Tropical Problems, Tropical Solutions

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My recent hiatus can be attributed to Dengue Fever and Hawaii, in that order.

The tropics of Taiwan boast a surprising number of colorful diseases, one of which is Dengue spread by mosquito bites. I had the luck to be bitten a week before I had scheduled my vacation time.

What happens to a Dengue victim? you may ask, and if you don’t want to know skip the next few paragraphs. First, you get a headache that won’t go away and aches in your joints, maybe a slight fever. Then if you go to the doctor they will check your blood for high white blood count and send you home with Tylenol for the pain. The treatment plan is practically nonexistent and no vaccine exists. For the next three days you might suffer fever and the clothes-drenching sweats that accompany it. I even had distorted vision while I stumbled around the apartment! The next few days after that you will probably be too weak to work and you will catch up on the sleep you didn’t get when you had the fever and headache. Then you get an itchy rash that looks all speckly and finally you are on the mend.

After this confusing tropical fever had passed I was still able to take my vacation and fly over to Honolulu to visit my family for American Thanksgiving.

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I highly recommend running away on a family vacation to Hawaii. It was wonderful basking in sunlight, going surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. While I haven’t mastered any of these I celebrated my opportunities and the kindness of the local Hawaiian people.

Perhaps the best exhibition of Hawaiian culture was a Jake Shimabukuro concert we attended and heard him performing with all his local friends. He is something of a ukulele rock god native to Hawaii.

My sister and I discovered that scuba instructors can offer more intelligent commentary than surf instructors. Although all of them were equally kind sharing their island with us.

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Fires of Dulan

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I am no surfer. The closest I came to that growing up in Montana was my sister’s two month fascination with skateboarding and bruising my tailbone in a skate park near our house.

Despite my lack of experience I jumped at the opportunity to take the train to visit the South African surfing hostel in Dulan, Taiwan. Friday evening we jumped the Kaohsiung express to Taitung arriving at one in the morning. The two hours on the train only allowed more time to enjoy libations and catching up with friends because Taiwan has no open container laws.

The local beverages of Taiwan include primarily beer, Kaoliang 高粱 a sorghum liquor and balida medicinal alcohol.  PAOLYTA is the balida brand necessary for these weekend excursions.

The trips to Dulan require surfing, beach bonfires and excessive drinking. The best places were food are the reasonable priced Vietnamese restaurant and newer Italian restaurant both on the main street. The local drinking stations include the 7Eleven and the Sugar Factory although the music happens early around 9 or 10 so get there before 11 or you will miss out.

If you find yourself in this part of the world don’t be surprised by the kindness of strangers. Don’t be surprised by the quantity of beer consumed. Don’t be surprised to be walking home from an all night beach party at five in the morning.everyonenight