Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道

Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道 was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway. The main point of entry is Fulong 福隆, a beach town in New Taipei City about an hour outside of Taipei 台北 by train. Riding through the old tunnel makes for a great day trip from Taipei 台北—as long as you don’t go on a weekend.

Bicycle rental at Fulong station.
Bicycle rental at Fulong station.

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Room without a view

My first sunset as a resident of Tainan.
My first sunset as a resident of Tainan.

I captured this from my new place in Tainan city 台南市 immediately after moving most of my stuff in.

Moving, for a minimalist, is not exactly effortless, but it isn’t particularly arduous, as most moves are. Most of the moves I have done in my lifetime were nightmarish affairs that took weeks to months to orchestrate and execute.

Nowadays I can pick up and go with a few hours notice. It isn’t that I keep all my stuff packed and waiting—it is simply that I don’t own very much. And I could no doubt get rid of more stuff that I have accumulated in the last year or so.

This apartment doesn’t have much of a view despite being within walking distance of some of the most historic sights in Tainan. Actually, my room doesn’t have any windows I can look out of. I shot this photograph from the stairwell.

I don’t really mind the lack of a view. Rather, it’s something I don’t mind giving up for the low cost of rent and the awesome location. I spend most of my time at home staring at a screen or the back of my eyelids anyhow. If I want to see the city I can tumble down four flights of stairs and take my bicycle for a spin. Tainan is right outside.

The most terrifying fact about the universe…

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death—however mutable man may be able to make them—our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Stanley Kubrick, Playboy, 1968

Yongye road hotel 永業路旅館

I was out cycling through Bitan 碧潭 one night when I noticed a big building with blown-out windows looming over Yongye Road (永業路). The skeletal outline of a collapsed rooftop against the umbral sky confirmed my suspicions: this building was abandoned. It was too dark to take a closer look that particular night but I vowed to return.

The remains of a bar on the top floor of the hotel.
The remains of a bar on the top floor of the hotel.

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Inside the courtyard at Mirador Mansions

Inside the courtyard at Mirador Mansions.
Inside the courtyard at Mirador Mansions.

Mirador Mansions (美麗都大廈) is right next to the more famous Chungking Mansions 重慶大廈 in Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙嘴, Hong Kong 香港. Like its more famous neighbour, Mirador is home to a dizzying variety of relatively inexpensive hostels and guest houses. This should explain all the bedsheets hanging out to dry!

Bicycle security in Taiwan

I was surprised to see how little Taiwanese people care for the security of their bicycles after arriving on the island in early 2013. Everywhere I went I saw bicycles with cheap locks wrapped around the wheel—or not locked at all. Sure, most of the bicycles I saw were beaters, but back home they would be stolen in an instant and broken down for parts if they couldn’t be sold outright.

Bicycles in Taiwan are almost never securely locked. Then again, most of them are just beaters.
Bicycles in Taiwan are almost never securely locked. Then again, most of them are just beaters.

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Moving to Tainan

A robot planter across from my new place in Tainan.
A robot planter across from my new place in Tainan.

After living in Taipei 台北 for nearly a year I feel as if it is time for a change of pace. I mainly keep to myself and seldom get together with friends or otherwise take advantage of all the wonders of such an international city. Most of my days are taken up by cycling around and solitary work in cafes. This I can do anyplace in Taiwan.

When I arrived in Tainan city 台南市 on my bicycle trip around the island I immediately felt a strange kinship with the place. I thought to myself, now this is a place I could see myself living. In recent months I returned several times to suss out whether or not that initial impression held true or not. Having satisfied myself that this is the case today I went and placed a deposit down on a new place in Tainan not far from the train station.

I captured this photo on the way out of my new place. This little guy rests in front of an old concrete building immediately across from where I’ll be staying for the next few months. Tainan is a fascinating place and I am sure I will be writing more about it soon.

The strangest moment of all

I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, that I didn’t know who I was… I was far away from home haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared, I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost…

Jack Kerouac, On The Road: The Original Scroll, 1951