As for me, diving into Taiwanese stories was all about getting a better understanding of this peculiar island I chose to call home for a year (and beyond). Reading is a way to apprehend a whole new world, and in this case, it allowed me to understand the debates, the traditions, and this culture so far different from mine. Reading as a way to embrace this island’s contradictions.
Moi, là-dedans, je m’amusais de plus en plus avec mon vélo Hello Kitty à Hualien, avec cette idée de tour de Taiwan qui me démangeait de plus en plus. Il faut avouer que ça me faisait flipper, de partir sur les routes à vélo comme ça pendant plusieurs semaines : j’ai même jamais fait de randonnée de plus de 4 jours ! Alors j’ai trouvé un compromis avec moi-même : j’allais pédaler la côte Est de Taiwan. De Taitung à Hualien.
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…?
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.
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.