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
Despite the name, this isn't actually a road. It's more like a hiking trail that's possible to ride with a motorcycle...Well, barely, the trail is so narrow the plants growing along the sides keep whipping my legs as I go along, and the ground is treacherous with patches of loose gravel interspersed with large rocks. I go bumping and skidding down the trail as it winds its way through the forest, my eyes focused on the ground in front of me, my mind fully concentrated on riding, my muscles almost vibrating as I'm constantly adjusting my course. I would like to go slow but I find it's easier to navigate this terrain if I keep the speed up, so I go fast as I dare, the forest flowing past me within arm's reach; it's simultaneously scary and exhilarating. Right here, right now, this is the feeling of adventure I always long for.
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
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
Shimen Reservoir is a big man-made lake in the mountains outside Taoyuan City. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and nowadays there are more than ten distinct tourist attractions in the area. As everyone knows, with tourists come business opportunities, and a number of hotels, restaurants and cafés have sprung up along the lake shore. In the past it was common for visitors to stay overnight but as transportation improved, especially with the construction on the No. 3 highway, the market for hotels has gone down. As a … Read the rest
It's not a proper thunder shower yet, but the rain is still pretty heavy, big drops pelting me as I go along. Speed always amplifies the force of the drops, normally it starts to feel painful when you go above 60 kph and now I'm already doing a little over 90; every single drop hitting my chest or legs stings like a bullet from a BB gun - it's like riding through a barrage of machine gun fire. As if the pain wasn't enough, the thin rain jacket is woefully inadequate, I can feel myself becoming wetter with every second. For whatever reason - maybe it's because I've recently been reading a Finnish World War 2 novel - I react to the deep feeling of misery by repeatedly swearing in Finnish: Saatana Perkele, Saatana Perkele
About two years ago Renegade Wife and I visited an old amusement park that had been turned into a Buddhist temple. There were some parts of the park that we didn’t have time to visit and I’ve always wanted to go back. Last weekend we finally took the time to go there again. Because it’s been a while since I took the motorbike out I decided it would be a good day to go for a ride. However, it was a bit cloudy so we packed some rain gear and a couple of umbrellas just in case.
It was … Read the rest
A while ago my Google Maps expert wife found a place called Giant’s Hand which she though I would be interested in. Last weekend we decided to go check it out. The place is an abandoned amusement park, or rather, what little remains of it, which lies in the very north end of Taizhong, not far from Zhuolan township in Miaoli county. It’s not very well know and kind of hard to get to, but worth the trip in my opinion. You can actually find it on Google maps but don’t count on the navigation to get you there … 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