The Kaohsiung Skyline

The overwhelming reason that I chose my apartment was the view of Kaohsiung.  I am very happy with the rest of my apartment but I still love the view.  I have a completely unblocked 180 degree view with the Pingdong mountains to the east, the 85 building to the south and Monkey Mountain to the west.  During the summer the air pollution (it’s bad) blows away and there are spectacular views of the city.  The only bad thing is that I typically am teaching during the evening and miss the sunset.  Here are the views from various times during the summer.

Sunrise to the east

The eastern view in the late afternoon

The blue hour

A common view to the south

Another common view to the south.

Kaohsiung gets 2 meters of rain each year.  Almost all of the rain falls between May-September.  The remainder of the year is a drought.

I think this is the only rainbow that I remember during my 5 years in Taiwan

Sunset

Sadly summer is ending and the air pollution will return stealing the sunsets.

Lost in the rain in Majia ( 瑪家)

I have known about this waterfall for 2 years and lately a friend has been teasing me with pics from his frequent trips back there.  I decided that I was going for a long motorcycle ride and check this one off of my long to do list.  Majia is a stunningly beautiful and mostly unknown mountain village near Sandimen.  Despite its enormous size Shalawan Waterfall rarely shows up on maps and I didn’t notice any signs for it.  I was even looking for the Chinese but I could have missed one.  There were about a dozen roadside waterfalls that were the location of many Moon Festival barbeques.

Sometimes I have problems finding stuff in the mountains since the roads rarely have names or numbers and signs are rarely in English.  Sometimes they don’t even have signs in Chinese.   I’m also a man which prevents me from asking for directions.  I went to the end of the three main roads that I found past Majia and Shalawan Waterfall eluded me this time.  At the end of one of the roads I found an interesting aboriginal slate house.  At the end of another I found a great hiking trail and the other ended at a great mountaintop camping spot.  It turns out that the slate house was pretty much the trailhead for Shalawan Waterfall so at least I know where I need to return to next time.

The most impressive of the road side waterfalls.

One of the ends that I explored was the Zhenlishan trail.  It doesn’t summit a great peak but in the rain today it was a stunning trail to hike.

That dark cloud basically summarizes my day in the mountains.  It rained and then it stopped.  And then it rained and then it rained until I reached the sunny

parts of the flat plain.  This was quite refreshing after a hot, humid summer though.

The trail was a pleasure to hike even in the rain.

I have always enjoyed walking in clouds.

It really was an easy trail to walk.

It was just one of those days.

Looking north towards Wutai before more rain came down.

todays rainfallI’m pretty sure that I was inside of one of the those red dots in southern Taiwan this afternoon.

Some links including a great Kickstarter project (Africa)

As a traveler you meet all sorts of people.  Some of these people go back to normal lives but others continue to live the dream.  Some us lead semi-normal lives while sometimes living the dream.  Even if you are not chasing down the latest adventure in an exotic country there is still an opportunity to live vicariously through those that do incredible writing, photography and videography.  Here are a few of the incredible independent travelers that I have been following recently.

Click image for kickstarter link

I haven’t actually met Francis Tapon but he’s a friend of friends.  He hiked the Pacific Crest Trail the year before I did and followed that up by exploring Eastern Europe for a couple of years.  After that he published an excellent book (Hidden Europe) about the history and current situation in each Eastern European country.  This time instead of writing about his travels he’s making videos to expand his audience.  He is planning on visiting all 54 African countries during the next 4 years.  Thishe wants to film a TV series about his travels.  The goal of his kickstarter project is to finance a professional level pilot that could turn into a TV series.  Below is a trailer for the pilot that describes why his particular show is important and what it offers that is different from the content that is currently out there.  There are 2 weeks left and he still needs to raise 3000 dollars.

These two Australians have been cycling all over Asia for more than a year and this is the twelfth short video that they have made about their travels.  Someday (when I have more time) I would like to add this type of videography to my travel blogging.  I love these videos and can never wait for the next one to be posted.

Out Of Order (hiker nickname) was someone that I seemed to always be near (20-50 miles) on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 but I think I only saw him once.  He set out on an ambitious adventure 2 years ago.  He kayaked from Minnesota to Louisiana to Florida to New York and back to Minnesota.  His trip is finished but it was an amazing feat and he told some amazing stories on his blog.  This is also worth checking out.  Link to Blog

We meet all sorts of people in our travels.  One of the best hiking resources in Taiwan just happens to be a concert pianist.  Richard performed at a concert hall in April and he has seven short youtube videos of his performance.

Photo of the week #46

Yesterday’s haul at the Jiuru farmers market.  700NT or 23USD and the cherries were 1/3 of the cost.  Everything except the apples and cherries are from Taiwan (I think).

We are getting 2-3 light rainstorms every day.  Just carry your raingear everywhere.

A trip home

I never intended to wait 4.5 years before returning home to Minnesota but it has been 4.5 years.  Some things have changed but many things remain the same.  Some things are the same but they are a complete shock to someone that has lived in Asia for a considerable amount of time.  The sound of silence exists here (even in the city/suburbs).  Giant open spaces create a sense of calmness that is rare in Taiwan.  There is a sense of order on the roads instead of a sense of chaos.  The grocery stores have everything that someone could want.  And the air is clean and breathable.  If I could change just one thing about Taiwan it would be the dirty air.

I ended up cutting the timing of my trip dangerously close to the winter that would never end but there has been absolutely awesome weather here for the last week.  It didn’t rain much until the last day and the temps have been perfect.  I have been a little frightened by the number of places using AC in the low 70’s (<25C) but I guess that is really hot or something.

Looking at my grandpa’s farm on the left.  The corn was just planted in the last couple of weeks and it won’t be long until it is a sea of green.

Grandpa’s old barn.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a time before the Internet.  You couldn’t just go out and read 100’s of product reviews in an evening.  Grandpa’s barn was in a sales book for a local construction company and perhaps an interested farmer would stop by and view the barn in person before building it himself.

This one isn’t quite in running order but old tractors are really cool despite the mega tractors roaming the fields now.  Every year they seem to get bigger and bigger.

One of my uncles operates a small sawmill.

Another one of my uncles perhaps has the coolest job ever.  He isn’t just a salesman.  He is a Harley-Davidson salesman at Faribault Harley-Davidson.

One of my stepbrothers has built an impressive print shop in Minneapolis.  They don’t just do the same digital printing done everywhere but instead they focus on high end paper (it feels wonderful) and nearly forgotten techniques of letterpressing, engraving, foil stamping and methods that I couldn’t even begin to understand.  Their work truly takes on a 3D feel due to the thickness of the paper and the print methods used.

For more info – Studio On Fire

The family farm at sunset.

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