These days, whenever the winter cold and rain abates for a short while, beautiful, balmy weather draws everyone outside. At the weekends, the streets are full of couples, friends and families out to make the most of the sunshine.
We thought we were ahead of the game a Sunday or two ago when we arrived in Xindian around 4 o'clock, as part of a cunning plan to to have dinner by the riverside, then walk off the excess while enjoying the sunset. But the restaurants were already full of smarter people than us, and we were lucky to get a table.
The riverside at Bitan is a lovely place for an evening walk. Despite its popularity, it never feels too crowded, maybe due to the expansive view across the river to the green mountains beyond.
few times previously we've hired a pedalo and splashed around a bit, but this time we thought we would walk to Xiaobitan instead. Walking long distances isn't an activity for the faint-hearted once the weather turns warmer, so it's a good idea to take advantage of opportunities in winter.
But dinner came first. At the riverside restaurants in Bitan you pay for the view as well as your meal, but on the plus side menus often have choice items. My favourite discovery that day was organic beer and cider, which had been exported from the U.K. to the U.S., and then on to Taiwan.
Apricot ale is surprisingly pleasant - not too sweet, and slightly bitter.
Someone else enjoyed a banana chocolate milkshake.
I finally decided I'm becoming middle-aged, because it seems whenever we eat out these days I end up ordering salad and soup. Only this time I couldn't even finish those..
..mostly due to the nature of the soup.
Bread tends to be two sweet for Western tastes in Taiwan, but this was just right.
I was sadly too full to even try these lamb skewers and poppadoms, but reports confirm they were as good as they looked.
Our evening walk was just as enjoyable as our meal, and reduced guilty feelings about eating too much.