There was a sultry air hanging over the Four Beasts this morning, almost as if spring had passed by in the blink of an eye and summer had arrived. For the first time, I was able to capture a close-up of a butterfly along a hillside trail. A symbol of hope for the future perhaps. Or more likely just a lucky break. Continue reading Notes from the field: a sultry air hanging over the Four Beasts
A couple of views of Leopard Mountain from my morning hike in the Four Beasts Scenic Area. I took them from the YongChunPi Wetland Park (永春陂生態濕地公園), a former military camp that is being converted into an ecological zone. Very impressive work by the Taipei City Government.
It’s quite amazing how much progress has been made in improving the quality of life in the city over the past twenty-five years. The construction of the subway has of course played an important part in this process, but so too has the imaginative urban planning that has complemented it. Holistic is a horribly overused adjective to describe this kind of approach, but in the case of Taipei I think it’s appropriate. Officials of other cities looking to improve mobility and livability in dense urban environments can learn a lot from the work that has been done here. Continue reading Notes from the field: views of Leopard Mountain
I was greeted by the traditional cacophony of fire crackers heralding the first day of work after the Lunar New Year Holiday when I reached the office this morning. As is the custom, people gathered to express their wishes for a healthy and prosperous Year of the Rat as they gave their offerings and prayers to the deities and spirits. Given how ominously the new year has started, let’s hope that they were listening!
Over the holiday, I spent quite a bit of time reading a pile of articles and reports purporting to predict the key technology trends that will have the deepest economic and social impact over the next decade. What struck me most about them was their startling lack of originality. It’s almost as if they were written from the same set of talking points prepared by the marketing department of a silicon vendor for time-pressured journalists and journalists. Yes, yes, we get it. 5G is going to be revolutionary and disruptive. So too is, AI, IoT, VR, AR, and a host of other new technologies… Of course, they’re going to transform the way we live. Continue reading Notes from the field: the next big thing?
Taipei’s still pretty quiet even though the Lunar New Year holiday finishes tomorrow. I suspect that a lot of people will take Thursday and Friday off and return to work next Monday.
I’ve been spending most of my break pounding the pathways of the Four Beasts Scenic Area while working my way through the wonderful back catalog of In Our Time podcasts hosted by the inimitable Melvin Bragg. I know I’m not the first person to remark on this, but the AirPods that came with my new iPhone have given me a greater appreciation of the power of the spoken word and led me to read less and listen more. Continue reading Notes from the field: pounding the pathways of the Four Beasts
Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat! Let’s hope it improves quickly after such an inauspicious start in China.
Our Lunar New Year’s Eve celebrations were low-key, mainly I suspect because all our kids have grown up so there was none of the previous excitement that accompanied the distribution of red envelopes filled with shiny new notes. The food, on the other hand, was great. That’s one tradition that never changes no matter who is present. Continue reading Notes from the field: Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat!
There’s been a bustling air pervading Taipei’s street markets this weekend as people flock to get their provisions in preparation for the forthcoming Lunar New Year celebrations. Forget the city’s luxury shopping malls; the streets where the real action is: the cut and thrust of the haggling over prices and the excited voices and smiling faces of vendors and shoppers alike who both think they’ve got the best of the bargaining.
Will people still go out on the streets to shop when they can order everything they could possibly want or need using their smart phones and have it delivered to their doorstep – or perhaps even neatly placed in their refrigerator or closets? A lot of investors and entrepreneurs are betting that this will be the case by pouring billions into last-mile on-demand grocery and meal services. Continue reading Notes from the field: bustling Taipei street markets
There’s nothing like a long and invigorating hike to clear the mind and take stock of the week. This morning I walked from my usual starting point at the Four Beasts Scenic Area (四獸山市民森林碑) behind the Houshanpi MRT station to the Beixingbao Temple (北星寶宮). From there I took the Xiangshan Circular Trail down to Elephant Mountain and back into the city.
The views of Taipei and the surrounding mountains were spectacular. The temples along the way also provided myriad visual treats. I feel so grateful to live in this wonderful place where the peace and tranquility of nature are less than half-an-hour away. Continue reading Notes from the field: an invigorating hike to clear the mind
I’m not sure why it took me nearly three decades, but this was the year I discovered the pleasures of hiking in Taiwan. Isn’t it amazing how easy it can be to ignore things that are right on your doorstep? That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
On your doorstep isn’t exaggerating too much either if you live in Taipei. In less than half-an-hour by bus and MRT I can go from home to my favorite stomping ground of Tiger Mountain in the Four Beasts Scenic Area (四獸山). This offers a huge variety of routes to choose from depending on your fitness and lots of great views to enjoy – not to mention lots of interesting temples to stop by at. Continue reading 2019 highlights: discovering the pleasure of hiking in Taiwan
One of the great delights of hiking around the Four Beasts Scenic Area (四獸山) is that there are lots of smaller pathways to follow that take you away from the main trails deeper into the lush vegetation covering the mountainside.
This morning I happened along this delightful little shrine when I took a different route down the mountain before arriving at a nearby temple. There are in fact, a lot of temples in the Four Beasts dedicated to an eclectic array of Buddhist, Daoist, and other Chinese deities. One day, I keep telling myself, I’ll be able to identify all of them… Continue reading Notes from the field: exploring multiple pathways
A pleasure to return to the Four Beasts Scenic Area this morning, even though my lungs and legs took a little time to readjust to the demands of climbing after a couple of weeks of pounding along flat fenland lanes.
One reason I enjoy hiking at the Four Beasts is the strong community spirit among the people who hit its trails. It’s always nice to be greeted by a friendly smile from someone I meet along the way and fun to watch groups of friends and neighbors exercise together at various spots on the hillside. The community spirit is even stronger at the nearby Yucheng Park. This morning the place was packed with people doing Taichi together. What a perfect way to start the day! Continue reading Notes from the field: a morning hike in the Four Beasts Scenic Area