Taiwan: Typhoon Day #2, Losing Elephant Mt. Trail

LOSING ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN TRAIL
(Xiang Shan Trail)

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Despite the typhoon rain raging outside our front door, in true Black Family style, we’re embracing nature and heading out to find one of Taipei’s mountain trails: Elephant Mountain Trail. We’ve been warned, berated, and ridiculed, and yet when we set out the door there is a bewildered sense of surprise when we are almost immediately soaked to the skin… Fancy that!

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We rush to OK! Mart to buy 39NT plastic rain-proof onsies and gingerly pull them jerkily up over sticky skin; the coats immediately fill with steam off our sopping clothes, it feels like a small, localised sauna, we look ridiculous and the wetness is both inside and out. Excellent. Thoroughly wetted, we squelch towards the bus stop to catch a No. 1 to Wuxing Elementary School stop – many strange looks as we sniff onto the bus and swipe our metro cards. After being chilled nearly to the bone in the fierce No. 1 bus air-con, we decide to stay on just one more stop to avoid the rain. Good idea?

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As we step of the bus, we wander around and generally, upwards, looking for obviously signs of paths – and we find some concrete paths by allotments! Onwards and upwards. It’s very slippy, the path is swamped with leaves and debris, and more interestingly, there seems to be a small downwards stream flowing over our shoes. Nevertheless, we continue some twenty minutes upwards, wandering past small temples, traversing steep concrete steps, and skippity hopping past angry guard dogs wondering why Taipei’s dogs all seem to be either incredibly angry or ridiculously small. And then…

We hit a dead end.
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We’re wet, puffing, and hot – and quite frankly, while I’m sad to have reached the peak of Elephant mountain after our rainy day troubles, my thighs are happy to turn around and go downhill. Dad and one brother are determined to find the real trail; my youngest brother and I are determined to catch a ride home, and as we head down towards the main road we catch a glimpse of this sign….

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And the embarressing news is, there are lots more of these lining the walkway from the Wuxing Elementary School stop.

Ah well! The good news is I managed to get these amazing shots of the residential areas of Taipei; they’re so completely alien to the two-storey, detached-houses-with-garden set-up of Ireland.

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Despite our difficulties, the rain and the warnings it’s a fun day out in the rain!

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Beijing, TUESC: Post-Orchestral Torrents

A Night with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra

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For a wonderful night in, the University treated us with complimentary tickets to the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in the Tsinghua campus. They played all the good ones, and it was frankly, one of most exhilarating and wonderful experiences of my life.

Thank you, TUESC.

On the way home, the heavens open with a torrential downpour, the thunder rumbling hungrily and promising lightening  – which I can’t see, as I’m being blinded by rain on my trusty bike.

It’s really something else, coming down with monsoon thickness and great painful gusts as I have not yet seen in China. Dressed for the summer heat that was appropriate until three minutes ago, and on my rickety Chinese bike pedalling furiously into darkness – my chain comes off.
Obviously.

After calling the cavalry – who have made it back to the forms already sans mechanical problems – and several well-practised attempts to fix my chain, I embrace the rain and saunter back the mile to my dorms in the orange-lit dark through warm Beijing downpour, to be met by a huge group of soaked friends, about to dash out and find me.

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The Attendees - pre-downpour!
The Attendees – pre-downpour!
The after-rain shot!

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Smiles all round. It’s been a great, fantastic, wonderful evening.

Goodnight.

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