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Trips

Taiwan4
March 5th - 1 April 2017


Japan6
October 16th - November 11th 2016


Europe
May 22nd - June 13th 2016


Japan5
November 2nd - November 26th 2015


Korea2
March 3rd - March 26th 2015

Even
More
Trips

HongJapWan
March 6th - March 28th 2014

Sichuan
March 23rd - April 10th 2013

Tokyo weekend
October 25th - October 30th 2012

China again
August 27th - September 13th 2012

Japan and Taiwan
March 1st - March 22nd 2012

China
November 1st - November 18th 2011

Korea, mainly...
September 3rd - September 17th 2011

Taiwan / Hong Kong / Singapore / ?
March 25th - April 11th 2011

London, for the third time
June 25th - July 17th 2010

Japan and Hong Kong
May 2nd - May 18th 2010

London again and Hong Kong
February 26th - March 25th 2010

London
September 5th - 22nd 2009

South East Asia
December 3rd - 18th 2005

A full lap of Taiwan in March 2017 - Page 9

Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Three moutain rest day

Yesterday was a big day in the mountains, tomorrow is my last full day here with probably more mountains, so as a rest day, I went and climbed 3 smaller mountains.
The area is called Pingxi, it is easy to get to by subway and bus, and like all Taiwanese towns in the mountains, its 'famous' for its old street. Signs will say 'Famous old street'.
You can actually catch the mountain train line to Pingxi, but it comes from the other side of the island, so you have to catch a train around the top of Taiwan, then transfer and head half way back to Taipei. It doesnt run frequently enough for me to want to do that, but if you were wanting to visit a few towns along the mountain line you can take that train and walk between them. It actually starts from the cat village I went to on my first day here.

My bus was full, I had to stand for the hour journey (in both directions), and it was a rollercoaster ride. If anyone can remember the movie speed, where they all had to move to one side of the bus to prevent it from tipping over going around a corner, thats what I was doing. The tyres were screeching.
I was relieved to get off.

Now the less dangerous part of the day, scaling 3 different peaks using ropes attached by a few old dudes who thought it might be a good idea to install ropes. Alarmingly, I saw lots of old ropes and metal poles that had fallen from the cliffs at various points in time. It was great!
Once again, I highly recommend a trip to Pingxi and climbing the three peaks. If you take it slow, anyone should be able to do it.

And as a sidenote, today is again the day for shops to burn bits of paper in the street and set up a table with fruit on it. This has to stop! The smoke is ridiculous. Ban it! Its not the dark ages anymore, stop burning crap all the time to appease the cloud monsters!

First, a breakfast update. I was very happy with non western breakfast. Tomorrow is something different again.


This is the bus stop at Pingxi, very conveniently it is right next to the trail. There is also a family mart convenience store for drinks.


I took a quick photo of the streets before setting off, knowing I would have time to explore the city when I came back down.


The very start of the trail is actually marked by a waterfall.


To get to the start of the 3 mountain trail area you walk up a very green valley, which is filled with plastic water pipes like all of Taiwan.


The valley becomes slippery moss covered steps, possibly the most dangerous part of the journey.


There are lots of mini shrines all around the place here. I could occasionally hear gongs ringing from the nearby temples, sending out the call to start burning more rubbish.


This spot signals the base area of the 3 trails, there were other people around, so if I did plummet off a cliff someone might inform the authorities.


2 of the 3 sets of rock stairs appear in this photo, now the fun begins.


Here is the third set of stairs. Now I had to choose which one first.


Is that really the way to the top? This looks a bit more dangerous than I was expecting.


I paused my ascent to zoom in and photograph the passing train.


Luckily the above photo (2 up) was not the way to the top, walking around the bottom of the rock revealed a much safer path.


The view from the top of the stairs up another of the peaks made me excited.


And there is peak number 3. So much fun to be had.


Looking back towards Pingxi, which is really just a small village. It seems to exist just for weekend tourists who want to eat a sausage on a stick.


I went back to the bottom along a different path, now it was time for the longest set of stairs, which started mossy.


From the top, I zoomed in on peak number one which I was just up. There are 2 other guys up there now.


And here is the remaining third peak. Time to head down and up again.


A good spot for one of these.


I climbed into a small grotto to show some more religious things that are all over the place here.


They even have little statues at the top, this is the top of peak 3. All peaks now conquered!


The ridge to the left was the long set of steps up peak 2, I came down that other set of steps in the side which was slightly perilous.


Lots of mountains. I wonder if you can climb them all? There is very little info on the 3 peaks park available online, just a couple of random blog posts. Maybe all of Taiwan is just ladders and steps up mountains. That would be great.


It was not very far, but it was very hard work. I was feeling sweaty. The other people were taking it really slowly, 5 steps then rest, 5 steps then rest. I never rest!
Clean shaven today, the white stuff is sunscreen running off my face. I hate sunscreen. Someone invent a once a year injection to replace sunscreen.


Now I just had to get back down. You can only do it by going down backwards. Maintain 3 points of contact at all times.


This cat followed me for quite some distance back towards the town. He lives in the temple.
A guy with a dog came in the other direction, dog and cat passed without even acknowledging each other.


Here is the historic Pingxi railway station. It looks like an ordinary station, but its historic, signs tell me so.


The main tourist activity here is lantern making. I think you stick a candle in them and they float into the sky? Then they crash into the forest and set it on fire.


Final photo, a view of the old street shopping area. Quiet on a week day, I suspect its very busy on weekends. The train line passes straight over the top, I missed the photo of the train going over because my camera memory card chose the worst possible time to advise me it was full! That never happened before.


The first repeat

Due to having a rest day of three mountains today, I needed a light dinner. So I headed to my first ever repeat dinner of my trip, to the excellent vegetarian buffet!
I know a lot of people would rather go hungry and die before they ate at a vegetarian buffet, but I like it a lot. Its also very cheap, I like that a lot too, its also pay by weight of food (not weight of person buying), I like that too. Actually I would also enjoy pay by weight of person but in Australia that would be illegal.

Before heading out to dinner, I had to plan my day for tomorrow, my last full day in Taiwan. It requires the subway, then 2 buses. I am reasonably confident of the timings to get to where I want to go, but I have many doubts that I will be able to get a bus back, which will add another 9km onto what is already going to be a long day!
Because of this detailed plan, tomorrow night I will not be needing to have a light vegetarian dinner due to lack of exercise, but I doubt I will break my all time step record from Puli.

Also, the photo of the kittens drawn on my hotel wall is here, by popular demand. Scroll to the bottom.

This is the local falun gong theatre. Not a lot of customers this evening. Not even one.


Over the road from the Falun Gong protest, we have an unidentifiable protest and or charity collection going, they have selected a spot in front of a brilliant blinding light so no one can see them at all.


And then just down the road, is the Taiwanese parliament, the police are just starting to set up road blocks.
When I was last in Taiwan, the student sunflower protest movement had occupied the parliament. Really, they barricaded themselves inside the place. Eventually school holidays were over and they all left (just like the Hong Kong protests) because good grades are more important than your cause.
I kind of think the whole 'Taiwan is the first place in Asia to allow gay marriage' thing is to stop the students from trying to overthrow the government again.


This is the nearby Museum of Taiwan. I had no idea it was there. It is not the very famous palace museum, its something different entirely.


Enjoy a photo of traffic. So many buses. All running to the worlds most confusing timetables. Most city bus stops have signs telling you when the bus is coming, so at leat you can wander off and do something else for that length of time, but out in the mountains, no idea. Could be 1 minute or 3 hours.


VEGETABLES, $3.


This years hoverboard, a scooter with pedals, and no seat. The sign says - no seat, no problem. I dont see how that could work.


My shoe is too big.


Taipei has a shoe street, nothing but shoe stores. This is part of it, they close early.


A bit more Ximending corner.


A massive crowd has assembled on this corner, and many of them are holding cakes. The group at the front are posing for a photo showing off their cake. Is it national cake appreciation day?


And yes, by popular demand, here is my hotel wall, with paintings of baby leopards. They are hand painted, I can see the pencil marks under the paint.
I recently learnt Taiwan had leopards, but they are now thought to be extinct. I think I saw one on my long lonely walk in Puli.


My room is full of little paintings, all featuring the baby leopards, and sometimes baby aborigines.
Hotels like this are common in Taiwan, I recall on my last trip I stayed somewhere where every room had a different baby art theme in Taichung. The art is always cute like this, cause lets face it, its done to appeal to women not men.


There are currently 3 comments - click to add
David on 2017-03-30 said:
Of course you can fly to Japan via Taiwan.

In fact most Cathay Pacific flights have to stop in Taiwan on the way from Hong Kong because of a weird rule about landing rights in Japan.

In 2016 there were 727 flights per week between Japan and Taiwan, to every single city in Japan, places like Sendai, Naha, Fukuoka, Niigata, Hakodate etc all have direct daily flights to Taipei.

mother on 2017-03-29 said:
Your hotel room appeals, dinner appeals and shoe street appeals. Definitely have to put Taiwan on the list. Can I fly to Japan via Taiwan?

mother on 2017-03-29 said:
Nice breakfast. Those are weird peaks, so tall and skinny. Wonder what sort of upheavals caused them?


Day 26 - Thursday, 30 March 2017

Ropes and ladders

Its my last full day in Taiwan, so its time for one last mountain! According to most people, its the greatest mountain possible to climb in a day trip from Taipei. Super excited I was.
Apparently the other name for this place is divorce mountain, because many wives have left their husbands because they took them here. Such is the reputation for the strenuous adventure causing divorces, guys who want to get a divorce now bring their wives here hoping they will get angry enough to want a divorce. Or mabye its a good place to make it look like an accident?

Some people say, to go to and from Wuliaojian in a single day using public transport and climb the long route is impossible. They are partially correct! There was no bus back for 3 hours, so as predicted last night, I had a long walk after completing the climb and descent.
That was ok with me, I am quite fond of walking.

However even getting there was confusing enough, first the easy part, the subway, then a bus to Sanxia, then another bus to the trail head.
There are lots of buses to Sanxia, I just got on any old bus that said that on the sign, turns out Sanxia is a big place, and it went nowhere near where the next bus departs from.
So I went from being nearly an hour early to only making my connecting bus by 10 minuntes.

No one got off at the hiking trail stop except me, but I was sure I was in the right place because there were about a hundred cars and scooters just abandoned at a random spot on the side of the road, and a small shop selling water and white gardening gloves.
Gloves were absolutely mandatory today, thankfully I always travel to hikes with gloves.

It was surprisingly busy, and very awesome. I want to go again. I dont think the photos will be great, because -
1. Pollution
2. I bumped my camera and switched settings and didnt notice for a while
3. Hard to take photos hanging from a rope!

Now I need to scrub my boots and remove all the mud, sweat and sunscreen from myself. When I arrived back at the hotel just now the reception girls were very concerned and asked if I needed a doctor, I think they assumed I had been in a fight, so it must have been a great day!
On a sad note, thats it, no more mountains, tomorrow afternoon I start the long trip home.

Todays breakfast, quite good again, featuring turnip cake. But tomorrows Chinese option is congee, so I will be back to a hot dog and chips. I might try and sneak out to a cafe without getting ushered into the breakfast room.


Sanxia city, where the hell is my bus stop?


There is a very busy local market, but I cant find the bus stop,


Luckily I found the bus stop, and got off at the right spot. Here is the shop selling white gloves, water, boiled eggs, and little tomatoes.


Immediately, ropes, up a cliff. Excellent.


You go near vertical for a few hundred metres, thats the road below.


More good ropes.


And still more ropes. Where the rope had frayed you can see there is actually wire inside.


A bit of a view back to Sanxia, and some powerlines.


More ropes and other people. They take it very slowly and are rugged up in winter jackets. Its near 30 degrees!


This is the top of the first part of the trail, theres another way down from here, but then its only about 1/4 of the way to the top, the real fun is just beginning!


Lots more ropes and cliffs to fall off, and people I need to get past. They were all very chatty today, I think there was at least one group of people all from the same company doing a bonding day.


The view back towards Taipei.


And the polluted view up the valley, towards Taoyuan where there airport is. If I had of bought my suitcase up the mountain I could of just kept going.


The formerly dangerous ridge walk is about to start. Its not dangerous anymore because a rope has been installed the whole way. I was kind of grateful.


This goes on for hundreds of metres, it was fantastic.


Selfie number one.


A bit more rope assisted ridge walk.


As you go over each mini peak there are more ropes to climb or scramble down. I guess if you let go of the rope you would hurt yourself badly, but I decided to not do that, and therefore I dont think it was particularly dangerous.


There are a couple of more challenging cliff faces, at one of them there was a young guy with two teenage girls, and the girls were falling, and laughing about it. Eventually I helped hoist them up to the rope, then climbed past them, them pulled the rope up, then repeated that with the other one.
They giggled the whole time.


The very last bit is ladders. I dont know why, I found these to be more dangerous than the ropes. The ladders were hanging from metal stakes you might get impaled on drilled into the rocks.


The view from the top, high pollution. It is not a hike about getting to a high altitude, its a hike where you enjoy pulling yourself up and lowering yourself down, for hours.


Good enough day to warrant a second selfie. I was sweating a lot.


The summit area is nothing special, but others were holding up signs they had printed. I assume this spot is on a list of 10 places every hiker must conquer, and you wont believe what happened next!


There is a much longer way down, and its highly encouraged to go that way so you dont double back and make people wait to climb up all the ropes, so I went that way. It was a far less technical path.


These cables are to haul construction equipment up to make the bases for the big power poles. So perhaps thats how they make the temples in the mountains? The top and bottom station of the construction cable car thing looked very temporary.


Nearly back down now.


I was looking for my bus to go past. Problem is I had no idea when it might come. Still I felt the need to go as fast as I could to reduce the chance of missing a phantom bus. All to no avail.


The long walk back to Sanxia featured this guy fishing in amongst the huge factories.


Factories included Foxconn. Their offices looked very modern, I dont think anything was being manufactured here, there were no suicide nets.


Once I got back onto the subway, I realised how filthy I was, and covered in scratches. A sure sign that a great day was had.


I was so dirty that no one sat near me on the subway.


And then as I arrived back at my hotel, parade time again! It seems all the streets are blocked for competing parades, heres one with a hello kitty speaker system car blasting out the latest pop hits as grandmas beat drums and offer prayers.


There are also hundreds of these giants wandering around in the middle of the road. I have no idea why but its causing traffic chaos. At least they arent burning anything.


Still time for more beef noodle

Tonight was possibly my last bowl of beef noodle soup for this trip. I say possibly because I recall on a previous trip I got to the airport many hours early and had a great bowl of it there, so that will probably happen.
I am also ashamed that I only have a few photos this evening, and they probably arent very interesting.

In exciting news, after spending 8 days on this trip in Taipei, and visiting on 3 previous trips, and realising theres still lots of things I would have liked to have done that I ran out time to do, that I will now raise Taipei to my top level of international cities (that was a long sentence). Taipei has officially replaced Osaka and is now in a tie with Tokyo for #1 place! Such a great honor.

Now for an update on the formal gown East Asian 9 ball championships, you might remember it was on in Taipei when I got here, 30 days ago, its still going! They are down to the last 8 contestants. The frocks are wonderful. The decorative pool cues glittering in the bright lights as the crowd goes wild.
The other thing I noticed on my channel surf through Taiwanese tv was women crying. Every single show is a woman crying. You have women crying in ancient China, women crying in the present day, and then women crying in space, followed by women crying in a post apocolyptic zombie land.
As for English language channels, they only show movies with giant robots fighting. I didnt know there were so many. Thats enough of a tv update.

In preperation for my departure, I spent the afternoon cleaning my boots, then myself. I cant get the mud out of the hotel bath mat I used to clean my boots, so they will wonder what the hell happened to it.
I am concerned that there seems to be a lot more room in my suitcase than when I came here.
And in exciting news, I have one pair of clean underpants left to put on tomorrow. I timed that last load of washing to perfection.

This is the hardware shop street. All the stores are wedged under an elevated highway. It literally goes for miles.


Heres some advertising bollards, all advertising colored pencils. I liked the colors of the colored pencils so I added a photo to my website to make it more colorful.


As I walked around this evening I started to notice giant hair dressing salons such as this one. There are lots of multi level ones similar to this. By law in Taiwan you must get your scooter and head serviced weekly.


I ate here on my first trip to Taiwan, it is called puppy risotto, now they have the actual puppy from their logo! I think the logo came first and they found a puppy to match?


About to be my soup.


My soup! I think it was the best yet. Amazing quality beef. This place also provided all the kinds of chilli, including the pickled eggplant side dish with lots of chilli. I like chilli.


There are currently 4 comments - click to add
on 2017-03-31 said:
I think its horse meat!

MoShengRen on 2017-03-31 said:
Any time there's burning involved, you can be sure it's an offering to the heavens. E.g. burning paper money to make sure your ancestors are well off in the after life.

Jenny on 2017-03-30 said:
What a relief - a clean pair of undies. Hope they don't have to go through your suitcase at the airport and find all the dirty ones.
Puppy risoto sounds a bit suss. Are you sure that was beef in your soup?

mother on 2017-03-30 said:
fabulous climb, but I'll give it a miss. I want to know the reason for all the parades and burning stuff. Will have to find a Taiwanese to ask.


Day 27 - Friday, 31 March 2017

Indeed more beef noodle

Now I am at Taipei Taoyuan international airport, waiting for my flight. As usual I am many hours early, not to worry, I am able to check in, and the Singapore Silver Kris lounge (their top tier thing is called silver kris not platinum kris) is actually very good.
They have full meals available and a great buffet.
Before that, I stopped at the airport food court as threatened and had a good bowl of beef noodle soup, for about $6, evidence below. Now there really wont be any more beef noodle soup.

Before that I rode the new subway line out to the airport, an express version of the service takes under half an hour and costs about $3. Great bargain.
Before that, I wandered around Taipei for a while, had too much coffee to spend my remaining money, and watched the weather roll in. I have timed my departure to perfection, it is now pouring with rain.
I hope its not raining to the point that my flight gets delayed because my transfer time in Singapore is only about 90 minutes.
Alarmingly, I tried to change my seat for the flight from Singapore to Melbourne, and they tried really hard but told me the plane was 104% full! So that might be an uncomfortable flight.

The funniest thing that happened today, I followed a guy onto the subway who scanned his ticket and tried to enter the wrong barrier, 3 times. Sirens were going off and he was getting mad as hell.
I tried to help him by showing he had to pass to the left of where he was scanning his ticket, not the right. Eventually he pushed through as someone was exiting from the other side of the barrier with the big red cross on it he was trying to enter.
Then he stands at the top of the worlds largest escalator, and lets go of his suitcase, which proceeded to plummet all the way to the bottom. Luckily the people below stood to one side as it passed them by.

Western breakfast, I will not miss you.


I did a mornings work before I left.


Then I still had time for a mass ribbon dance. I have been here on leaving day before, and I think the same old guy was giving the same kung fu class at this time 3 years ago.


A girl and her pet squirrel. These things are all over the park, they do not appear to be afraid of humans, however this human (me) is afraid of squirrels.


Final temple, in the peace park.


This is the Taiwanese parliament, the executive yuan as its called (I think). When I last visited you could not get this close to it, as I previously mentioned streets were closed for many blocks as students were living inside it refusing to let the soldiers in.


On the train now, and here comes the rain.


I had no idea these guys existed in Taiwan. They are in Korea and mainland China too.


The Taoyuan airport is huge, but too small. The check in area is completely overwhelmed. They have every single xray machine and customs desk open but there are still lines. I think there is a further expansion plan but they only just finished the last expansion.


THE FINAL BOWL OF BEEF NOODLE SOUP!


And this is where I am sitting right now, guarding the buffet in the silver kris lounge.


I couldnt resist a bit more cake and some cookies.


There are currently 2 comments - click to add
chock on 2017-04-01 said:
epic trip ^rad^, good read, I still don't understand Taiwan

David on 2017-04-01 said:
I am home.
No more updates.
Even thought the flight was totally full, it was perfectly comfortable, and quite short, under 7 hours from Singapore to Melbourne.


Contents

Day 1 - Sunday, 5 March 2017
  Late night early morning flight
  Totally full and uncomfortable
  The boring photos continue
  The unprecendented 4th update
Day 2 - Monday, 6 March 2017
  Raining cats
  There are lots of Koreans in Japanese Taiwan
Day 3 - Tuesday, 7 March 2017
  One down
  Major rain no dampener
Day 4 - Wednesday, 8 March 2017
  Coat day
  Tomorrow is all new
Day 5 - Thursday, 9 March 2017
  Crap photos featuring trains
  Third world footpaths
Day 6 - Friday, 10 March 2017
  Engorged
  Surprise carnival
Day 7 - Saturday, 11 March 2017
  Cement factory rubbish dump beach
  Department store rain shelter
Day 8 - Sunday, 12 March 2017
  Cloudview
  Dry trip to station
Day 9 - Monday, 13 March 2017
  Far from station
  Footpath observance
Day 10 - Tuesday, 14 March 2017
  Rocky start
  Full of cake
Day 11 - Wednesday, 15 March 2017
  Museum run
  Lost in the swamp at night
Day 12 - Thursday, 16 March 2017
  Animal kingdom
  Bigger and brighter
Day 13 - Friday, 17 March 2017
  Razor wire defeat
  Accidental dream mall
Day 14 - Saturday, 18 March 2017
  So many gift shops
  Steak night
Day 15 - Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Sweating profusely
  Needed more time
Day 16 - Monday, 20 March 2017
  4 down 3 to go
  The old and the new
Day 17 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017
  Fort washing machine
  Chicken tower
Day 18 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  The museum cheap electric fans paid for
  Surprise parade
Day 19 - Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Next town over
  The modern north side
Day 20 - Friday, 24 March 2017
  Mountain village metropolis
  A quick run up a small mountain
Day 21 - Saturday, 25 March 2017
  Huge number of steps
  Ritual sacrafice
Day 22 - Sunday, 26 March 2017
  Lake saturation
  Global mormon offensive
Day 23 - Monday, 27 March 2017
  Final destination
  The best beef noodles in Taipei?
Day 24 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017
  Windy teapot
  Best ramen ever
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017
  Three mountain rest day.
  The first repeat
Day 26 - Thursday, 30 March 2017
  Ropes and ladders
  Still time for more beef noodle
Day 27 - Friday, 31 March 2017
  Indeed more beef noodle