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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Huffington Post Meets Taiwan Cycling: Michael Turton Writes A Gem

Michael Turton, a man I consider one of the keystones of Taiwan's blogging community, an excellent riding companion, and a good friend, has written a magnificent piece about biking in Taiwan for the Huffington Post.

What is riding Taiwan? Taiwan is going a thousand meters up a massive mountain in a single morning, and buying drinks from scantily-clad betel nut girls in their roadside stalls. Taiwan is piercing curls of smoke on a rolling dawn as the farmers burn off their fields, and speeding past the stink of mud and trash oozing from the muck of a canal next to the ocean. Taiwan is a landslide in the road and a viper lounging alongside it. Taiwan is bantering with the old women selling water and steamed buns on a chill winter morn, and exchanging hellos with farmers spraying fruit trees in the fading light of a summer's eve. Taiwan is gliding into the local fishing port for sashimi, and lapping up the last few klicks to the only noodle stand for a hundred leagues. Taiwan is looking down on the lovely Liyu Reservoir and peering up at the terrifying landslide scarp at Jiufen Ershan. Taiwan is riding next to chasms as deep as geological eras, and hearing the whistle of teapots in houses far above filling the mountains as a crisp dawn cracks across the peaks with forty kilometers of desolate mountain road in front of you. Taiwan is.

For me the article is extra special as the experiences he writes about are also my experiences. Michael and I have biked thousands of kilometers together and each kilometer is full of everything that IS Taiwan and everything that is friendship.

Only a person who is deeply attached to this land can really express it in words like Michael has done.

Taiwan is, like most places, a country of complexities, paradoxes and pluralities. When you live here a while, and even more so, when you experience it by bike, you come to see some of the beauty in the burning, the trash and chaos of the roads. It is not a fascination with the "strange" and "exotic". It is an appreciation of the nuanced complexity of life and lives going on. It is also an appreciation of being a part of it all for as little time as it may be. Biking in Taiwan is living.

Please follow the link and enjoy this piece and Michael's wonderful pictures.


  1. As a Taiwanese-American, I've always noticed how incredibly attached my parents and relatives feel (much like Michael and you do) to the land of Taiwan. I guess it is in the Taiwanese psyche. Personally, I've always been struck by the juxtaposition of immense historical tragedy with natural beauty that Taiwan represents. To some it may be nothing more than a proxy for "authentic Chinese culture" or a pawn in the game of geopolitics, but there are many that appreciate Taiwan on its own terms and care for its history, its people, its land, and its future.