“Vacation”

Back early from my “vacation.” Anything involving travel in Taiwan should include ” ” when it’s typhoon season. Still, considering how inexpensive this sort of thing is here, I’m not TOO disappointed. I managed to get a full day of beach walking, exploring town and peeking in on Taroko Gorge. I was feeling really touristy; I wanted to do a day tour including Taroko but got up half an hour before the tour leaves. I am *not* a morning person. Well, I AM, but I don’t like to rush, especially not on vacation. I want to have breakfast, read a book, meditate and then go do stuff. I decided I’d roll the dice; I knew the typhoon might or might not head our way but decided to do what I’d intended and tour the next day.

Well I still had a great time; I missed out on:

  • Standing on the Tropic of Cancer. As a Geography Nerd, this would have been an accomplishment. One foot in the tropics, another in the temperate zone. Maybe half of me would have been showered by the typhoon and the other half calm? No wait, those are just my bipolar emotions…
  • Sixty Stone Mountain (六十石山). During a select few months of the year (ending in October, of course) when the day lilies are in bloom, this and a couple of other mountains in Southeastern Taiwan become covered in bright yellow and orange day lilies. I was hoping to go and take some shots of this beautiful place, but did not have time to arrange travel.
  • Taroko Gorge. I got to walk the Shakadang Trail; Taroko is surprisingly inexpensive and easy to get to, considering how popular this hiking area is. Having been to many cities and countries, I can safely say Taiwan is not too touristy for all its natural beauty and culture. A pleasurable short walk, though the plant life along the river gorge obscured all of the perfect photo opportunities. From the perspective of a Park Naturalist, I was happy to see it was well managed and discourages people from moving off the path. From the perspective of a tourist and photographer: damnit, I wanted to stand in that gorge and shoot! Still, I did manage to get this and this. Next time I hope to visit the Eternal Spring shrine. A memorial to the workers who perished carving the trails through the area.

It was my first time leaving Taipei since I’d arrived 5 months ago, in fact, so I wish I could have stayed out longer. There was more but I did do enough (and spent $NT500 at a couple of nice restaurants). Right now I am waiting for my new Macbook Retina Pro, which should be arriving in an hour and a half. Taiwan’s postal service is a joy. At least in Taipei; I’ve had two things delivered from the US so far and each time they send email updates and instructions in English, have people to tell me how to do the customs forms and I can even change the delivery time or location. Hospital visits I can arrange online, also in English. I can pick up my train tickets at the 7-11 outside my doorstep. I get free wifi downtown. I’d read Taipei is built around “convenience,” but it’s really hard to appreciate until you get here. Especially considering how inexpensive said convenience is. Currently my main issue is not having to practice my Mandarin because everyone speaks English at least a little, haha. I don’t have to struggle…

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