Monday, June 29, 2009

Cycling down the east coast: Pt3

Saturday morning began with light, dazzlingly bright and impossible to ignore. In erecting our tent the previous evening I had managed to orient it so that the first rays of the morning sun to strike from over the sea would pass straight through the flaps on one side of the tent and into my face, slowly charring my retinas.

I think I feel the joy of being alive! Oh, I'm mistaken: it's a stick I can feel, underneath the floor of the tent. I guess it's easy to confuse existential joy with a stick if you've just been prematurely woken by the sun, painfully searing your retinas.

The usual routine followed with minor variations allowing for character and circumstance: pack up and stow tent and other equipment, shower, eat breakfast, pack up bicycle and perform minor maintenance. I think we all pumped our tyres up.

Down the road a while we detoured a very short way to the beach. Here we danced our cares away, worries for another day, let the music play, down at Chung-yun beach. Actually I made that name up. However, we did have a long-jump contest and take some jumping photos. My mp3 player was saved from being immersed in the salty water of a freak wave by John who acted fast and plucked most of our few belongings from the sand which was soaked a second later. My sandals got a rinse in the brine but they probably needed it: long-distance cycling can really enhance your personal odors and and do terrible things to your sex-appeal.

One of the best things about Taiwan is the fruit. We reached Taitung in the afternoon and found ourselves a hotel. That night we watched the new Star Trek movie (surprisingly good) and ate a Sushi Express dinner. And of course we paid a brief visit to the local night market to pick up a few supplies for breakfast and the train journey home.

[technical note: we dropped our bicycles off at the local Giant store on Sunday morning and they were somehow shipped to the Giant bicycle store of our choice by Tuesday of the following week. We paid a fee for the service but it was not expensive and freed us of the terrible inconvenience of transporting our bicycles on the train again.]

This last shot was taken by John while waiting for our train back to Tainan. We purchased our tickets and sat down on the expansive green lawn in front of the facility. I had started the trip unnecessarily grumpy and obstinate and had slowly come around to something like revelation in the sense of reveling in the simple pleasures offered us by our temporary circumstances, like being out in the fresh air and sunshine. Inevitably and predictably the return to work was upon us faster than we would have liked and before long we were all in a taxi heading back to An-ping, bereaved at the loss of the sea, the mountains, the fresh air, and new sights. A predictable return to predictability.

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