Call me unoriginal, but I love the month of October. Dan asked me to be his girlfriend six Octobers ago; he proposed a lifetime together only two back. Octobers bring things like the state fair and deep-fried snicker bars, pumpkin spiced everything, and the perfect weather for scarves and boots and blazers. And although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, October in Taiwan has amplified my love for this fall month.
I think that if it could be October year-round, I would never ever want to leave. I do realize that it is actually November now, but luckily the clear blue skies, decrease in humidity, and cooler weather have stuck around–without adding all the rain just yet. We’ve been quite busy over here, so here is a quick review of the past month (including a bit of November). If you live in or around Hsinchu, there are lots of great day trips here! We apologize in advance for cramming all this Taiwan-goodness into one post when, quite honestly, each subheading could be an article in itself!
Motorcycling in Miaoli County
We started the month off by packing our bags and heading into the mountains. While I’m pretty sure we exceeded the 5kg weight limit on the cargo rack, we successfully made it out of the city and into we’re-not-exactly-sure-where. We had intended on actually trekking with our bags up a mountain, but ended up finding an idyllic and secluded location to set up our tent just outside the trailhead for the Smangus Trees (really big, old trees). Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see the trees before the sunset, but we did manage to do a bit of hiking through the mountains first.
This quaint spot outside Hsinchu offers lots of places to cycle, stroll, or drink tea while enjoying the views of the lake and massive Buddha. You might remember our previous picture of the statue taken from afar, so here’s a closer look.
This Halloween, Dan and I were a little bit lame and decided to skip all the parties and festivities. However, we did get our fair dose of celebration. Dan’s Pre-ESL class did Halloween crafts while at Kindy I took my students trick-or-treating at a nearby department store. Are they not adorable?!
Bike Riding Houli
Bike riding is hugely popular in Taiwan right now. We’re hoping to take advantage of all the cross-island paths sometime before we leave (update: read about our east coast cycling experience here!), but until we get the time we are forced to stay a little closer to home. Houli is about 45 minutes south of Hsinchu via train. It offers a nice–but very crowded–bike path that is about 18km long and passes a winery, farmland, and lots of cafes and restaurants. We were impressed by the winery for its quaint grounds and interesting selection of mostly sweet fruit wines. Be prepared for selections like mulberry, plum and onion. Yes, onion wine, apparently their best-seller.
Italian Opera and American Fireworks
October 10th is Taiwan’s Double Ten Day, or National Day, celebrating the birth of the Republic of China. As part of the festivities, Miaoli was hosting a month of free concerts and fireworks. We stopped by for the Alessandro Safina concert, and were blown away by the talent of the opera singer we had never heard before. We suggest checking out his song Luna. Following the concert was a fireworks display from an American team. It was an enjoyable evening and 100% free.
Long Dong is hands down our favorite place in Taiwan. It draws climbers from around Taiwan and even throughout Asia for its isolated climbing on sandstone crags up to 70m in height. There are over 500 routes, with options for sport climbs, trad, deep water solo and bouldering. Even though my climbing skills aren’t quite up to par with Dan’s awesomeness, I absolutely love Long Dong for it’s breathtaking views. Seriously, does it get much more beautiful than this? Okay, well, maybe this.
Last time we were in Beipu it was to try our hand at pounding out traditional Leicha. This time was just an excuse to walk around and take some pictures on a beautiful day. The highlight was successfully finding BK, a remote bakery in the mountains that makes ah-mazing bread, with options like apricot apple and whole grain blueberry. The best part? They deliver to Hsinchu, free of charge!
So there you have it. The past month and a half-ish in 31 pictures. And since you made it all the way to the bottom, here’s a bit of extra news for ya! A Cruising Couple was recently chosen as one of Taiwan’s best travel blogs by Easyvoyage UK :-) Check out their site for a lot of great information from local bloggers around the world, and don’t miss what they have to say about us!