Monday, August 17, 2015

a few wrong turns to Beipu

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 in 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 7-11's 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 wasn'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, locals with 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. 
After admiring the temple and perusing the stalls along the old street, we decided to try to find the swimming hole. The rumor was that it was a cold spring. To us, in the midst of a hot & humid Taiwanese summer, that sounded like the loveliest thing on earth.

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?
That's all part of the adventure! 


36 comments

  1. I also want to explore my own backyward more this year although I have to say, your "backyard" looks way more exciting and exotic. These pictures are so lovely! How cool that you get to see sceneries like these whenever you like!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the picture of the building with the blue shutters! I'm like you, I want to enjoy the everyday, those things which other people might think of as mundane. To me Beipu is definitely not mundane, but to someone somewhere it is! And those cold springs look utterly refreshing. What a cool place to have just a scooter ride away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! I walked by it and the had to turn around so I could take its picture! I love all the plants! Whoever lives there sure has a green thumb!

      Delete
  3. I love this - there's nothing like venturing out on a bit of an adventure and just exploring. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so too! It's laid back and exciting at the same time.

      Delete
  4. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day! I just moved to a new city and have been going to the same places day after day. This has really inspired me to go out and look for a small town to visit (which there are plenty of, here in southern Spain).

    PS.I really love this photoset. I kept scrolling over the photos and noticing new details each time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awe, thanks!
      It's easy to get stuck in a rut/routine.We are teachers so we have the time off right now to just decide to go somewhere new. I hope we can keep it up once school starts!

      Delete
  5. Sounds like a great place to explore. Some of my favourite local places in the UK would never make it into the Lonely Planet books, I always smile when I read about Oxford and think what they've missed out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's just the benefit of being local I guess.

      Delete
  6. Wow beautiful! I wish I could just pack up and drive to places this beautiful! Lovely photographs as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet you could. Although, you know, a little less Taiwanese :)

      Delete
  7. Looks like a perfect place to explore and see. The waterfall is breathtaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I am not even sure if waterfall is the right word, but I just went with it because water was, you know, falling.

      Delete
  8. I was there with you - totally. This looks and sounds so carefree and adventurous and spirited. What an amazing place to visit and an amazing place to get lost in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!! It was the carefree part I loved the most. Sometimes travel is exhausting with all of the buses and trains and maps. This was so easy: get on bike, scoot, turn around when you want to go home.

      Delete
  9. What a lovely time! I really enjoy finding hidden gems like this. Love your pictures too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!!! This was a great lesson for me, because I know everyplace has something like this.

      Delete
  10. Your photos are fantastic, you totally captured the spirit of Taiwan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think Taiwan has such a beautiful spirit to capture :

      Delete
  11. A reminder that we can find awesome spots in our own backyard. By the way, Taiwan is so full of natural beauty. I desire to visit only grows every time I read posts like yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taiwan is full of beauty! I would actually hate it if more people started visiting-- hahaha! I like it that it's not on people's radars! Maybe I need to stop blogging about it...

      Delete
  12. What a gorgeous place! It's always great when we can discover such hidden gems in our own back yard. Your photos are stunning! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!! It's a stunning place, so it's hard to take a bad picture!

      Delete
  13. Holy cow - that was so worth the confusing journey! And the trip there sounded fun in itself. Cheers to your adventurous spirit and finding more little gems in your guidebook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The trip was awesome! That's what I love about scoot adventures-- it's all about the journey and never really about the destination!

      Delete
  14. What a sweet trip and how lucky to have such a spontaneous partner. You're lucky to have this gem nearby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very lucky! He is the best travel buddy in the world (in my biased opinion)!

      Delete
  15. I love your recount of the journey to Beipu. It's fascinating what you can find when you wander off the beaten track a little. That blue-green swimming hole looks amazing! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was such a fun adventure! And it was amazing, and delightfully cool!

      Delete
  16. Hi, I love the way you write. I always feel excited when I find a place that is exactly how some random photo portrays it to be. I also know how beautiful some refreshing water is on a hot, humid day (I live in North Queensland, Australia) - that sheer rock face is pretty amazing. I was drawn to reading your post because I have been thinking about Taiwan as a destination. 👣🌍

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much!! Taiwan is such a great place to visit, and not a lot of people do. You would have an amazing time here!

      Delete
  17. Wow, you got some really beautiful photos! It sounds like you're enjoying exploring too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Exploring Taiwan is currently my No. 2 favorite thing to do (No. 1 being playing with my new Polaroid camera).

      Delete
  18. Gorgeous photographs - what a reward for your persistence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!! It was easy to be persistent because it was a lot of fun!

      Delete

Hover to Pin