Here we go, Taiwan/Hong Kong digest. Like per usual, hyperlinks point to the relevant timeline post, with lots more pics. Like not per usual, full-res photos haven’t been despatched to Flickr, on account of the latter jacked up their prices, so I don’t wanna deal with them no more. So, I’m hosting the pictures on my own site — it’s a very basic interface, but, okey, at least I don’t gotta pay extra for that. Therefore, all Hong Kong and Taiwan photos are now online here at ze Durian Apocalypse.
This WILL be on the quiz.
They’ve got lanes painted into the sidewalks to keep the bus queues very nice and organised-like. And you’re all, “Oh, that’s neat.” So then you find the lane for the route you want, and when you look up, it’s like, “Holy fuck, this shit is longer than the line for Space Mountain!”
A timely reminder from your friends at the Lands Dept. (reads: “TRIGONOMETRICAL STATION Do Not Deface Or Damage”).
Coconuts. If they only had Coconuts in Hong Kong, I could consider living here full time, just frickin’ sending my dimpled ass hiking by day and guzzling down Cocos by night. And to think, I might never’ve even visited here in the first place if not for Asiana Airlines’ forcing of my hand with its inscrutable blunderings. Three cheers for inscrutable blunderings, gol dammit!
The hiking opportunities here are basically limitless; so it’s kind of a cross between deer-in-the-headlights indecision and kid-on-Xmas-morning anticipation when choicing where to instruct one’s dimpled ass to on any given day go to. But, natch, getting a ferryboat to one of the outlying islands was a must. Going ’round Cheung Chau is more country stroll than hike, being that the trails are almost all of the paved variety. There are some nice hillclimbing, though, so it’s still a good spot of exercise, and all. But, anyhow, with scenery like these, it’s almost beside the point that you’re also leaving the cigarette smoke and noise pollution of the city behind you — though that’s certainly not unappreciated!
That’s a lot of Buddhas. To be honest, though, the Buddha museum at Nakhon Si Thammarat is about 10,000 times better — but then, I’ve never been a fan of Chinese Buddhist iconography. Also, give that CEDD graphic designer a raise!
Worn out your copy of Voulez-Vous and looking for a replacement? Fear not, friends: I’ve got your dimpled asses covered!
N.B., motherfuckers! (Although there does appear to be a loophole for female owners.)
Presenting the newest superhero the cool kids are in a few months’ time all going to be going crazy over.
If I could afford to live here, this would be my routine every day from now until the End Times™:
~ Listening on the new Bassekou Kouyate ‘longplay’ record album.
~ Hiking my dimpled ass utterly unto oblivion (or close enough as makes no difference).
~ Eating four-bazillion-and-three of these little MiniMangos™, here. They’re about twenty-seven U.S. cents apiece; that’s not exactly great value for money — but neither is it piss-poor. Anyway, that angle doesn’t matter a jot, because these things are so goddamned cute and so motherfuckin’ delicious that you can’t ever stop eating them — even if you wanted to (which I don’t).
~ Listening on the new Ladytron ‘longplay’ record album.
My admiration of and gratitude for the sheer magnitude of and ease of access to the trails system here knows no bounds. But that said, just imagine how indescribably beautiful this place must have been before the developers got their hooks into it…
Also, I seen the biggest eagle I ever have to-day — but only for a few seconds before it disappeared into the mist. I dunno, might have been a CIA drone, or something.
Passing Jogger: You’re barefoot.
Me: That’s correct.
He: There’s broken…broken glass all over the floor.
Me [There wasn’t; but…]: Yeah.
He: Very dangerous!
He: [Jogging away.]
I’ve been issued this very same frantic warning so many times over the years, perhaps it’d do to declare the following Open Letter To All Well-Meaning Citizens: Your concern is appreciated. But the thing is, barefooters are, despite their condition, able to see the ground in front of them. If there’s broken glass in their path, they will endeavour to manoeuvre around it — or, should that strategy prove untenable, throw on some sandals until the danger has passed. Please don’t lose any more sleep over this issue (and please do have a pleasant tomorrow).
When you pass a Chinesian person on the trail, he or she always merrily chirps, “Good morning!” Nice and friendly, to be sure — but they use the same greeting irrespective of the time of day. Of course, I don’t know how to say Good anything even in Mandarin, let alone Cantonese. So, “Good morning!” I merrily chirp in response.
And on the seventh day, they created…sunshine! Landed my dimpled ass back here in Taipei and was promptly rewarded with six days sans even the minutest peep of The Orb — two of those were merely overcast; the others raining down just exactly like I was back Seattle way (except a bit warmer). To-day finally dawned gloriously blue-skied, and hiking time was afoot (ha ha, no pun intended — but I like it, so I’ll leave it in).
My third iteration climbing Mt. Qixing — the first was a hellstorm of rain and wind at the summit; the second dry but socked in with mist; and to-day sunny but hazy in the distance. So I’ve still yet to experience its legendary views in full throttle. Also, you can see, while there is colour in them thar hills, I appear to’ve arrived too late to catch the peak of cherry blossom season. Crumbled cookies and all that.
Fawking crazy day on the trails to-day, combining the features of many of my favourite locations of recent traverse — the spooky, ethereal fog and mist of Haputhale, Sri Lanka; the gigantor trees of Sepilok, Sabah; the cool, autumnal temps, endless miles under the canopy, and large elevation gains of the Issaquah Alps; the stunning mountainous scenery of northern Bali (mostly socked in on this day, but the glimpses were almost unimaginably tantalising); the steep/tricky climbs and descents requiring rope assistance of Penang Hill and Mt. Kinabalu — into one, big, massive superhike the likes of which my dimpled ass has very rarely ever before experienced.
It’s still no match for Nepal, mind you, but it has altered my perception of just what hiking in Taiwan can really come to mean. Alas, the winter/spring bugaboo of shite quality air is slated to make an unwelcome return this week, which will probably end up slowing yon roll for a while; but hopefully not for too long: Striding these hills is frickin’ habit-forming!
Custodians of mirth, ain’t it?
Every god damned time, I see these motherfuckers on the “Internet”; they’re so in love with the Red Banana. And every time I try to too, I’m just like, “That’s a motherfuckin’ meh if ever there were a motherfuckin’ meh.” You know what I’m sayin’?
But now, oh lord now, right here in Jiji town, I have SEEN the motherfuckin’ LIGHT, y’alls. I say, I say, I say Holy McShizzles, Batman!, that’s some motherfuckin’ quality Bananaism right now.
(The lady threw one in as a motherfuckin’ freebie with my Papayas and Clementines, and now I am hooked. These motherfuckin’ fruit vendors…sharp as a tack, ever single one o’ them-all.)
Second visit to Xitou, and I still haven’t come close to unearthing all its wonders. I’m beginning to realise, however, that I may have made a strategical error in planning and partaking of these waterfall hikes during low-flow season. They’re still purty, and all, but…gotta try come back after a typhoon has passed through.
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, by the way, when being in amongst Chinesian peeps. On the one hand, they love to move their dimpled asses through space-time, so it’s deuce easy to find public exercise equipment in the neighbourhoods. And, up in the hills, their trails systems are truly stupendous — planning, execution, maintenance, access, the whole of the goddam shebang. But but but but but, on thee other hand: When they’re out in the bush in their droves (just the same as in town), the thought of allowing more than four seconds’ peace and quiet to occur just creeps them the ever-loving fuck out. They’re loud; they’re obnoxious — dare I say downright boorish? — they arrive at the scenic overlooks before you do; and they work in tag-teams, so it’s impossible to wait them out. The only way to experience a respite is to keep climbing higher. They do like to exercise — but they don’t wanna get left behind by their tour buses, so there are built-in limits…
And that puts a wrap on this week’s episode of GET THE FUCK OFFA MY LAWN, YOU PISSANTS! — make sure to tune in for next week’s thrilling edition, won’t you?
Fuck me running, I couldn’t be more in love with this place if Yeshua hisself turned up and plopped my dimpled ass into a vat of slimy goop. No, I haven’t been teleportated to Yellowstone Park (not that that’d be a bad thing); nor is that a thermal feature roiling away on the right side of the frame there. The effect is in point of fact being caused by the inlet flow from an aquaduct originating at a nearby reservoir (or so assures the signage).
The hostel people quoted a twenty percent discount for longstay — but the goddam forecast is calling for rainy skies and cool temps for a solid week; so I think I’ll reluctantly scoot away somewhere sunnier before returning to sample the local trails in earnest…
There’s a gadfly on the loose at Sun Moon Lake! I daresay he or she has elevated his or her craft to the level of artistry…
Completed the two-day circumnavigation with near-perfect weather both days; totting up right at 100,000 steps on the ol’ pedometer for the two days combined. In case the photos all look more less the same, please don’t allow thus to dissuade your dimpled ass from visiting here: When walking alongside, the lake and its surroundings look so fugging beautiful, tourist can’t NOT take a picture…but that doesn’t mean it’ll do the scene justice. It just doesn’t mean that, bitches!
And it’s almost as beautiful even when it’s all rainy and foggy. Not as much fun to walk around during, though…
Never expected to come to this little tourist village and find Eggfruit — the only other place I’ve even seen it was in Kota Kinabalu (where they call it “Avocado Cheese” even though it tastes nothing like either one). Not nearly as good here as it was there, but, not bad.
This beats any and every human-composed and -performed symphony like a red-headed stepchild, ain’t it? It’s much appreciated, too, to be able to find some areas of deep repose as, apart from Malaysia’s, Taiwan’s noise pollution may be the worst of any country I’ve visited.
It stopped raining about an hour before sunset. That certainly was friendly of It.
There’s A (Butterfly) Riot Goin’ On.
Triple-Steps Tuesday at Houjian Mountain. Oy vey, these Asian trail architects are sadists of the purest stripe. Well, regardless of the fact, I duly locomoted my very own dimpled ass up to the very top step, and found there (yet again) the very best of sceneries. Welcome to make the attempt, natch, but says here one’d have a difficult time convincing me that there’s a more better place to walk your feet, listen your ears, breathe your lungs, and look your eyes than right here in thee hills of little ol’ Nantou County, Taiwan.
p.s. Didja ever lay eyes upon a more behemoth incense coil than the one pictured here? Because I, personally, have not. (Well, I mean, NOW I have — but before this, I personally had not.) And it smells like real incense, too; not the bullcrap joss stick waft like you get at the Chinesian temples in Penang. So you know, dimpled ass trapped in a joss stick cloud is approximately 10,000 times more worser than tear gas situation.
Some fun pics from around Jiji and Shuili.
Had intended to send my dimpled ass up this trail last weekend, but three straight days of pretty steady rain postponed the adventure ’til to-day. The trail is roughly the same distance and elevation gain as Mt. Si, but feels markedly more difficult to my way of thinking. A truly great hike — the lower third comprised of 1,800 stone and earthen steps as is so common in hiking trails here in the Orient; the upper third was more of the sadistic, super-steep, rope-assisted, strewn-with-rocks-and-massive-tree-roots terrain which is also so common here; while the middle third, a gigantic bamboo grove which, apart from the incessant gnat population, could be the most beautiful, the most peaceful, the most serene place one would ever hope to step foot, is enough to make a sumbitch want to scurry on up there over ‘n’ over again. God damn Taiwan is the ultimate hikers’ paradise writ large, in my opinion. (Before you ask: Nepal is the trekker’s paradise; but day-hiking there, while quite nice, really doesn’t hold a candle to Taiwan.)
Always recommend a sunset stroll beside a gorgeous lake to buffer one’s return to civilisation after a long, grueling day’s hike.
Even though it be lowflow time, we still can’t allow too many days to pass without we send our dimpled ass on a waterfall trail, ain’t it? And, do you know?, if you wash behind your ears always and are nice to your siblings, the waterfall gods might even send a whole buncha leaves coptering through your footage you’re shooting. Thank you, waterfall gods!
And, yes, it’s snakes country. And yes they’re in season right now. And yes I’m scared shitless I’m going to step on one and it’s going to fill my dimpled ass up with venom. And yes that’ll probably be curtains because I’m usually tromping around hours away from anywhere and can’t afford to get a Taiwanese SIM card and prefer to hike alone. And no I can’t stop going hiking. And no I can’t wear “proper” shoes like everyone keeps instructing me to. So yes I hope they’ll take pity on me — but who the hell believes I deserve that? And, no, you can’t have my stuff if I buy the farm here because I’m giving it all to the retarded kids.
p.s. Check out the badass effect in the second clip created by the sun reflecting off the moving water and back up onto the trees and whatnot. When’s the last time you ever saw anything that trippy on a Hollywood movie screen. NEVER, that’s when! Mother Nature wins again, bitches.
Whoah (I say), whoa there. Just et my first Atemoya. This shit is definitely better than Custard Apple, and infinitely better than Cherimoya. Not ready to say it’s better than Soursop, but, I feel I should warn you that that day might in fact come. It really might.
Along the Puli Green Bikeway.
What, there’s a bus number 0 here?? My thoughts are these:
a.) Did I just wake up in a Bergman movie?
b.) I’m going to ride the shit outta this route.
You know how most of the time, so long as you keep moving, mosquitos will allow you to pass by unmolested and wait for the next schmuck to come through and hopefully stop for some nice loitering around within their demesne? Well, Taiwanesian mosquitos, NO, they’ll latch on to your dimpled ass whether you keep moving or not. Fuckin’ assholes.
But that’s nothing at all to do with to-day’s topic — viz., that there’s yet another Asian festival in progress. This one’s to do with tidying up the gravesites of the dearly departed (along with, I would suppose, the undertaking of similarly venerative gestures); but it’s really just an excuse to light off ten million firecrackers — and, natch, for hostel owners to jack their rates up by 30% or so throughout the entire four-day weekend.
Hostel livin’: The owner of this joint at which I’m currently residing here in Tainan — a Korean national who made money hand over fist working in the Arabian oil sector for seven years, but when he decided to knock off and chillax for a few, the Korean government informed him that they were going to tax the ever-loving shit out of his nest egg unless he did his chillaxing outside of Korea, so he came here instead and after some time grew bored with chillaxism and opened the hostel for something to do — is, as you may have noticed, some kind of mad scientist type, seen here inventing a converter box which will enable the Japanese buskers staying at the joint to greatly reduce the quantity of batteries required to run their instruments and amplifiers, thus very much lightening their load whilst simultaneously tripling their maximum playing duration (they’re apparently making halfway decent money, as it happens).
Adding to my collection of geographical extent observations. Let’s see, there’s…
~ The westernmost point of Oahu: 8 out of 10 on my exclusive Scale Of Awesome (which is my intellectual property, so please don’t try to use it without paying royalties, okay?).
~ The sothernmost point of Taiwan: 2.5 out of 10. (Other sites within the park — from which these photos were taken — rate much more highly, just to clarify.)
~ The southernmost point of continental Asia: 0.5 out of 10.
~ The [northern] Tip Of Borneo: 9,000,000 out of 10.
So I guess I need to work on my Easts — any recommendations?
p.s. Met a friendly three-person contingent of a group on its 52nd day of a 57-day circumnavigation of the entire Formosan coastline. About seventy people will have participated for various lengths of time — fifteen of them for the whole shebang. God damn, how I wish I’d known about this activity!
Back to Jialeshuei again; and it’s like FUCK museums, man. This is the REAL modern art, right here — because it took zillions of years to make perfect. What artist has that kind of patience? Nobody! Mother Nature, she still got the belt (of that you may rest assured).
Psst, hey parents, want to impress your goofnut kids next weekend? Bring their dimpled asses here and turn ’em loose. Best…Easter egg hunt…EVAR!!
Not, perhaps, the imagery evoked by the words “Moon World” (nor even “Moom World”, as one of the signs mistakenly reads), “badlands”, “no vegetation can grow here”. But, okey, it’s pretty enough scenery. And the staffperson at the visitor centre was very nice and friendly — although she was unable to pronounce the word “pavilion”, even with my coaching — she made several game attempts at it, bless her soul, before finally giving up, and thereafter referring to the Sunrise Pavilion as the Sunrise Whatever. But I’ll tell you what: She was exceptionally diligent in providing pamphlets with maps, and even obsessed over photocopying a bus timetable, even after I’d snapped a pix of it with my smartphone. She related that it was possible to stay onsite in one of their “Moon Huts” for ten bucks a night (twelve-fiddy on weekends), and be just a twenty minute walk away from the Sunrise Whatever — which is where these photos are from; but it’s apparently quite the sight when it’s actually the sunrise, and not some hours later.
I wanted to explore around a bit more, but it’s not really easy to get to the recommended areas on foot — which was all right, as it allowed me to both work on my tan and rack up some crooked numbers on the pedometer during the eight-mile walk back to the bus transfer area (it was gonna be a three-hour wait for the next bus to there anyhow, so…). So perhaps we’ll give it a try at a future date. Maybe sleep it up in the Moon Tubes, and get our dimpled asses outta bed in time for sunrise, god dammit all! After all, according to one of the pamphlets…
There are always treacherously steep sandstone cliffs to scramble up that can, at times, be quite perilous. It is easy to completely lose one’s bearings with the mazes of limestone and gravel cliffs towering above, and the steep hills can encircle and lead into areas that feel alien and otherworldly — therein lies Caoshan Moon World’s charm.
Finally someone is getting serious about confronting the wordwide striding menace head-on. Thank you, Taiwan!
The situation in Dulan. Will report back if I find out more.
Mt. Dulan. Maybe the most difficult, and certainly the most treacherous Taiwanese trail to-date (not fall-over-the-cliff-and-never-heard-from-again treacherous, but even slip-and-fall-and-dirty-your-britches treacherous is enough to require one’s continuous attention). Even the walk from the bus stop to the trailhead is brutally steep and exposed to the sun. Feeling mojoless after that climb, I had to sit down in the O-deck located at the trailhead to ponder whether I had it in me, having had only one recovery day from a long/steep hike in Jinlun two days prior.
Finally I decided that it was early enough that even taking it very slowly would not present a problem in re the daylight, and if I wasn’t feeling it, I could always turn around and try again on another day. But getting out of the sun and under the canopy gave me a nice battery recharge, and when I noted that I’d knocked out 20% of the distance in about fifteen minutes’ time, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Shit, Holmes, you keep up this pace, and you’ll be back in time for General Hospital!”
No sooner had the words left my mouth that the trail began to show its true colours: Mud, slippery conditions, bugs, overgrown stretches — yes, it’s possible for a trail to be a little too lush — and then the long, steep, tricky sections requiring rope assistance. It was to put it mildly not easy, but it was beautiful — and the jungle symphonics were about the best I ever did hear.
I saw only one other person the entire time — an older Chinese gent who’d passed me on his motorcycle on my way to the trailhead. We met as I was almost to the summit, and after an enthusiastic greeting, he was off like a rocket back down to the bottom. He was apparently in such a hurry that…well, perhaps he had a dentist appointment he had to get to.
As for your humble narrator, I took so much time on the way down basking in the music, I didn’t make it back to town in time for General Hospital or even close — but the Coconut shack back down at the bus stop was a fine enough sight indeed!
By the way, I saw this one insect flying — it looked like a lunar lander, or similar. Huhn, that’s a new one on me.
Fun in the sun!
That’s right, bitchez: I stood on two different tectonic plates at the same goddamned time. Bring your dimpled ass to Yuli/Fuli and you can do the same goddamned thing!
Aaaaand fun in the gloaming!
By the way (and this is just me ranting now, so feel free to change the channel any time), I put 63,000 steps onto the pedometer with a goodly amount of elevation gain on a very hot day with only four hours’ sleep AND undertook a little resistance band routine upon my return — and never ate a single thing ’til 5:00 in the PM. And such arrangements are thrown down by my dimpled ass on the regular. My point being, the authority figures telling sordid tales of breakfast’s supposed importance are jackanapes. So very, very jackanapes.
Hostel art for the win.
Holy fuckshizzles, Bat-homie, those are some mountainous mountains. I cower and tremble before thee, but am also drawn like moth to the proverbial flame.
It’s been in a rainy period for now several days’ time, so I thought to go visit some waterfalls I seent on the map. And just in the last little bit — like the last half-mile or so — my dimpled ass was duly thwarted by a fuckin’ locked gate. So, after submitting a Big Fuck You to locked gates everwhere, I went down to the river, where at least I got to check out the “fishway” (AKA fish ladder) and some more of those crazy Dalrymple-style rocks over which I can’t stop swooning — they’re all the way up and down the fuckin’ coast, ain’t it???
First one to say it ten times fast will be able to harness the demonic forces for their benefit!
Man, this Watermelon tastes like fuckin’ vanilla milkshake. I suppose I’ve eaten a couple thousand Watermelons the last ten years or so, and have never had one quite like this. You just never know…
Another indelible day away from the city.
Wuta: A railway station so remote, it doesn’t even come with a staffperson to check tickets — nor does anybody seem to know or care that the entranceway’s card sensor is on the fritz. But get yer dimpled ass down here and make the one-hour walk out to the coast, and you’ll be treated to: A beautiful black sand beach, a supercute waterfall, ubermajestic cliffs slash eye-popping coastline, uberfresh air, and the good old Pacific Ocean. Oh, yeah…and still more badass rocks.
Last day in Hualien: So enthralled with these mountains.
Maaaybe my last chance to get a hike in, on account of it’s stormy weather in the forecast for the foreseeable future. That being the case, one couldn’t not send one’s dimpled ass on a triple-waterfall hike, ain’t it?
It’s been raining a fair amount this month, so I actually thought the throughput might be a little higher — still in all, the falls didn’t disappoint, and it was another glorious day in Taiwan.
The trail was one of these deceptive ones that are so common here — starts out very easy, and then all of the suddenly, holy hell breaks loose: Muddy conditions, lots of up and down requiring rope (and even ladder) assistance, some river crossings, massive tree roots, bugs, cobwebs, the whole nine yards. And slipperier than a motherfuck in places. Indeed, I lost my footing real good one and suffered the worst fall on a hike in many a year just five minutes from the end. Luckily, though, the trail gods were on my side to-day, and I came through it with just a very slightly sprained wrist. Counting my lucky stars…and dreaming of returning here to Hikers’ Paradise sooner than later for more funtime goodtime adventures.
Been a while since I done a new “Video Vlog”, but #000003 is now live and loaded. Don’t shit all over it all at once, ain’t it?