I was blessed to have been able to come down a few days early before our annual Taiwan Team Forum. On Friday, I rode my bicycle around “the loop” from Hengchun to JiaLeShui and back to Hengchun again via Eluanpi and Kenting. The fifty-something kilometers across hilly terrain with strong winds (not to mention the rain, and an increasing number of reckless drivers the last 10 kilometers) was a bit more difficult bicycle ride than my typical leisurely ride of similar length back home on the western coastal plains in Taiwan! I stopped to rest whenever I felt like it.
On the morning of Day Two, the wind and waves in HengChun were too overwhelming to engage in my preferred activity of skin diving, but I enjoyed another leisurely 52 km on the bicycle, driving from LongQuan Village in Hengchun up to the National Aquarium, and then back down to 7-11 for 2nd breakfast and my morning cup of coffee, with multiple rest stops at HouBiHu, MaoBiTou, and White Sands Beach.
On Day Three, I was only able to bike 20 km. The steady downpour of heavy rain and the high winds dampened any continuing enthusiasm to exercise! Descending Guan Mountain was actually slower than turning around and going up it due to the stiff typhoon-like wind blowing in my face! A few hundred meters later, however, after turning a corner, I felt the full force of the gale-force winds at my side. Turning another corner, I found myself racing down the mountain slope at 52 km/hour. I squeezed the brakes liberally to prevent any quicker an ascent. At this speed over a slipperly surface and with the rain spraying in my face, I felt particularly invigorated, if not a little frightened.
The ocean waves at BaiSha were bigger than I've ever seen them before (To my surprise, the coast guard is now stationing 2 men there to watch for persons swept away by the undertow).
I waited until mid-afternoon before making my way over to the national aquarium. By this time many of the weekend tourists were heading home already.
A moment later, I had a similar thought regarding my fellow tourists. A group of overly-loud youth strolled through the aquarium tunnel, drowning out the melodic music tuned to the movement of the fish which surrounded us on all sides. The youth seemed completely disconnected from the scene at hand.
There were others who did not pause to experience the moment, mostly responsible parents busily watching over kids. But then there were others restlessly moving this way and that, pointing their cameras and shooting pictures apparently without pausing to appreciate the moment for the sake of its own beauty. For the many Chinese tourists from Hong Kong and the Mainland and for the Taiwanese themselves, being a part of the group they come with (group identity) IS the event they experience. There’s nothing wrong with this; just another way to process reality.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Thank you, Father God, for giving me the opportunity to slow down and experience the wonder of Your creation these past few days. “This is my Father’s World / and to my listening ears/ all nature sings, and round me rings / the music of the spheres.