Day 7 of my bicycle trip around Taiwan began with deep disappointment and ended in delight. I woke up in my hotel room on the main road leading into Budai (布袋) without a working smartphone. I tried to boot up but it was caught in a loop, resetting itself over and over again. Without a clock in the room I had no idea what time it was but figured there was no rush. There were at least three ferries plying the route from Budai to Penghu. Surely one of those ferries would sail in the afternoon.
A few snapshots of my life in Taiwan in January 2014. I went on several excursions around the island, all documented below. Somehow I managed to spend time in and around Taipei, New Taipei City (Jinguashi, Jiufen, Fulong, and Magang), Kaohsiung, Changhua (Yuanlin and Lukang), Nantou (Jiji), Yilan (Jiaoxi and Sicheng), and Tainan, all without breaking the bank. I am reminded, yet again, of how wonderful it is to live in Taiwan, with its incredibly low cost of discovery. Moving around and exploring the island is so effortless that it comes naturally, without much thinking or forethought.
If you like what you see please follow me on Instagram. Additionally, my more professional work can be found on Flickr, though there is usually a long delay between taking photos and actually posting them.
Recently I have started to compile monthly digests of my Instagram activity, mostly to give friends and family a window into my world here in Taiwan. Here’s some of what I got up to in the month of December… and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you like what you see here.
On the sixth day of my round-the-island bicycle trip I set out across the Chianan plain, a desolate expanse of countryside littered with rice paddies, fish farms, salt pans, the occasional factory or industrial plant, and small, unremarkable settlements. My destination was Budai (布袋), a fishing town in Chiayi county, where I planned to catch a ferry to Penghu (澎湖), a group of picturesque islands in the Taiwan Strait, the following day.
My fifth day on the road was slow and contemplative. I felt no pressure to outdo the adventures of the previous day. I had no specific goal for the day, only a general feeling that I should remain in motion, though not with any sense of urgency.
I packed my gear in my hotel room in Fengjia and hit the streets with a bag of dirty laundry and hunger gnawing at my insides. Despite the prevalence of student housing I did not see a laundromat as I cycled the streets adjacent to the university. Breakfast was no problem, however; I enjoyed a set meal at a curry restaurant in the market area while planning my escape from Taichung. I eventually decided to head out in the direction of Lukang (鹿港; literally “deer harbour”), a historic port town in Changhua county.
I woke in a rundown hotel room not far from the train station in Fengyuan (豐原). Sunlight trickled in through discolored drapes to fill the space with a murky glow. My muscles were knotted and my lower back ached, a consequence of sleeping on the rock-hard mattress and a tough, lumpy pillow after yesterday’s long ride. The passage of night left me feeling a vague sense of unease, almost as if there were something not quite right about the world I returned to. I lingered in bed, letting the moment pass.
Shaking off the discomfort, I gathered up my belongings, packed the panniers on my bicycle, and hauled everything down musty red-carpeted stairs to the lobby below. I passed the key back to the old woman behind the counter and took to the street in search of breakfast. My goals for the day: cycle the Houfeng and Dongfeng bikeways, explore an abandoned theme park in the hills above Taichung, and make it to Fengjia night market to meet a friend by nightfall.
Encore Garden (亞哥花園) is an abandoned theme park in the hills above Taichung city in Taiwan. I learned about this urban explorer’s dream after reading up on Katolis World, another abandoned amusement park demolished a few years ago, and finding a link to this blog. As part of my epic bicycle tour of Taiwan I stopped off to see whether I could sneak in and capture the essence of this forgotten and neglected place. Here is what I found…
After taking it easy the day before I set out to ride south to Taichung (臺中), about 100 km away. There were several sights I wanted to see on the approach to Taichung city itself so I wasn’t entirely sure I would make it all the way there with daylight to spare. In fact, I was quite sure I would not—I had been up late again, wrestling with insomnia, and was not ready to go until the early afternoon.