I fell pretty hard for Hsinchu City, my home in Taiwan, almost instantaneously. One reason why? The everyday possibility of adventure. All we need to do is grab our scooter keys and helmets and head off into the nearby hills. There, everything is new & exciting & foreign. There, adventure is automatic. While we know the road that leads out of the city and into the mountains pretty well, there are so many meandering side roads just begging to be explored.
My goal this year to is embrace local & everyday adventure. In this pursuit, I have spent a lot of time lately with my nose in the Lonely Planet Taiwan and scouring the Internet for inspiration & information. I discovered the small Taiwanese village of Beipu on Pinterest of all places. One pin seared itself on to my imagination: a blue-green swimming hole in front of a small waterfall.
I showed Sean the pin.
His immediate response: let's go.
So we did. We packed our baby blue polka dot explorer's backpack with a hand drawn map, snacks and the Canon. And then we left, simple as that. For about 10 minutes, we scooted down familiar roads, but then they began to fork and we would look at each other, shrug and decide to go this way or that. Our landmarks were simple things: after passing an elementary school, turn left & near the 7-11, look for a road called...
We definitely took a few wrong turns, because there were a lot of elementary schools and 7-11s and signs with no English. We definitely worried that my little scooter would not make it up a few mountain hills. We definitely pulled over on the side of the road a few times to recap how did we get here so we could attempt to make it back home. And we definitely stopped a few times to marvel at gigantic temples and towering mountain peaks.
In the end, we scooted right past Beipu and didn't even realize it. That's how small the village is. We whizzed by it in a blur, but after scooting for far longer than Google Maps said we would have to, we turned around. Sean noticed one small English sign that said: Beipu --->, so that's where we went.
I had no idea what to expect. Lonely Planet had three short paragraphs on Beipu, and the tone of those paragraphs weren't exactly compelling. Pinterest had a handful of photos, but all of the same things-- that swimming hole and a temple. Following the sign, we made it to a township but were not certain it was Beipu Township until we scooted right by the temple I saw online.
But make it we did.
We parked and wandered the old street, with its fruit vendors, welcoming (and definitely curious) smiles and familiar dragon-covered temple.
On a random Thursday, I have to admit that not a whole lot was happening in Beipu. Locals sat outside their stores and chatted. Kids rode their bicycles. People bought groceries. And that was about it. I guess small town life is small town life, no matter where you are in the world.
A few roads exited the town. We randomly chose one and scooted for about 20 minutes. After seeing no river/creek/water source of any kind, we turned around and headed back to the main drag of Beipu. We then chose the unlikeliest exit from town, one that appeared to be a dead end, but lo and behold: it was the one. Right before the road came to an end, there was a narrow alley. Even better? There was a small, brown sign that read: COLD SPRINGS ----->.
Elated, we drove and drove and drove and drove down a single lane road. The road passed farms and homes and ran alongside a beautiful, rocky river. Vegetation from the mountainside appeared to be trying to swallow up whole the narrow paved lane.
We rounded one of many corners and there it was: the blue-green swimming hole from Pinterest!
It was a happening spot.
There were plenty of families.
There were a few fishermen.
There was a scooter horde of college students.
And then there was us.
We kind of stuck of like a sore thumb.
Everyone stopped what they were doing, gave us huge smiles and then proceeded to ignore us.
It was one of the nicest things that could have happened.
We climbed down into the river and wandered up the river bed until we were right up to one of the mini waterfalls.
No one was there; it was our own personal cold spring.
Sean dove right in and I savored the feeling of getting in slowly.
While Lonely Planet may not have been that impressed with Beipu, I wonder if the author felt as adventurous and refreshed as I did as we scooted back down the mountain side, sopping wet, with hearts full of wonder at all of the small yet lovely places just waiting to be discovered up in those hills.
Stay tuned for our next scoot adventure to a place called Emei.
What awaits us there?
Apparently, a huge free standing golden Buddha statue.
And who knows what else?
But that's all part of the adventure!
Head over to Travel Tuesday &