Sunday, January 22, 2006

Weather, hikes

First, the weather - The lowest I've seen, here, has been about 9C (48F) on the SongShan Airport thermometer that shines out across the road from my place (I have to walk to the corner to actually see it, so I only see it when going to and from work). Invariably, it goes down to 9C and starts to rain for a week when I have visitors, and then the sun comes out and the temperature shoots up to about 27C (81F), when they leave. . .

On one of the Richard Saunders hikes, I lucked out because our fearless leader's roommate had a car, and joined us, and there were only 4 of us, so we went around to the far side of Yangmingshan Park, where the buses don't go, and we went up the 2nd highest mountain in the park (Juzhi Shan). This was particularly nice because, besides being a dirt path, we got to fight our way through a short bamboo jungle up the side of the mountain. The views out to the sea were spectacular. And I can gloat, because I was on a mountain that few of my native Taiwan friends and none of my employees have scaled. (I've since taken a few up!).

Two weeks before that, I went up the highest mountain (cising) in YangMingShan Park, which is about 1120 Meters (around 3675ft) high, which, while it was a concrete stair climb was still quite enjoyable because of the group I went up with. It is an incredibly popular hike because it's pretty easy to get to the trailhead, goes to the highest peak in the park, and is very short (only about 5km (3 miles) ROUND TRIP!). There was a slightly shorter peak that we went to on the way to our goal, and as we glanced over to our destination, we saw that there seemed to be a lot of people, there. Part-way there, we decided to break while we waited for a bunch of people to leave, and saw a big group of maybe 30 or so depart, so we thought we'd have it to ourselves. HA!!!! There were probably another 100 or so people up there!!!!!! It seems that there was a company outing, so a lot of folks and their families were up there having a big picnic lunch. We took a couple of pictures to prove we'd made it, took in the views (unfortunately hampered by the pollution, that day), and went back to the other peak and were greeted by one of our group members making tea for us!!! (He was willing to make coffee, but most of us wanted tea. . .) No roughing it, here!

Oh, and on the way to meet up with the crew to go to Cising mountain, I took the bus. On some buses, you have to pay when you get on, and on others, you have to pay when you get off. You have to pay attention to the Chinese characters that are lit above the bus driver's head when you get on to know when to pay. This particular one was pay as you leave. I'd had very little sleep the night before (had a meeting that I presented at until 2:30am in the morning), and I was busy staring at the Chinese characters on the screen of the bus, where it said what each stop was in advance in both Chinese and English. I guess that I was sort of daydreaming, because all of a sudden, I realized that it was my stop, so I leaped off of the bus. I heard the bus beep, and in my fog, I turned around, very slowly, I guess, as the bus was continuing on, but I realized that the driver was beeping at me, because I'd forgotten to pay! I'm a criminal in Taiwan. . .

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