The tea is cold, and I don’t mind. I have taken my trousers off and no-one has screamed. In theory, cars and scooters drive on the right, but generally stick to the middle, or even the left or pavement if they feel like it.
I holy places I have met some living legends: an old man called Yue Lao standing under the moon. At night he ties a silken cord to chosen men and women to bring them together. He is worshipped at the same temple as a snarling red-faced warrior called Guan Yu.
This morning I got up at 3:30 to cycle to a beach with a very kind mainland Chinese man called Simon. On the way, under the street lights of Hualien with just a single star visible, we passed a couple of sleeping ducks, an army of African slugs and a party of stray dogs. On the colourful pebble beach with hundred or so other camera-flashing tourists we watched the sun rise for over half an hour – the sun is very my-pace. Perhaps even better than the beach was the marble wall of mountains to our left – several are over three thousand metres high and all rise within just a few kilometres from the seashore.
In the mountains in the afternoon, hundreds of butterflies flittered about over the steaming greenery, swallows danced and dived across the valley. Trees were literally strangling each other to get some breathing space and a spider was cleaning its web, a hanging blanket tied between trees.
The gum trees and plum trees caught my eye. I was singing about them when I tripped on a tree root and seriously grazed BOTH my knees. Bravely soldiering on, I was then chased back to the bus stop by a very aggressive puppy.
Fortunately the grazes DON’T require the application of a plaster but I will of course be taking it VERY carefully over the next few weeks.