Renegade Writings

The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Taigang Hotspring trail, 4:19 pm

There is no trail! All there is, is a narrow ledge, barely wide enough for one person. To the left, a near vertical wall of rock, greenery spilling over the edge up above; to the right, a steep drop down to the swiftly flowing turquoise water, swirling and frothing as it passes over and around some big boulders in the stream, the sound of rushing water filling the air. A thin rope, attached at intervals to the rock, trails along the cliff side; no way of knowing how well it will hold. I grab on to it more for psychological support than actual safety. I don't want to stumble here, focus on placing my feet; step by step by step until the ledge widens. I can relax again and take in my surroundings; the gently rolling green of the opposite bank, the afternoon sun coming in at an angle, painting golden highlights on the tree tops. I stop briefly to snap a quick photo that doesn't quite capture the feeling, then continue onwards.

Taigang Hotspring trail, 1:50 pm

The trail is narrow, just wide enough for one person, with thick green stalks of bamboo growing along the edges. It creeps along the hillside, following the windings of the river some twenty meters below. The path is shaded, with patches of light where the sun reaches in through the sparse forest. A soft breeze rustles the leaves and keeps away the worst of the fierce mid day heat.

Angels!

”Angels! They're real!” the old man slurred, his face inches from mine, his breath stinking of alcohol. ”Is that so,” I replied in a flat voice, turning away to avoid the stench. ” 'as right, as real as you or me,” the man said matter-of-factly, ”but they're not what you think they are.” ”Uh-hu,” I mumbled, taking a swig of my beer. ”Just ignore him,” Miriam hissed beside me. ”God and The Devil are real too,” the man continued, seemingly oblivious to my disinterest, ”but their roles are reversed.” 
”What do you mean?”  Continue reading

The Neglected Temple

I’ve previously written about what I like to call neglected spaces, those places that are not fully abandoned but rarely see any use. An interesting example of such a place is the Putian Temple which sits on a hill overlooking Hsinchu City. The temple itself is in use and seems to have a fair amount of visitors. However, on the hillside below it it is a semi-abandoned park full of weird statues, that becomes more overgrown and dilapidated the further you get from the main building. Actually the temple itself is pretty weird as well. Instead of trying (and … Read the rest

Shangshan Cafe, 4:41 pm

What my eyes see as fairy-tale-esque, the camera screen shows as flat. Three verdant mountains rising up in my left, one behind the other, their sides dotted with clusters of white tong flowers. The mists swirl around their peaks, alternately revealing the greenery for a moment then hiding it again. In front and to the right the valley opens up, lighter greens and more white flowers, another mist shrouded mountain in the distance. I take a sip of my tea then pick up the camera again, readjust the settings and put my eye to the viewfinder. Let's see if I can capture that magical atmosphere this time.

The Trail Under The Highway

I’ve previously written about two parks that are underneath major roads in Taiwan; the semi-abandoned Wuri Tank Park and the strange art exhibition/miniature world under the Dali Creek Bridge. Last weekend my wife found another similar place called Shalu Leisure Landscape Trail (沙鹿休閒景觀步道 in Chinese). For some reason, this one also happens to be in Taizhong city; perhaps the citizens of Taizhong really like to utilize the available space.

Like the name suggests, this is a hiking trail, or rather a strolling trail, because to be honest it’s far too flat for any actual hiking. It’s roughly two … Read the rest

Dakeng Trail No. 9, 10:48 am

oise, vendors announcing their prices, groups of hikers talking to each other, old men listening to music on speakers rather than headphones. This is not what you expect when heading out hiking. A few other people, sure, but not an entire horde of merrymakers. That whole thing of going out in nature and getting away from the stress of city life is pretty meaningless here. I turn and head up trail number nine, hoping the crowds will thin out...

City Center Tunnels

In Hsinchu City, not far from the very center, is a hill somewhat ambitiously called 18 Peaks Mountain. As you might guess, it’s not much of a mountain but local people like to go there for “hiking“ and jogging. The main entrance is big with several parking lots nearby but there is also a second entrance on the backside. Actually there are two entrances on the backside, the nice new one and the dilapidated old one. Last weekend I took my son out for some toddler friendly hiking and figured it could be fun to try the backside entrance. … Read the rest

Minimalism

A while ago I stumbled on a YouTube video about a guy called Rob Greenfield who, at the time of recording, was living his life with only 47 possessions. I find the concept quite fascinating and I generally agree with the anti-consumerist sentiment but I find that the video lacks something. Rob admits in the video that his lifestyle is extreme and he makes sure to point out that he’s not advocating for other people to live like he does. However, he fails to explain how it’s possible for him to be so extremely minimalist.

Now I can of course … Read the rest

The Office, 9:57 pm

stripe repeating over and over. The beige floor and white tiles in the ceiling, florescent tube lights at regular intervals. Off to my left are the offices of the managers, frosted glass in aluminum frames separating them from the rest of us. The managers have all gone home, their rooms are dark and empty. I'm all alone here. I know there are people in the assembly hall and warehouse but they might as well not exist. There's always some noise in the office, a phone conference in one corner; someone walking by with a cup of coffee, a couple people chatting at their desks, the clatter of people typing emails; but now it's completely quiet save for the ambient hum from the server room. Half of the ceiling lights are off, my section still has light but the far ends of the room are enveloped in shadow. It feels so bizarre to be here, like I'm in an abandoned building but I know it's not. Like the daily routine has been put on pause and I'm here like an outside observer, seeing what's left behind when the workers leave. 

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