Most tourists don’t visit or stay long in Makassar and that’s what makes it interesting to us. We hired a rickshaw to visit a fish market and “traditional harbor” in Makassar and got dropped off by the harbor. We slowly picked our way around puddles and trucks and came upon a tiled area covered in blue tarp with a god-awful stench emanating from it.
There were boys and men everywhere, and as soon as we started walking around, the attention was on us. It was a reminder that once again, we are in an area in this country that sees few tourists, which means we are a fun spectacle for the locals. Hawkers beckoned us over to take photos of them and their fish, and guys jostled each other as they approached us in turns and asked us where we were from before turning around to their buddies and letting them know very loudly where we hailed from.
We felt perfectly safe but we don’t like to be the center of attention for too long in unfamiliar places (just in case), so we didn’t stay long. It was still an unexpectedly cool experience. The harbor wasn’t as interesting but we got to see some pretty big old school wooden boats being loaded and unloaded.
We woke up to a drizzling, cloudy day and made our way by train and bus to Jiufen and Jinguashi with our private tour guide, Chienya. My cold was now full-blown and my stomach was in protest, but sometimes you just have to suck it up (quite literally, with my relentless runny nose). A bus weaved its way up a mountain side before depositing us at the entrance to Jiufen, and this is where Simon found us. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and he had driven up to spend the day with us.
Like usual, food was on our mind and Chienya had told us that Jiufen was famous for their fish balls and taro mochi. But first, an amuse bouche. We opted for a sweet snack of two types of ice cream over crushed candied peanuts and chopped cilantro, wrapped in a crepe-like wrap. It was surprisingly good, and I loves me some cilantro so I didn’t mind it with ice cream.
Next, we ducked into a fish ball shop and pigged out on fish balls of different flavors, and a glutinous pork thing that they’re also supposedly famous for. It was good, and if I was feeling better I would’ve had seconds.
There’s not much to do on a rainy day, so off we went in search of a snack and wound our way up to a taro mochi shop. We walked through a corridor full of people making taro mochi and sat down for warm, sweet mochi balls and steamed cubes of sweet potato over shaved ice. I’m not a huge dessert person but it was pretty refreshing.
We had our foodie friend with us from New York, and we were missing out on some serious eating in Croatia. With Zagreb being disappointing food-wise and the Plitvice Lakes area offerings being not that much better, the three of us made our way to the coastal town of Split for fresh seafood. This being the Dalmatian coast, we arrived in the city and immediately spotted a Japanese tour group cross the street in front of us and cruise ships docked in the distance. Palm trees lined the main promenade, and people sat outside sipping coffees and cocktails. How did we end up in Miami?
Being the hungry hippos that we are, we dropped off our bags at the apartment and immediately made our way to our first traditional Croatian tavern experience at Konoba Hvaranin. We’ve long stopped trusting any reviews on Tripadvisor, and instead found a review on Foodie International of a konoba recommended by locals so we put our faith in this girl. We were glad we did. After taking sufficient food porn photos, we dug into fresh pasta with clams, grilled shrimp and grilled baby squid with ink sacs inside.
After dinner, we took a walk around the Old Town to digest and more importantly, to have a nightcap. Split used to be Emperor Diocletian’s summer palace. I don’t know anything about him, except that he was the only Roman Emperor to retire and he hated Christians. We walked through the narrow, maze-like streets and finally found Ghetto Club, which was the only gay-friendly bar in Split I was able to find on the internet. Unlike what you would probably imagine from the unfortunate name, it’s a nice, spacious place. We had the whole place to ourselves, but I can imagine this place must be pretty busy in the summer months.