At it again

It may be hard to start anew, but we often forget the lessons of the past and are thus allowed to move forward with more rewarding mistakes. I am "at it again" writing this blog, which begins in in December because I accidently erased it. I am "at it again" living abroad because I I erased from my memory the continous miscommunication and confusion of it. Luckly you can sit back in the comforts of your native language and culture and enjoy my adventures, hopefully with a laugh or snicker.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Heated Hiking

So I guess my last hike was not actually the last in Taiwan. The weather is still brutal, but I've gotten used to it a bit and since we only have 2 more weeks here, we simply had to get out and see a few of the things still on the list. Even though staying inside in the air-con sounded like a good plan for Sunday, Colin and I took the trip down the East coast to RuiFeng. They have a small rail train there that runs up through several towns in the hills. The train was not as cool as we thought it would be. Train buffs think the train is exceptional, but if you don't love trains it seems just like any other. We did have many children interested in us and our presence in this out of the way tourist sight and an old man who came on the train with two bags balanced over his shoulder on a pole. We bought some rice cakes from him.
rice cake- chomp!

We rode the train to the last stop and got off. The main attraction was the remains of a coal mine closed in the 70s. From the looks of it you would think it was closed in 1870. That took only about 20 minutes and then we went off to find a hike. Like all travels I've gone on in Taiwan there was not a lot of great signs and our map was a 10 year old's interpretation of the area. We ended up walking on the highway for some time and I was working to make myself satisfied with that and then we found the trail. It was a typical Taiwanese trail meaning that it was all stairs that went straight up to the destination. When we got near the peak the steps became notches carved into the rock with ropes to help you up.Up the stairs down I thought this was the most precarious peak I'd ever climb without a safety harness until we came to the next peak. By that time I was pretty tired, but while we were deciding whether to go up or not this couple in their late 60s or early 70s came down from the second peak. We asked them how it was and they said it was easier than the one we had just climbed down from and that it would only take a half hour. Xiaozi mountain

I think it took less than 30 minutes, but it wasn't easy. When we came to the final stretch we had to wait for those at the top to come down. Then we climbed up some steps carved in the rock to a metal ladder. There was a ladder because there was a deep crevice on either side. Had I slipped it would have been a long way down. After the ladder there were more, near-vertical carved steps. I got to the top, but part of me wished I hadn't because getting up meant getting down. There were statues of Guanyin at the top and I kissed one before going down again. Colin teased that I had actually just kissed the god of wrath, a joke he could have saved for after we got off the peak. In the end we made it with no problem and I'm proud of Taiwan for making such a perilous climb. As Colin pointed out these are the peaks that in the US you might see at a national park and think, "that would be cool to get up to," but you wouldn't be allowed.From up looking down

We finally got back on a train and decided to skip the other sight, waterfalls. Unfortunately our train didn't go all the way to the end of the line and turned around before we figured it out. We got off at the next stop and figured out that we would have to wait another hour. Luckily we were right next to the river. river frontWe followed a family down and Colin read while I soaked my feet (what I had wanted of the trip all along) and watched a family of nine- dad, mom and 7 naked kids, play in the water.