Tern─ Watching Tour, Matsu

Today Corey and I are in Matsu, watching terns, a kind of seabird. They’re just a short boat ride away, on some rocks and deserted islands. Of the 36 islands in Matsu, only 5 are habited by people, which makes the rest summer retreats and nurseries for the terns. About eight different kinds of terns come back here every July and August.
There are lots of Greater Crested Terns this year. The fabled Chinese Crested Tern is somewhere among them. It takes some effort to spot them. What are those with the red feet? Those are the Roseate Terns. They’re constantly on the hunt for fish to feed their young. We’re at the mouth of the Min River, where fresh and sea water mix so there is a lot of plankton here, which attracts fish.
So every summer terns come Matsu to breed, eat tasty fish and go for nice cool dips in the ocean. Sounds like a good life. But we don’t have it so bad either. Next stop, wine tasting.
Matsu’s known for its “laojiu,” a traditionally homemade liquor from Fuzhou that is around 30 proof. It’s made with glutinous rice for its high sugar content and water and red yeast. You put it all together in a ceramic pot, mix it every two to three days for the first two weeks or so. Soon the water will turn into alcohol and start to separate from the rice. One month later, it’s ready to be filtered, sterilized and aged.
In addition to drinking, laojiu is often used in cooking.
For example, laojiu can be added to noodle soup to give it an extra punch and warmth. The by product of laojiu, red yeast and glutinous rice can be used to flavor fish and meats.
Matsu is mainly what I expected, but it had more differences in culture than I did expect. When you think of Taiwan, you think of everything being Taiwanese but really Matsu is a Matsu culture. Birdwatching - I’d never seen isolated bird flocks before so it was interesting to see birds where there is not tons of people around them. There were people taking pictures but it was more peaceful of an experience than I’m used to. I like birds, I like nature, so I enjoyed them.