in taiwan

desire path

you know when you when you’re walking along a path in a garden or forest and you see a shortcut that people have walked on over and over again, so much that it became a new, more convenient path? it’s probably a straight line, an efficient way to cut a corner. we actually have one of these really close to our place: the “official” sidewalk goes around the space, but there’s an “unofficial” shortcut that goes right through the middle.

these paths are called desire paths. i don’t even remember how i came across this expression, but i’ve known it for many years and always remembered it because of the quirky, endearing name. i had never heard anyone use it before though, until our walk in yangmingshan:

the proper cobbled path goes around the corner for a bit longer, and over time, people have created a shortcut through the middle, to save some steps. it’s a silly thing, but it was the first time i saw the expression being used and it made me look and smile. :)

in taiwan

yangmingshan national park

we saw the the blue magpie while on a hike in yangmingshan, the national park to the north of taipei. it’s a beautiful place, with hills and mountains carpeted in green, water buffalos roaming around, remnants of the japanese military, lakes and hot water. getting there was its own adventure though! we caught a mini-bus that drove all the way uphill like it was being chased by rockets, or like the driver was afraid the bus would roll down the hill if it stalled. because the number of seats was limited (and there were lots of elderly people going to the thermal baths), we stood the whole trip and held on to dear life. what a ride! 

after we stepped off the bus, the surroundings were so green and beautiful… everything was quickly forgotten!

we started our hike in a small circular trail around qingtiangang grassland, and then took the path to lengshuikeng, while the water buffalos watched us from afar. there were stakes on the ground in certain spots, so that you could hide behind them if they decided to attack, which apparently happens sometimes! 😱 they were super well-behaved though.

calling this a hike might be a bit of a stretch, as the path was always paved with stones and well-kept. more like a nice walk in the forest, to take in the sights. everything is so vivid green up here, i enjoyed it a lot.

and at the end, there was this thermal bath place, the water of which drained through some pools where you could sit and have a little foot bath. it was so good… what a perfect ending to a hike!

in taiwan


although they were no longer mandatory in most places when we were in taiwan, 90% of the population still used masks everywhere, even outside — i guess part out of habit, part because of the pollution, and part just to play it safe. we used them as well most of the time as a precaution, because i would have hated if i had gotten sick during this trip that i had been waiting for so long. it actually felt good to wear them when out and about! 

it helps that masks here are really cute: there’s a variety of designs and shapes, and they seem overall much more comfortable than the ones we’d been wearing in europe during the height of the pandemic. i grabbed some travel/postal themed ones, and later also these cute moomin ones. :) i’m keeping a little stash to use in hospitals or public transportation back home — i think they’ll be the cutest masks in a large radius! :D 

in taiwan

to the library!

what is a person to do, when work needs to be done but an airbnb with a table is practically impossible to find? cafés in taipei can be super nice to work from, but they are also quite expensive for everyday use. so the logical solution is to look for a library! :) we stayed next to the normal university in taipei, and their library was perfect for a few hours of focused work: quiet, air conditioned (sometimes too much), with good internet and plugs everywhere. 

in hualien, i shared a table at the library with a grandpa that alternated between watching something on his ipad and dozing in place — not even the noise of the periodical fighter jets above us would wake him up! and kaohsiung’s central library was lovely too, modern and well-equipped, with a brilliant shop (as if it were a museum)… and a vending machine to pick up or drop library books at a central metro station!

libraries really are a big comfort space for me — how brilliant is it that every town has this safe, cozy place where you can just read or do your thing… and for free! they really made me wish i could properly read chinese so i could pick up some books while there. maybe by the time we next visit, i’ll be able to pick something to read from the kid’s section…

in taiwan pretty things

souvenir stamps

one thing that gave me great joy in taiwan was a little unexpected: souvenir stamps! every metro station, national park or historical place seems to have at least one commemorative rubberstamp, but often more. we first stumbled on them on a metro station in taipei, and when i realized what they were, i was hooked!

i’ve loved this kind of rubberstamps ever since we discovered the concept while hiking in slovenia, where every mountain had its own stamp. i always carry a little notebook around with me, and the one for taiwan got a good 20% of it filled up with just stamps. i even used some on the postcards i was sending out, since they were so nice.

the ones in taipei’s MRT were especially well designed, while in kaohsiung they seemed more dull… except for a few special ones, which were done in collaboration with illustrators. collecting them turned into a kind of treasure hunt, always on the lookout for the next one. i know they also exist in japan, but i wish other countries adopted these too — they’re such a joy!