Before becoming a parent I thought having a small child would mean being stuck at home most of the time. Recently I’ve found more and more that while there are some limitations, it is possible to go out and do fun things. Granted you have to make some adjustments to what you are doing and where you are going but still, you can go on little mini adventures. For instance me and my wife used to really enjoy taking the motorbike up into the mountains then go hiking to some semi-remote waterfall. We can’t go by motorbike anymore, but if … Read the rest
My favorite Taiwanese film is The Great Buddha + , and in it there is a scene where the main characters go to pray in a temple dedicated to former Taiwanese dictator Chiang Kai-shek. Apparently the scene was filmed in a real temple which has been (mostly) abandoned. Knowing that I like this kind of place, my wife found out where it is (thank you honey) and last weekend we decided to go check it out.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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