Renegade Writings

The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Baby’s First Adventure

A couple of weeks ago I was out with the motorcycle in the mountains and rediscovered a trail that we tried to hike many years ago but never finished because part of it had collapsed, then forgot about. From what I could see it seemed to be in good shape, so last weekend we decided to give it another go…this time with the baby.

It’s actually not much of a trail, only a few hundred meters long, but it leads to a waterfall which in my opinion makes it a worthwhile hike. The place isn’t particularly popular and it’s a … Read the rest

Guyan Waterfall, 4:03 pm

I stand just meters from the fall looking up at it. It is tall and narrow, the stream of water tumbling down a near vertical cliff, hitting little protrusions in the cliff face on the way down, sending a fine mist into the air. The mist catches the rays of the sun, forming a permanent rainbow that hovers in the air just above the the shallow little pool at the fall's base. The little gully where I stand lies in the shadow of the cliffs above and the air is filled with the rushing of the water. Outside, the landscape is bathed in sunlight, all green and bright and swelteringly hot, but here it's cool and calm with the soothing sounds of the water drowning out all other noise. As I stand there admiring the view, the excitement of successfully scrambling my way up the lower falls to this place slowly dissipates and I feel a calm settle over me. It's as if my mind has been emptied of all worries and negative feelings and I simply feel happy.

Fictionalizing the News No. 14: The Bee Killer

He took a few deep breaths to calm himself down, and as soon as the immediate rage had subsided he started pacing back and fourth in the kitchen, thinking things over in what he considered to be a more rational manner...read the rest

Climbing Teapot Mountain (茶壺山)

Last year I found out about an interesting hiking trail at Teapot Mountain (茶壺山) in north east Taiwan. I tried to do it back then but due to bad planning I had to turn around before I was able to finish the whole thing. Last weekend I decided to give it another try and this time I would plan it better. Teapot mountain is near Jiufen which is a nice place but it easily gets crowded in the weekends. In order not to spend too much time searching for a parking spot and then having to walk a long distance … Read the rest

Teapot Mountain, 11:26 am

The trail is close to vertical, a narrow trench of bare gray rock leading up towards the summit, the sides of the cliff forming a sharp V-shape against the sky. The bottom of the trench is uneven, forming footholds here and there, and two thick, knotted ropes run down the sides for you to hold on to. I'm standing halfway up, waiting for the person in front of me to get around a particularly difficult section, thinking to take a photo but I realize this is not the time. My position is too precarious, swinging the pack off my back to retrieve the camera might throw me off balance, and besides I have people waiting below me. Instead I spend a few moments just taking in the strange feeling of standing here: the urge to continue moving upward, to keep pushing towards the end of the trail, mixed with the very real sense of danger in standing at this very spot, and the thrill that it brings. Normally I would wax poetic about the beauty of the surrounding landscape, but right here and now, that's it, nothing more.

Making a DIY Knife

When I was in Japan a a year or two back I bought a kit for making your own folding knife from the big DIY department store Tokyu Hands. Since then I’ve been too busy with other stuff but now I finally had time to assemble it and I thought it might be fun to show how I made it.

The kit consists of two handle parts, a blade, two sets of screws, four washers, a stop pin, two pieces of sand paper, a small tool and the instructions manual. They come in different versions but I got the one … Read the rest

Fictionalizing the News No. 13: The Asylum Seeker

Hamid and Babak were seated at the small table in their shared room at the refugee center. Officially it was an 'initial reception center for asylum seekers' but no one – neither the Germans nor the people living there - called it that; to Hamid and Babak it was just ' the barracks'. They were playing cards as usual, there wasn't much else to do other than watch TV in the common room or go into town. The former meant being stuck with German TV channels and neither of them spoke enough German to enjoy it, and the latter required money which they didn't have. So they were stuck playing cards...read the rest

Abandoned Hotels Around Shimen Reservoir, Part 2

Over a year ago me, my wife and my friend went to Shimen Reservoir outside Taoyuan City to explore a few abandoned hotels, which you can read about here. There are a couple more abandoned hotels in the area which we were planning to visit but for whatever reason we never did. Recently I've had the feeling that I really should go do it, so last weekend I decided it was time. While my wife stayed home to take care of our baby (thanks honey), I packed my flashlight and camera then set off on the motorbike...read the rest

Chang Gung Hospital, 8:45 am

Only one of the doors is open, the rest have been blocked, and a line of people are moving through it at slow but steady pace. Just inside, in the space between the two sets of doors, is a table with a line of automatic disinfectant dispensers. One by one the people in the queue get a squirt of disinfectant, a faint smell of alcohol rising into the air, and rub their hands together. They pass by a temperature check station, an IR camera on a tripod hooked to a computer, and into the entrance hall of the hospital. Inside they are met with a row of folding tables, set up like a temporary barrier. Each table holds a computer and behind it sits a nurse in purple gown, pink hair net, surgical mask and transparent face shield. The people spread out between these checking stations, handing over their ID cards as if they were at the passport control at the airport. Those who pass the ID check get a red stamp on their hands, almost like a nightclub though far less lighthearted, and are finally let through. I myself get the admittance stamp and can enter the hospital to do what I came for, I can only speculate about what happens to the ones who don't get it.

Yangmei Station 7:53 am

The train doors open and the cold rushes in. With my seat right next to opposite door, almost straight in the path of the freezing wind, the cold hits me head on, washes over me from my feet all the way up to my head, clinging to me like a wet blanket. It's that special kind of cold that you only get in subtropical regions, that dampness the creeps in through your clothing and chills you through and through like nothing else can. Even the raw, biting cold of Sweden's frozen north doesn't feel as uncomfortable as this.

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