45 kilometers for ice-cream

Plus a side order of heat exhaustion…

Half-eaten green ice cream with chopped peanuts and cilantro, and frozen strawberries, in a black wrap.
Matcha ice-cream with strawberries, peanuts, and cilantro.

Over the past couple of months, converging evidence has suggested that Moose Peanut (迷路麋鹿), a ‘spring roll ice-cream’ shop in Qishan township, sells exceptionally good ice-cream.

The first clue was the YouTube video Americans Try Weird Food In Taiwan by Cole Fogle, which I saw in early-June.

The second clue came from a local friend, who one day mentioned he and his partner had just traveled three hours (return) for ice-cream. When he described peanuts in a black charcoal wrap, it sounded immediately familiar…

Then, clue number three came two weeks ago: the YouTube video He Experiences Something New After 20yrs In Taiwan by Get Up. Get Out. Get Gone.

Today, 45km from home, I also experienced something new:

A man standing in the shade outside Moose Peanut ice-cream shop, wearing a mask and sunglasses, and looking at his phone.
Quietly queueing in Qishan, expectations set to high.

I ordered a matcha ice-cream with strawberries, peanuts, and cilantro in a signature “bamboo charcoal spring roll skin” for NT$80 (NZ$4):

Moose Peanut’s Chinese name (迷路麋鹿) comprises two words with the same pronuncation (“milu milu”), directly translating to “lost moose”. Here’s their logo on a paper wrap around my strawberry matcha peanut ice-cream with cilantro…
Half-eaten green ice cream with chopped peanuts and cilantro, and frozen strawberries, in a black wrap.
…Which was an easy five stars.

Feeling satisfied with one ice-cream each (but also understanding why the YouTubers wanted two), my friend and I wandered down Qishan Old Street for a look.

It was 34ºC, sunny, and very humid at 12:20pm:

Qishan Old Street, with scooters parked in the foreground and three-story buildings lining either the side. The road is almost empty, with only one car visible in the distance.
Qishan Old Street is popular with weekend visitors, but it was quiet during the hottest part of Friday.
A two-story historic building covered on top by a metal roofing structure, which has been installed approximately three meters above the building’s roof.
The street has many historic buildings, including this one protected by a second roof…
A historic three-story brown brick-and-concrete corner building with four scooters parked outside. Cars are parked on the street to the right, and a delivery van on the street to the left.
…And this taller one on a corner.
Three drinking water machines on the side of the road. Each looks a little like a petrol bowser, with a rectangular smiling face on the top. The machines are coin-operated.
Elsewhere in the town, we saw these water dispensers which I hadn’t previously seen up close, and which I had—very wrongly—guessed were air compressors for scooter tires. (A misunderstanding that could’ve been awkward.) As I took this photo, my friend called out “she’s waiting!”. Immediately behind me there was an unimpressed lady on a scooter. (If I’m reading the signs correctly, the water costs NT$15 (NZ$0.75) for 20 liters.)

Around this time, my phone displayed a government warning that the “feels like” temperature would soon reach 38ºC. I was already overheating in my black shirt—moderately good at hiding sweat; not so good at keeping me cool—and suggested that we look for some shade.

Approaching a leafy neighborhood park, which may or may not have been part of an elementary school, I felt dizzy and looked for somewhere to sit while my friend wandered away to take slo-mo videos of butterflies.

I was sweating excessively. This was despite drinking the iced green tea I’d bought 10 minutes earlier, then stealing and drinking the one I’d bought for my friend.

Feeling progressively worse, I moved to a shaded bench where I could lie down before passing out.

A large green tree, viewed from below.
Waking up to a blurred memory of the previous 10 or 20 minutes, I reached for my phone and took this photo of what I saw above me. The timestamp is 1:17pm. At this point I was no longer sweating, and it felt like my body temperature was back to normal.
Five short granite benches around a tree, with a public toilet building (and security camera) a few meters away.
I’d been lying across two of these granite benches. (I’ve just realized the camera on the toilet block was pointing directly at me.)

Feeling okay, I got up off the granite. We walked to a 7-Eleven air-conditioned paradise we’d seen earlier on Qishan Old Street.

Half an hour and multiple bottles of ion water later, we got back on our scooters and started a cautious ride home:

A scooter parked beside a small shrine and a swing-bridge over a green lake, with a forest on the other side.
We detoured past Neimen Shunxian Temple, where there were turtles swimming beneath this suspension bridge…
Neimen Shunxian Temple on the far side of a green lake.
…Nice views of the temple…
Statues of four colorful dragons beside a lake, with water spraying out of their mouths.
…And dragons, impervious to heat exhaustion, spraying water into the lake.