The little Hsinchu (新竹) County settlement of Hongmaogang (紅毛港) consists of little more than a police station, a couple of houses and (on weekends) a line of snack stalls facing the Taiwan Strait.
Driving along the narrow, dead straight lane that leads through the fields from the town of Dasi (大溪) to Lee Teng-fang House, the town's greatest historic relic, the countryside is strikingly quiet and soporific.
Motoring our way up the mountain roads of Taoyuan (桃園) County, I noted with sadness that most of the mountainsides have been stripped of their original forest cover.
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.
As a diehard fanatic for fresh fruit, I can absolutely appreciate how it is so readily available during the summer months in Taiwan.
Daxi (大溪) recently drew quite a bit of media attention thanks to political battles over the fate of Chiang Kai-shek's and Chiang Ching-kuo's mausoleums -- and for that matter, their bodies as well.
It's hard to believe today, but orchards of fruit trees probably once stood where the department stores and swanky new apartment blocks of Taoyuan City (桃園市) now stand.
To see the most beautiful parts of northern Taiwan, it's generally necessary to get out of the car and walk, but at least one road in the region gives a pretty good glimpse of the magnificent mountains of the island's northern quarter.