Every couple of weeks I have a Saturday or Sunday afternoon off to relax by myself without having to worry about my son (my wife gets the same deal). Lately I’ve been trying to turn these afternoons off into little adventures by finding hiking trails that are reasonably challenging yet short enough that you can finish them in a couple of hours. As a busy dad, I find that this kind of hike is a perfect way for me to clear my mind and make my body comfortably tired. So far I’ve been on two such mini adventures
The Xianshan … Read the rest
The thing about Taiwan’s countryside is, like Forrest Gump said, like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get. Last weekend we went up in the mountains outside Hsinchu without any real plan. As we were driving along a small, rather remote road we rounded a corner and came upon a bunch of large, colorful paintings on the concrete wall next to the road. This was utterly unexpected. This was deep enough into the mountains that you’d expect to see little more than vegetation and waterfalls, yet here was some extremely colorful art. This of course fit … Read the rest
Like the name suggests, Five Finger Mountain (五指山) has five peaks in a row, like fingers on a hand. Me and the wife were there several years ago but at the time I wasn’t really into hiking so we only hiked the relatively easy Traverse Trail (called crabwise trail on some maps), never reaching any of the peaks. In the last couple of years however I’ve taken more of an interest in hiking so when my friend posted about it on The Map Room I became intrigued; it seemed like a fun hike that would be suitable for me. Due … Read the rest
There is no trail! All there is, is a narrow ledge, barely wide enough for one person. To the left, a near vertical wall of rock, greenery spilling over the edge up above; to the right, a steep drop down to the swiftly flowing turquoise water, swirling and frothing as it passes over and around some big boulders in the stream, the sound of rushing water filling the air. A thin rope, attached at intervals to the rock, trails along the cliff side; no way of knowing how well it will hold. I grab on to it more for psychological support than actual safety. I don't want to stumble here, focus on placing my feet; step by step by step until the ledge widens. I can relax again and take in my surroundings; the gently rolling green of the opposite bank, the afternoon sun coming in at an angle, painting golden highlights on the tree tops. I stop briefly to snap a quick photo that doesn't quite capture the feeling, then continue onwards.
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
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 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
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 couple of weeks ago I was studying the map and found a route just outside Hsinchu that looked like it would be fun to ride on the motorbike. Renegade wife and I attempted to do it that weekend but got caught in some heavy rain and had to turn back. This weekend we decided to try again. For those interested, the rout consists of a series of small roads that connect two of the main mountain roads near Hsinchu, you can can see the map below for details.
The ride out of the city is rather boring but once … Read the rest