When the first northeast seasonal wind blows to the northern part of the island, it tells us of the coming of autumn. Autumn usually arrives in northern Taiwan in late September or early October.
When most people mention Yangmingshan, Taipei City's magnificent natural playground, it seems they're usually talking about the area around the main bus terminal on the mountain, or maybe Seven Star Mountain, the grasslands of Buffalo Meadow (擎天岡), or perhaps even the calla lily fields and rustic eateries of Zhuzihhu (竹子湖).
Following instructions from a website about beaches near Taipei, I traveled to Baishawan (白沙灣White Sands Beach), which was supposedly one of the best and closest beaches to Taipei.
The gray sky has been threatening rain all morning, and as I edge cautiously up the long, sloping rock face at the summit of the peak towards the brink of the sheer cliff beyond, it starts to drizzle, although I hardly notice it, as I'm already damp from the sweat I've worked up in getting up here.
Forcing our way through silver grass taller than our heads, and trying to avoid shallow pits and depressions in the ground beneath, we had no choice but to hope the directions we'd been given were correct as we struggled to find the start of the path to one of Yangmingshan's best hidden treats: the untouched hot springs of Lujiaokeng (鹿角坑溫泉).
The great popularity enjoyed by the Gold Ecological Museum at Jinguashi (金瓜石) since it opened a couple of years ago is proof that the gold rush era continues to exert a strong pull on the public's imagination.
In comparison with many of Taiwan's more famous ancient trees, the Dasheng Tree (大神神木), on the slopes of Aman Peak (阿屘尖) on the border between Taoyuan and Taipei Counties is a mere baby in size.
Perched high above the union of the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the area around Jinguashi and Jiufen on the northeast coast of Taiwan is a relatively new discovery for me, but is turning into one of the most exhilarating and tempting hiking areas anywhere within easy reach of Taipei City.
Two things immediately stood out as I followed Xiao Tzukeng Old Trail near the Taipei County town of Ruifang one beautiful early morning recently.
It was a long weekend, and we decided to embark on a motorcycle trip over the Central Mountain Range, using the North Cross Island Highway. We had ample time, and chose a two-day trip.