When I first began hiking the trails of the Four Beasts, I generally wore my trusty AirPods to listen to podcasts and audio books. Nowadays, I don’t even bother to bring them with me because I have come to prefer taking in the sounds of the birds and animals in the surrounding bushes and trees. What a difference a year makes!
Looking back, I suspect that one of the reasons I kept my AirPods on was to shield myself from the unfamiliar physical grind of slogging up step after concrete step. I also view it as a sign that I was not quite mentally ready to embrace the challenge. It was only as I became more confident in my fitness and strength that I was able to throw off my AirPod shackles so to speak and open myself up to the full experience of simply being on the mountainside. Continue reading Notes from the field: throwing off my AirPod shackles
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Let’s hope that 2021 turns out to be better than 2020.
If there is one thing we should have learned from last year, it is the importance of taking much greater control of our personal wellbeing. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for remaining healthy. We cannot rely on overburdened medical services and miracle vaccines to get everything back to some resemblance of normal. Although they can help mitigate the impact of viruses like Covid-19, not even the greatest doctors and drugs can do much to resolve underlying problems such as growing levels of obesity across the world. Continue reading Notes from the field: a happy and healthy new year!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! It’s quite a relief to be able to take a short break after such a long and hot summer, particularly as the weather has decided to join in with the holiday spirit. The air was cool and fresh on the Four Beasts this morning and the views of Taipei under the clear blue skies were amazing. Here’s hoping that the weather forecast for the next few days stays true to its word.
On the subject of forecasts, I’m not sure I want to be in the business of making ones about the economy given the crazy times we’re living in, but what I will say is that we are seeing a rapid growth of interest in our VIA Mobile360 in-vehicle systems in China, Taiwan, the US, and the UK. Even though the hype about autonomous vehicles has abated, interest in adopting AI, Computer Vision, and Cloud technologies for transportation safety, fleet management, and new mobility services continues to accelerate. Continue reading Notes from the field: Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
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
Cooler again on the Four Beasts this morning. Fresher, too, thanks to the overnight rain, though that meant a few slippery spots to negotiate on the way down. A timely reminder that no matter how well you think you know something, you must never become complacent. There will always be nasty surprises somewhere along the way.
The same rule applies of course to all aspects of life. Just as you think everything is going fine, an unexpected problem or issue occurs that even the most sophisticated AI prediction tools didn’t see coming. The key is to be able to pick yourself up from any setback as quickly as possible rather than wallowing in the unfairness of it all. Continue reading notes from the field: preparing for nasty surprises
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
Perhaps I was just imagining it, but the temperature on the climb up Jiuwufeng was slightly cooler than usual this morning. Here’s hoping that this marks the end of what has been an extremely hot summer this year in Taiwan. Let’s see. Thank goodness for air conditioning – quite possibly the greatest invention in human history.
I assume that the weather must be nice and cool at Cuifeng Lake (翠峰湖), another of the main attractions in the Taipingshan National Forest Area (平山國家森林遊樂區). About a forty-five minute drive from Taipingshan Villa, this is the defined as the largest high-mountain lake in Taiwan. During the rainy season it can reportedly cover an area of up to 25 hectares – though it was a lot smaller than that when we visited it. Continue reading Notes from the field: Cuifeng Lake in Taipingshan
We’ve been very lucky that we’ve had very few restrictions to our daily lives in Taiwan as a result of Covid19, apart from the very minor inconvenience of having to wear masks on public transport. The biggest change for me has been the lack of international travel. I can’t remember the last time I’ve spent more than four months in one place without having to step on a plane.
Not that I’m complaining about that. The reverse in fact. It feels good to have much greater control of my schedule rather than having it governed by the demands of the next flight. So much of my time and energy was spent on traveling or preparing for trips that I put a lot of personal and business issues on the backburner. The past few months in Taiwan have given me the chance to address them. Continue reading Notes from the field: a regular exercise regime
My last weekend in Taipei for a while, assuming of course that Embedded World 2020, Work Truck Show 2020, and CONEXPO-CON/AGG go ahead as planned.
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