Before I tell about my experience, here is little bit of background. In the 19th century the town of Yanshui was suffering from a cholera outbreak. Locals called on Guan Gong, the god of war, to ward off the decease. The god agreed to help but said he had to be greeted by fireworks, so people organized large amounts of bottle rockets to be fired off. Apparently it worked (some say the sulfur in the fireworks killed the bacteria) so the town has made it a tradition to set off masses of fireworks on the 14th and 15th days of … Read the rest
Last year I went to Tainan to participate in the Yanshui fireworks festival. Unfortunately I had misunderstood the schedule and managed to miss the whole thing. This year I was determined to join so I planned it better, double checking the schedule several times.
The festival was going to start on Monday with the main celebration Tuesday night until Wednesday morning. I originally planned that I and Renegade Wife could ride my motorcycle together over the weekend ending up in Tainan, so we could see the fireworks. Sadly my wife’s aunt passed away during the Chinese New Year so we … Read the rest
My company has sent me on a business trip to Milano. While I haven’t taken any time off for traveling like I did last time I came here for business, I’ve spent what little free time I have exploring as much as I can of northern Italy.
Last time I was in Milano I crossed the main tourist spots off the list. This time I was here with a different colleague so I ended up revisiting a few of them, and adding a few others.
The Milan cathedral, or Duomo as it is known in Italian, is of course … Read the rest
Last weekend, Yini and I planned to go see the famous beehive fireworks that kick off the lantern festival each year in Yanshui. We failed to actually see the fireworks but went to Chiayi and Tainan all the same. What happened was that I checked the date for the beehive fireworks and saw that it would be this weekend so we figured we could go see the fireworks on Saturday evening. What I failed to pay attention to was the fact that the main event was on Friday evening and that the whole thing ended early Saturday morning. I only … Read the rest
A couple of Taiwan’s major country roads (road number marked by a blue shield) go through the mountains. Last year, Renegade Wife and I rode across the island on one of them, number 14 – often referred to as the Central Cross-Island Highway – and despite some rather miserable weather, it was a fun little adventure. There are a few more that look very tempting to a motorcyclist studying a map of the country and as it happens, they are connected in a big loop. With Tomb Sweeping day extending the weekend to four days, and the weather finally becoming … Read the rest
The road follows a mountain ridge, not far from the top, dipping and curving with the contours of the mountains. We are just past the peak, descending into the valley. Though the slope is gentle, it’s enough to keep us rolling, and despite the thin air, I no longer need to fight to keep the bike moving. As the road straightens out a bit, I dare cast a glance to the left and the whole landscape opens up. Beyond the barrier at the edge of the road, the mountain side slopes steeply downwards to the valley below, then rises skywards … Read the rest
It’s as if the road has been glued to the mountain side, a narrow strip of asphalt winding its way upwards along the steep slopes. To the right, a low barrier that keeps motorists from careening over the edge and beyond that the ground falls away sharply. The road follows the curve of the river below, the clear blue water cutting a perfect U through the pine clad landscape, and the banks strewn with grey boulders. It’s a picture perfect landscape, almost like driving through a Bob Ross painting.… Read the rest
I’ve been at home for a while now and had time to reflect a bit about the trip and the countries I visited.
Though the region is called Indochina (from the two main cultural influences on the region), it’s much less homogeneous than you might think at first glance. Geographically they are of course very similar with jungles and mountains and very similar climates. The difference lies in the people and culture. In my experience Laos and Cambodia are very similar and Thailand, though more developed, is culturally close to them as well. Vietnam sticks out as very different from the other … Read the rest
I’m back home and I’ve had a fantastic trip! I’ve actually been at home for a few days now but I haven’t posted anything until now because it’s taken a few days to unpack my stuff and sort through all my photos. Now I’m done with all that and it’s time to write the last post.
Before I sum up my trip however, I want to do a little bit of promotion:
The people I stayed with in Mae Hong Son were so nice and so hospitable I think they deserve a special recommendation. If you (or anyone you know) are … Read the rest
I didn’t really have a plan for what to do for new years but I got a few ideas from my guides at the elephant camp. Since new years eve happened to be on a Saturday there was a night market in town, so I went there to start my evening with some street food. It’s a huge market, and it was very crowded but I did find some tasty food.
Someone told me there would be activities at the various temples, and there were, but they seemed to be mostly for worshipers. I skipped that and … Read the rest