Two magnificent hikes up Jiuwufeng this weekend. While I wouldn’t say that I actually flew up the mountainside, I made the best times I’ve ever recorded of around thirty-five minutes from the Four Beasts entrance to the summit. Perhaps Malcolm Gladwell is right about his ten thousand hours theory – at least when it’s applied to activities like hiking that require discipline and determination rather than any innate talent. I’m yet to be convinced that it is equally valid for more ethereal pursuits like writing.
On the trail this morning I found myself thinking about how my critical decision points along it have changed. In the first half of the year, I would always debate whether to continue up to the top of Jiuwufeng or turn right and skirt the hillside past a couple of charming little temples to either Tiger or Leopard Mountain. These days, I go right past it with barely a thought and head straight up to the summit of Jiuwufeng. Continue reading Notes from the field: decision points on the Four Beasts trail→
Definitely a tad cooler on the Four Beasts this morning – though not enough to prevent me from sweating buckets for most of the hike. Even after thirty years in Taiwan, my body has never quite been able to adjust to the humid climate.
Today’s hike took me up to Jiuwufeng and then on to Elephant Mountain. Between the two peaks is a delightful little shrine nestled below Muzhi Mountain. It’s dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, and a host of other Buddhist and Daoist deities. Many people stop there to pray with an incense stick before going on their way. It’s one of my favorite spots along the trail. Continue reading Notes from the field: from Jiuwufeng to Elephant Mountain→
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’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→
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→
If you’re flying from Taipei to a major city in China, Japan, or South Korea, Songshan Airport is far closer and more convenient than the main one in Taoyuan. The check-in, security, and immigration processes usually take me less than fifteen minutes thanks to the lower number of flights that go from there and the cheerful and friendly staff.
I’m glad that I managed to get back home from an afternoon excursion to Guandu before a big thunderstorm hit the city. Compared to southern Taiwan, Taipei has got off reasonably lightly during the recent spate of monsoon rains, but the one we had today seems to have tested the limits of the city’s drainage system– though perhaps not quite a severely as the intrepid reporters the TV stations send out into the streets might want us to believe!
After my bus ride home this evening, I can’t help thinking that autonomous vehicles can’t come soon enough! Don’t get me wrong, the public bus service in Taipei is excellent for the most part. I have a choice of three nearby lines that can zip me down Dunhua South Road, up on the elevated highway to Xindian, and down to a stop nearby office in less than half-an-hour at rush hour – all for the princely sum of NT$30 ($1).
More Taipei-hotel-induced nostalgia last night. This time at the Howard Plaza Hotel, where my wife and I got married over a quarter of a century ago. My memories of the ceremony and accompanying banquet are hazy, though I do recall her looking stunning as she walked through the ballroom in a gorgeous red dress. That was just one of series of dresses that she had to change into during the evening. No wonder she was so exhausted by the end of it!