YOU KNOW WHEN SOMEONE DOES NOT KNOW IF HE CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT? I had that same feeling over and over the night I spent at the random public toilet I found. I am not overly dramatic or anything, it’s just that I brought only a sleeping bag (that is already half wet thanks to the rain), and an extra T-shirt for me to change into. I’ve learned from my past travels not to bring too much, because the extra burden will only slow you down. But this time around, the temperature was nearing 15 degrees Celsius and I was stuck at a seaside, where the winds are not your average good-natured breeze. While the wind blew brutally onto me, I crammed myself into the sleeping bag, and remained there until 5 AM. (I dare not open my eyes even once, you’ll never know what you’ll see~)
Just before dawn, I woke up and loaded all my stuff onto my bike, and stood at the beach waiting for daybreak. The winds are still freezing cold, but as soon as I noticed that there will not be an orange ball of fire coming right out of the horizon, my heart went cold a little. The weather sucked and the clouds did hid the sun very nicely. No beautiful sunrise for me today, but at least I saw the first rays of light of the Pacific Ocean, it is still incredible, isn’t it? I continued my early adventures by following some wooden paths and found this beautiful pavilion. The view was amazing, and I just sort of stood right there, inhaling all that beauty.
I DRAGGED MYSELF ONTO THE BIKE ONCE AGAIN and from there, I started my journey back home. My bike and I followed the Provincial Highway No. 11 north, which runs mainly beside the beach, offering me plenty of opportunities for photo shoots, just like this, and this. The road went from easy-toddler-grade to die-hard-level all within a few miles apart. This merry-go-round of various degree of difficulty level, worsened by the cold winds constantly blowing south. It was extremely challenging, and that is what made it unforgettable. Yet, with my persistency, I managed to reach Ji’ Chi beach, where it reminded me of my earlier trip with my fellow friends few summers back.
All work and no play makes Frankie an angry boy. And to keep myself happy, I stopped for a break at some deserted wooden shack which can easily be modified to become a haunted house. After passing by Niu’ Shan (translated into Cow Mountain), a beach which a visited before, I arrived at Fan’ Shu’ Liao, another small town with fewer houses than you can count. The main attraction here is Bridge 18, a red bridge connecting two sides of a breathtaking gorge, which is considered to be the best in this region. At the other side of the bridge, you can find yourself towering above vast lowlands, where everything is either light green or dark green. Standing on the bridge, I can’t help but feel amazed by the wonders of nature. I should warn you that although the pictures look fantastic, everyone should go there in person for that mesmerizing experience.
WHY CHOOSE THE COLDEST WEEKEND OF THIS YEAR’S WINTER to go vagabond? I do not know exactly. I did not actually scheduled it out with the weatherman so I guess it was a sweet mistake. Having said that, cycling during such cold weather can have its advantages. For once, you do not need to worry about aching knees and arms because your extremities are all chilled numb; no need for painkillers, the cold winds can really work its wonders. You can now officially satisfy your chocolate cravings without guilt, because as they say, chocolate is the best companion for cold travelers. Another advantage is that you literally do not need to have a big bag to carry your clothing, because almost all your garments are ON you. There is actually one sad thing for cold weather though. You must not try to go swim in the sea because there is a big possibility of getting frostbite or even worse, severe hypothermic shock, which I know, a condition no amount of chocolate can cure.
With the cold winds blowing against me, I had no choice to cycle all the way through great resistance. There are times when I had to push my bike because the winds can actually make me go backwards if I don’t. During normal weather, a downhill slide will let my bike go at 25km per hour (at least), but now, I would be very grateful to get it going at 10km per hour. I prayed hard to God so that He could switch the air-conditioning at least one notch lower but I doubt if he heard me because the winds continued to gain its strength hour to hour.
For the remaining parts of this entry, I have to admit that I am writing it out of a very obscure memory. When I was about 20km outside Hua’ Lien (my destination), I started to experience tingling feelings on my palms and feet. My breathing became labored and I started to feel dizzy. My legs aren’t pedalling as hard as they were, and all this while, I still had to force myself through the winds. What I recalled was that I may have had a low blood sugar episode. I didn’t take much breakfast that morning and I finished all my chocolate supplies halfway through the journey. The weather was too cold for me and I had to metabolize my remaining body fat to fuel my working feet. I realized the need for some sugar intake (hey, medical school DID teach me something) but there were no shops in sight. To make the story short, I managed to struggle through the remaining 15km before I found a convenience store. I hastily paid for a bottle of juice and a chocolate bar, sat on something, and started gobbling down carbs. After a short rest, I felt better and continued to cycle back to my dorm.
It was when I reached my room, finished my 3PM lunch, and after a long hot shower that my mind began to work normally. During that few hours of light-headedness, the only thing I can think of is that I need to get back home safe. Although I am aware that my condition was uncomfortable but not that critical, it scares me a little when I come to think of it. If I were to pass out on the road and no one came to notice, I might freeze to death or even have a hypoglycemic shock which can be fatal (it is medically possible for that to happen).
ALL IN ALL, I did come back safe and I did enjoy myself. It was a close call and I considered that a lesson well learned — you should always prepare more clothing in case God forgot to switch off the air-conditioning AGAIN.