Renegade Writings

The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

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. 

The Unfinished Story

Everyone remembers their first drop. The feeling when you're standing there on the tower, a hundred meters up, the wind whistling around you, even if it's calm down on the ground. You're too low for any parachute to deploy properly and too high for safety ropes to be effective; you have to rely on the Impact Protection Rig (Impro Rig for short) strapped to your back. Even knowing that thousands of drops are made safely every year, there's still that tiny grain of doubt at the back of your mind; what if the rig fails this time? You've practiced the motions hundreds of times at lower heights: make sure the ground below is clear, find a stable posture on the edge, grab the trigger handles tightly, take two deep breaths, then inhale and step off. Once you're in the air, exhale slowly and pull the handles. By now it's next to instinct, you can do it, the rig will work, all you have to do is drop. Read the rest... 

Art Under The Bridge

A couple of months ago I wrote about something I call neglected spaces. This weekend we found a place that isn’t actually neglected but has a lot of the same vibes. It’s a place called 大里溪橋下小人國 which roughly translates to Little People Country Under Dali Creek Bridge. It’s hidden away underneath country route 63, just at the end of the Dali river bridge. Most people will never even know it’s there, passing over it on their way somewhere else, and if they pass by on one of the small roads on the side of the bridge, it’s still unlikely they … Read the rest

Mountain Road 竹29, 3:57 pm

The road is narrow, barely more than a car’s breadth, nature closing in on both sides, a ribbon of cracked and broken asphalt zigzaging its way through the forest. In a car I’d be taking it slow here, but now I’m going as fast as I dare, leaning from corner to corner, fully focused on the road ahead. Shift down, counter steer, accelerate out of the corner, green trees whizzing by. Shift up for the straight, just a few seconds, patches of blue up above then eyes back to the tarmac, ease it down for the next corner. Just me, … Read the rest

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