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
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.
The dreariness of my evening commute has been instantly dispelled by a marvelous sky. A pale blue background, bordering on yellow, richly strewn with tufts of cloud like pieces of cotton on a blue tablecloth. The clouds lie in shadow but are lit from underneath by the setting sun, painting them dark grey on one side and a brilliant hue of pinkish orange on the other. The contrasting colors make every little wisp of vapor stand out against the background, making the clouds seem bigger and fuller, while at the same accentuating the orange light, making it look as if the entire sky is filled with a brilliantly shining fire. It is little moments like this that make the drudgery of every day life bearable.
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
Whenever I’ve been out at the north-east coast of Taiwan, I’ve thought that the road along the coast is really nice for riding a motorbike. However, the times I’ve been there have always coincided with the time that plenty of other people have been there as well, that is, traffic has been too heavy for me to really enjoy the road. I figured the best remedy for this problem would be to go there in the early morning, probably around sunrise or so.
Now, I do enjoy going out together with my wife, and taking a ride through some beautiful … Read the rest
The rain is truly torrential now, large drops falling at a rapid pace. The road we’re on has turned into a veritable river; dead leaves and other debris from the surrounding jungle have been washed out onto the road and gotten caught on the edges of the many cracks in the asphalt, forming little islands here and there. The road is steep enough for a current to form, it keeps splitting and reconnecting as it flows around the little islands, even building up swells as it passes around some of the bigger ones. Separate streams flow down the ditches on … 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
Am I still in Thailand? It sure doesn’t seem like it with these surroundings. On both sides of the road are rolling hills, on the right they are covered in withering, brown corn stalks on the left, the dark green of pine forests, with brown, bare tea bushes in neat rows lower down in the valley. This high up, the sweltering heat of the lowlands is gone, the air is cool and crisp like an autumn day. If I didn’t know better I would think I’m somewhere in Europe.… Read the rest