When you decide to go on a bicycle travel trip, for a long period of time or not, you kind of face the same old fears that when you decided to go backpacking for the first time… ‘How do I pack my bag in a smart way’, ‘which itinerary should I follow’, ‘which gear should I buy’, ‘how could I avoid selling my kidneys to replenish my bank account’, and the same old ‘how do I stay alive while travelling the world?’ (yeah, I did ask myself that one more than once), in other words how to achieve your traveling goals, and in that case, on a bicycle…?
He’s taking me on his motorbike to show me the city. I’m getting kicked in the face by Ho Chi Minh City. When I first arrive in a new country, there’s always at least a little bit of cultural shock. I’m trying to grab the meaning, the direction, the movement of lives, of people. It’s not as much of a surprise because I read about Vietnam. I’ve seen so many pictures and movies.
But right now, on Alessio’s motorcycle, that’s a whole different story: I’m experimenting Vietnam through a complex range of sensations.
There are many bicycle routes in and around Hualien that will allow you to discover beautiful vistas of the East Coast but also countryside neighbourhoods, hiking trails, and waterfalls.
For a long time, I was only ordering one thing on the menu: the no name noodles. That’s the only line I would memorize from the menu (obviously only written in Chinese): 無名麵 (Wúmíng miàn) – 60$. As a consequence, we would also call the restaurant this way: the no name noodles restaurant.
It’s also about an indigenous tribe and its very own peculiar culture, it’s about a nuclear waste facility that’s disturbing the landscape as well as the heart of its inhabitants. It’s about politics and history, about people and rocks and the sea.
There are several warning signs along the way about the Black Bears of Taiwan (as well as snakes, wasps, leeches and rock slides) and it’s starting to get on my nerves all those stories about deadly animals, to the point where I completely overreact and jump with fear at the sight of… a bird flying away. So long for my cold sweat followed by my laughter.