Two things in life inspired me to traverse Taiwan with an underpowered (according to the Big Bike guys) motorcycle.
Apart from the winding, climbing strip of tarmac, the Keelung River is about the only thing the two ends of the scenically beautiful Hsichih (汐止) to Pingsi (平溪) Highway (known as the Hsiping Highway 汐平公路) has in common.
Recent tensions between Taiwan and Japan over the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands remind us that relations between the two neighboring island nations have by no means been cordial for much of the last century.
Taiwan is an island of many riches of the greatest variety. At present, it is one of the world's great computer manufacturers, but centuries ago it was known as the "Granary of China," producing tea, camphor, and sugar cane.
The first time I read about Silver Stream Cave (銀河洞) in an old Chinese guidebook, I felt sure my shaky Chinese skills had translated the description of the place completely wrong.
It often seems to me that Taiwanese do not travel really to see places, but rather travel to various eateries to taste the local delicacies.
Anyone who's stood at the summit of Mount Jade on a clear morning will long remember the unbeatable panorama over the surrounding mountains from the roof of Taiwan.
I am floating in the steaming hot springs of the aboriginal mountain village of Chingchuan (清泉), an hour's ride from the foothills of Chutung (竹東), not far from Hsinchu (新竹) City. Outside, the air is chilly.
Taiwan's government is working hard to attract more foreign tourists to the island, and one market niche where progress is being made is bird-watching.
In this, the third of four installments following the adventures of nine brave cyclists riding 800 kilometers from Taipei to Kending over eight days, we look at stages five and six, which took us from Sun Moon Lake, up and across the mighty Central Cordillera, and down the superb East Rift Valley to Antong Hot Spring.