Renegade Writings

The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

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Taiwan

Abandoned Hotels Around Shimen Reservoir, Part 2

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

The Balcony, 12:08 am

I stand looking out over the seemingly sleeping city. There's a light breeze that makes it feel like the cold of the night air is creeping in through the gaps between my shirt buttons, and chill of the stone floor is seeping up through my socks. A new round of fireworks starts, I can hear the sharp cracks somewhere off to the right but they are hidden from view by the nearby buildings, all I can see is the colorful flashes of light on the surrounding facades. I stand there in the cold dark space of the balcony, the revelry and fireworks just on the edge of my consciousness, and feel that special kind of feeling that isn't quite loneliness but isn't really anything else either - clearing the mind from daily stresses and just absorbing the cool quite now, and yet, realizing somehow that you want to be where those unseen fireworks are. And that's the moment that I notice it, the fireworks are reflected on the windows of one of the buildings in the distance, the glass making the images ripple and become dreamy; a moment of beauty pierces my solitude and brings me back to reality. I listen to the fireworks for a few moments longer then let the cold drive me back indoors.

Unexpected Advice for Life in Taiwan

A little while back my son was born and I have some advice for parents in Taiwan. Considering that I’ve been a parent for less than six weeks you might wonder what credentials I have for giving out advice. The reason is that me and my wife messed up right at the beginning and I really wish someone given us this very piece of advice.

If you are a foreigner and you or your partner is going to give birth in Taiwan, chances are high you are going to apply for some kind of paperwork in your home country such … Read the rest

The Secret Beach in Yilan

October 10 is Taiwan’s national day and since it was a Thursday this year, most of the country got a four day weekend. My wife is pregnant and some pregnancy related medical conditions have kept her cooped up at home most of the time. As luck would have it, she was feeling well enough to go out that very weekend, so we decided to take a trip to Yilan in north east Taiwan.

The first day we drove from Hsinchu over to Yilan then spent the afternoon on the beach in Dongao Bay. It’s a beautiful beach with verdant … Read the rest

Dongao bay 4:12 pm

I thought I could go swimming but it's too dangerous. The beach slopes steeply down towards the water, and when a big wave comes sweeping in it's like a giant trough of water that empties then fills back up in matter of seconds. Though swimming is out of the question I still enjoy the feeling of waves washing over my feet, so I walk a few meters down the slope, let my feet get swallowed up by the pleasantly cool water while the afternoon sun warms my back. I hesitate for a moment, thinking about taking a few steps more, then another big wave comes rolling in and crashing onto the beach with tremendous force; white foam rushing forwards, the water rising from my knees to my chest in an instant, the force pushing me back at least a meter. Just as I recover my balance the water rushes out again, pulling at my legs, threatening to drag me with it. Behind it, a million little rocks come rolling down the beach, filling the air with a rattling, rushing noise against the background booming of the waves.

Dongmen Market, Day and Night

Near the center of Hsinchu City there is an old indoor market called Dongmen Market. It used to be a so called wet market where people would go to buy groceries, clothes and other everyday items. The place has been on the decline for a number of years with more and more of the little vendor stalls and shops closing down. Lately however, a lot of young people have been opening little restaurants, cafes and bars in the old vendor spaces. Most of these businesses are only open in the afternoons and evenings, so during the day the place is … Read the rest

Detention (返校) review

A while back I made a post about some Taiwanese movies worth seeing. The movies on that list were either good movies made by Taiwanese directors, or movies that give interesting insight into Taiwanese history and culture. Recently I saw another movie that would fit very well onto that list, Detention (返校 in Chinese).

The movie is based on the 2017 video game with the same name. Considering that most video game movies are mediocre at best, you might think that’s a bad sign…but you’d be wrong. The game itself is more of an interactive story than a normal … Read the rest

Buddha World part 3: the Last Castle

Last year we explored an old hotel in the abandoned amusement park temple (which I later found out is called Buddha World). When we went there we thought the hotel was the last unexplored building, but we spotted another castle-like structure out in the jungle. That time we weren’t able to go explore it so I had to make do with a couple of pictures taken from a distance.  This weekend we’ve finally taken the time to come back so I could take a closer look.

Yini didn’t feel like going into the building so I left her in the … Read the rest

8 Taiwanese films worth seeing…

…Especially if you are interested in Taiwan or Taiwanese culture.

Like I suspect most westerners do, I mostly watch Hollywood movies. Since moving here however, my wife has introduced me to several Taiwanese films that area really worth seeing, some simply because they are good movies and some because they give you some insight into Taiwanese culture that would be difficult for the average visitor to gain otherwise. For simplicity’s sake I will do this as a series of mini reviews where I tell you why I think a film is worth seeing. Now remember, I’m not a film critic, … Read the rest

Beehive Firecrackers

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

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