Saturday, August 20, 2016

a scooter tour of Taiwan

I have a lot of Taiwan to blog about. My friend's visit in early July was so much fun, and my favorite thing that we did was scoot to Sheipa National Park. This was my third visit to the park, but a first for my husband and obviously for my friend. This made our scoot adventure unlike any other, at least for me. 

You see, normally I am the follower. I have a terrible sense of direction and do not trust myself to navigate my way from point A to B (especially in a foreign country, even Taiwan). However, I also forgo modern conveniences that make navigation much easier like a smartphone, which makes everything a little more complicated. On this scoot adventure, I had to navigate because I was the only one who knew where we were going and we had no smartphone to help guide us. I shocked myself when we made it to the top of Sheipa because we didn't take a single wrong turn. 

I was pretty proud of myself considering that we drove 3 hours straight just to get to the literal end of the road in Sheipa. 

If I'm being honest, the drive itself is actually pretty simple. From Hsinchu, we drove along a highway to the next town over, Jhudong. Jhudong can be tricky for me. There is a 3-way fork in the road and a maze that follows no matter which fork you choose. Luckily, anyone with eyes can see the towering mountains from the fork so it's actually pretty easy to choose the right direction. The road continues for hours. It's essentially a single lane, poorly maintained mountain road. As it winds higher and higher, the villages become further spaced apart and more rudimentary. In some areas, the roads are newly paved due to land slides. In other areas, the road is nothing more than dirt and planks. Typhoons and earthquakes make road maintenance rather futile. 

As there were literally three turns to get there, I am not sure why I was so worried that we would get l-o-s-t. I think I just really wanted to show my friend (and Sean for that matter) this beautiful gem tucked way up in the mountains. 

Before entering the park, we had to register with the park ranger. Every time I've gone to Sheipa, the park ranger has been so concerned about us waiguorens (foreigners) taking our scooters up into the wilds of the national park. They remind us that there is no gas station, that the roads are very dangerous, that the weather can change suddenly and that we should not- under any circumstances- try to scoot back down in the dark. 

Even other random Taiwanese drivers on the road stop to check in with us to make sure we're okay as we make our way up the mountain. I will admit that most of the people on scooters appear to be locals dropping people off or doing business. Most Taiwanese visitors from the city drive their cars to Sheipa, so I guess seeing us scooting to the top is a bit surprising. 

But I cannot think of a better way to see Taiwan than from the back of a scooter. There is something so wonderfully fun about zipping through the mountains on a scooter. You can stop to dip your toes in a waterfall or to take a picture without even having to get off your scooter. You can pull up along side a stand selling peaches and buy a whole box, once again without even having to get off your scooter. You can stop on the side of the road and literally watch and feel a cloud envelop you and you scooter and scooting friends. 

Before I moved to Taiwan, I had this vision of myself riding around Taiwan on a scooter. I was so adventurous and carefree and happy. In my vision, I was also wearing a stunning green dress. Besides that last part, I am happy to say that reality is even better than my fantasy. 

I know it may sound silly, but my scooter is a part of me, and I could not be the person I am now without it. And I was so glad to show my friend a little piece of myself and Taiwan that she had never seen before. 
Stay tuned for more Taiwan!

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