touring Taroko: biking to Baiyang

Taroko Gorge is possibly my favorite place in all of Taiwan. earlier this month I visited Taroko for the fourth time. [with all that there is to see in Taiwan, I'm sure that goes a way towards explaining how much I love this place.]

this time around, my sister-in-law was traveling with us. she loves to bike and we decided to rent some wheels from our hotel and explore. we had unintentionally booked our stay during the weekend of the Taroko Marathon, so the road was closed from Tianxiang to the park entrance. this meant that we had to head further west into the park, but also that fewer cars were out on the road.

we pedaled uphill for a few kilometers, stopping often to rest and take in the views. I'm not really an avid cyclist and it was pretty tough for me. soon we decided the road was getting just a bit too steep [and there were too many hairpin turns that cars might appear around] and opted to coast back down toward the hotel.

note: it's been about a decade since I coasted down a hill on a bike, and I forgot just how fun it is. I'd definitely recommend trying a bike up the road [if you think your legs can handle it.] it was a great way to see some new views, away from the tour bus crowds.

on our coast back down, we decided to make a stop at one of my favorite hiking trails.

due to its proximity to Hualien [one of Taiwan's most common earthquake epicenters] and the summer typhoons that always roll through the island, every visit to Taroko has been a little bit different. when I visited in spring of 2014, my friend and I discovered the Baiyang Waterfall Trail. and I promptly fell in love.

this time [early November 2015] the Baiyang Trail was only open for the first kilometer or so. it's always a challenge to find information on trail closures. not to mention accurate, up-to-date, and in English. despite the closure of the main portion of the trail, we managed to do some awesome exploring right down in the gorge.

this was technically not part of the trail. but it seems like some of the rules in Taiwan are more like suggested guidelines... and we spotted a family having a picnic down by the river so we figured it would be safe enough.

being able to get down in the gorge and see the rock formations up close was a nice consolation to missing out on the waterfall. I'm not a geology expert, but the layers in the rock are fascinating. it's also crazy to see so much marble in one place. the boulders here were smaller, maybe the size of cars, but elsewhere in the gorge they are as large as houses!

we hiked the trail for as far as we could. despite our earlier trek off the beaten path, we weren't about to mess with three rolls of caution tape and a hundred red flags. [this was actually the third time that day we were foiled by a closed trail. thanks, typhoon season.]

it was disappointing not to make it to the end of the trail. but I imagine that keeping this park and all the trails in working order is no small task. plus - I've hiked Baiyang before and I'll hopefully hike it again. the Baiyang Trail is still one of my favorites. and I would still recommend this trail to visitors, which is supposedly reopening by the end of the year.

until next time, Taroko, stay gorgeous.


Dunedin, the charmer

I can't really say much about the charming little town of Dunedin, New Zealand that these pictures won't show you. [and I'm also trying to ease back into this blogging thing.]

so for once, I'm going to let the photos do the talking.

and if you're interested in more details about how we spent our time in Dunedin... you can check out our detailed New Zealand itinerary.


the expat holiday blues

I think the best indication of how I've been feeling lately is this: it's been over a week since I last posted to instagram.

having visitors is wonderful in a lot of ways. you have the chance to show off your city, and it gives you a great excuse to go out and discover new things. but sometimes having a familiar face around [and then having that face leave] can bring on a wave of homesickness. factor in all the upsetting things going on in the world lately, struggling with my book manuscript, and it being Thanksgiving week - and you've got yourself a case of the expat holiday blues.

it happens every year about this time. somehow it always surprises me. and it always feels like the current year is the worst, and maybe the last year wasn't so bad. [even though you said the same thing last year.] 

this year my coping strategy started with falling off the face of the internet for a while. Husband cheered me up by baking cookies, helping me hang some artwork, and taking me out to buy a new Christmas tree. I'm a pretty strict "not until after Thanksgiving" person, but this year we might make an exception. [if only by a few days.]

I'm also trying to take better care of myself. since there were exactly 30 days until our departure for Singapore, I decided to start the 30 days of yoga videos from Yoga with Adriene. 2 days complete so far, and I've eaten a lot of green things. aside from physical self-care, I'm trying to put less pressure on myself in regards to the book and this blog. I still have so much of New Zealand, and now another mass of recent Taiwan travels... but after completing my series on visiting Taiwan I was feeling a little burned out.

I can't really predict how things are going to be around here for the next few weeks. there's plenty of real-life happenings in the form of friendsgivings and holiday potlucks, cooking classes, hiking dates and happy hours, and probably re-watching all 12 of these holiday movies. there may or may not be a yearly recap post, reader survey, or any of your standard end-of-year blog fare going on.

at the least I wanted to pop in and say hello, I'm still here. and that I hope wherever you are, you're not feeling full of holiday blues. [but if you are - know that you're not alone.] mostly this is just my way of expressing the situation in hopes of moving past it to enjoy my holidays. I know that I will. and I hope that whichever holidays and however you celebrate, you enjoy yours too. 


snapshots from the Shilin Night Market

Shilin, like any night market, is an assault on the senses. flashing lights beckon you towards cheap trinkets for sale, while whiffs of stinky tofu drive you in the opposite direction. balloons whirl amidst the pop of darts and the crinkle of plastic-wrapped prizes. the warm glow of a gua bao stall draws you in, glistening red candied tomatoes and strawberries water your mouth. the whir of fruit in blenders makes music with sizzling sausages, clinking glasses, and the laughter of children up way past their bedtime.

from deep in this maze of scents and colors, a temple emerges. nearly every night market has one - the heart of the market around which all this poetic chaos has formed, sometimes over centuries. red lanterns illuminate the night, golden deities shimmer behind a smoke screen of incense.

but most people walk by, more interested in bowls of soup and dog costumes at this time of night.

the people flow through the crowded alleyways, snacking on crispy fried squid and inappropriately shaped desserts. they buy giant stuffed broccolis wearing mustaches, cartoon character luggage tags, bedazzled cropped sweatshirts, iPhone cases shaped like superheroes, and anything decorated in cat faces or Totoro.

you might be elbowed or have your foot stepped on, but don't take it personally. look around and take it all in. whip out your phone for some photos [as I did] or brave your lens in the crowd. play a carnival game or fish for shrimp. buy a funny t-shirt and stuff yourself with questionable street food. that's just what you do: another night at the Shilin Market.

Shilin Night Market can be found just off the MRT at Jiantan station, most stalls are open between 5pm and midnight-ish.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...