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Monday, October 30, 2017

the roads that lead to wufeng

If you had eight consecutive hours of legitimate free time three days a week, how would you spend it? I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that often times this is how I spend mine: scooting through the mountains of Taiwan with my camera hanging around my neck. 

Frankly, I am not entirely sure what else I should be doing with that time. 

Take and moment and put yourself in my shoes -- every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, instead of going to work, you get to play from 9-5. What do you do? How would you play? 

Before anyone suggests it, I can't sit at home in my underwear and binge watch TV or read or blog because our nanny is there taking care of Ruby, and anyway, I can do all of those things every night after the baby goes to sleep or the other days of the week our nanny doesn't come.

I am not a big money spender, so aimlessly shopping or wandering the mall is definitely out. I don't really enjoy going to restaurants or to the movies by myself, so those are out as well. All of my good friends here except for one are teachers who work during the day, so they are out too. 

I guess I could be keeping busy doing chores and running all kinds of errands, but that seems like a cop out for someone who is not creative enough to find better things to do because there are always better things to do -- plus, for me, this gift of time is not infinite. In late February, it's back to the daily grind for me. 

It started off simple enough-- this little past time of mine. It was a beautiful summer day after Sean had started work again, and I wanted an adventure. No one could adventure with me, so I scooted solo somewhere I knew well: Beipu. There was no way I could get lost, and Sean knew exactly where I was in case something happened (for example, if I was eaten by a rogue Taiwanese Mountain Dog or some other similar situation occurred).

Then, my curiosity got the best of me and I found myself returning to familiar places and roads looking for unfamiliar places and roads. Signs like this old, fading one tempted me greatly, and I found myself driving down roads that are not even on Google Maps. 

At first, I was a little timid in my exploration. I would find a new road and scoot for only 15 minutes down it before turning around, but over time, I got braver and more curious and would follow new roads until they ended or led to other newer roads or became so dilapidated I worried about my scooter breaking down.

Today, after four months of these solo scoot adventures, I genuinely think that I know more of Hsinchu County and Miaoli County than 99 percent of the locals who have lived here their entire lives.

My greatest victory has been finding the three roads that lead to the remote, indigenous, mountainous township of Wufeng. The green, jagged mountains that lead to Wufeng are by far the greatest nature & scenery that Taiwan has to offer, and I find myself returning again and again just to sit for a while in the gazebos and temples lining the road. My other victory was finding perhaps the most remote and amazing coffee house in Taiwan at the top of a random mountain that has gorgeous views and pretty great coffee too.

Maybe this seems like a huge waste of time to some people or overly indulgent, but I have to tell you that there is little that can compete with scooting through the mountains of Taiwan on a beautiful, crisp fall day while listening to Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams album.

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