain ponchos at 7-11 and not more than 10 minutes passed before we stopped again to put them on. everyone coming down the mountain towards us was drenched. my friend turned around.
"are you sure you want to keep going?"
the road was steep and her scooter doesn't have a very powerful motor. she warned me that I might have to get off and walk, that with the clouds so low we probably wouldn't have much of a view, but...
"we're already this far. I'm game if you are."
so we drove on. this is why we are friends.
when we reached the top we could see... pretty much zero view. but rain and views be damned, we were determined to have an adventure. besides, there were temples to explore. we found a stairway that led between buildings and up the mountain, to a temple that must have a stunning view on a clear day. it was part under construction, but the second level looked... well, maybe not open exactly, but not under construction.
"do you think we can climb up that stairway?"
"I don't see why not."
again, this is why we are friends.
clearly, someone else had been up there at one point for a smoke and a drink. and possibly to hang laundry to dry. we grabbed some quick shots and headed back. the rain really started coming down so we took shelter in a nearby pavilion. where I promptly stuck my face in a spiderweb while trying to take a photo.
next we wandered along a muddy hiking trail, until we discovered some really large dragons hanging out under a rainbow. [I'm pretty sure that Taiwan is the only reason why anyone has ever uttered that sentence. or maybe drugs.]
just one of the many completely random and cheesy reasons to love Taiwan.
it was getting later in the afternoon, and we wanted to get back before dark. so we started walking back towards where the scooter was parked. but then we stopped and looked across the way...
"one more temple?"
duh. this is why we are friends.
even with our last detour, we still made it to her apartment before dark. my legs were soaked from the rain so I borrowed her hair dryer to use on my pants. we stopped for ramen and fried rice before she dropped me off at the train station. I left for Taipei with only one regret: that I didn't take a selfie of us in our crazy rain ponchos with the rainbow dragons.
so here's to friends who love to adventure, and to what will probably be: my best dentist visit ever.