Monday, February 22, 2010

A Chinese new year

I was able to spend the Chinese New Year holiday in the beautiful East Coast region of Taiwan. We travelled to Hualien (花蓮市, the city by the sea and Taroko Gorge National Park). It was the perfect scene for an enamoring vacation and spouted more meaning for why the Portuguese originally named the island "Formosa".

The sea came to my feet. I let it soak into my flesh and felt the sand gravitate between my toes. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sand engulfing my feet while the waves roar beside them, hugging them like a mama to her little ones.

I had yet to discover a sea like this. It was endless. I knew I was on an island, but in living so far away from the shore, I felt grounded on mainland, this evidence proved me otherwise. The sea is my home, bodies of water seem to welcome my heart gracefully. I grew up on a lake in Coeur d'Alene, ID, and swam almost everyday. My days were filled with jumping off docks with just floaties on. On this body of water, I viewed with great admiration as fishermen stand alongside their gear for a long day with their friend, the sea. Their floaties removed long ago but their dock still with them loyally.

As the beach welcomed me, my feet wanted to say something back. The only thing that came to mind was the great place in which I found my self in, "Taiwan".

The teaching crew from Berhan on the sands of Taiwan. We all danced upon the shore that day. Jumped high into the sky. We travelled by scooter, banking narrow turns downhills and uphills, all the while the sea breeze played alongside us. It was magical.

Cliffs mangled heroically beside the beach to entice further investigation. The edges of landmass amazed this watchful traveller. I climbed a rope to get here and the mist of the crashing waves welcomed me full-heartedly. I gladly could of stayed here for weeks. If I would have, as night fell, the crashing waves would've retold old bedtime stories while the mist tucked me into my cliffside bed.

My mind can get lost among the sounds of the waves. This is a moment like that, where the mind functions with the rhythm of the sea, each overturning concave deepening the trance.

The next day, a red bridge welcomed me on a small canyon highway outside the city, near Liyu Lake. The sun was singing to the mountaintops.

A road was carved from the listening monster of a mountainside. It came alive here as the pillars clung to the mountain making makeshift teeth for the beast.

Eventually the monster ate me up. I had a small spill among a wet spot on the road seen and got a good scrape on my right elbow and some damage to the foot. I brushed it off, everything intact, the journey continued.

I was eventually led to a great spot near a dam. The view stole the show.

Later that day, a monastery was the show-stealer. It lay hidden inside Taroko Gorge, the buddhist chanting luring us towards its discovery.

A good time to think deeply...or maybe just a good time to take a picture of me pretending to think deeply...yeah, I think it's the latter. But regardless, thinking did happen among these mountains, about how small I am and how big the masses of the Earth can shoot straight out trying to reach the limits of the atmosphere. So yeah, maybe deep thinking did happen...ha ha.

Day three brought hiking towards a blue wonder of river water. Miscommunication got the best of our navigation skills and we were led past the blue river to the hills of aboriginal viallages (a two-hour hike turned into close to six hours).

The land was rich with history. Life sprung out of every crack in the side of the mountain. The land is still used by living relatives of the aboriginal people, one of the few remaining sanctuaries for them.

We walked among the clouds. The white wisps I mostly peer to from below marked their wet droplets against my brow. An abandoned rigging system seemed endless, escaping deep into the hazy conglomeration of the hollowed water particles.

A journey unexplainable through words or even pictures. A living experience worthy of savoring as life continues onwards, beyond a Chinese new year and towards the rituals of a life known.


  1. Great pictures Brandon! I think Hualien is my favorite place in Taiwan. The eastern coast is absolutely breath taking! It looks like you got better weather than my last time there. Hope you had a fantastic New Year!

  2. Wow Brandon, I loved reading about your trip & the pictures were breath taking. Your discription of everything made me feel like I was walking by your side. Thanks Buddy for sharing your journey with us. I am so proud of you Number One Grandson! You make your Grandparents proud. We have been busy moving your Great Grandma's things over to the little house, so I haven't been checking your blog. Love you forever & ever!!!! Grandma