Join | Login  

     Popular! Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry
Where Authors and Readers come together!


Featured Authors:  John DeDakis, iLaurie Conrad, iPinckney Rivers, iPaul Kyriazi, iDr. Ulla Sebastian, iT. Cline, iCULLEN DORN, i

  Home > Travel > Articles Popular: Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry     

Stephen Gallup

· Become a Fan
· Contact me
· Books
· Articles
· 10 Titles
· 1 Reviews
· Save to My Library
· Share with Friends!
Member Since: Mar, 2012

Stephen Gallup, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.

Featured Book
Keys to Living Joyfully
by Sheri Hoff

This book is an inspirational book on experiencing joy, peace, passion, and energy in daily life. It is designed to demonstrate the powerful roles of thoughts, action, an..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Featured Book
Visions of A Skylark Dressed in Black
by Aberjhani

“The woman or man who is a poet, or fiction writer, or playwright, or all of these, is engaged constantly in a jazz ballet of vocabularies, passions, genders, histories, ..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

   Recent articles by
Stephen Gallup

• A bridge from facts to fiction
• What we do for our kids
• Do writers really need a back end?
• Save time, save money, save your kid
• The power of words
• What have I learned from hardship?
• When doctors get it wrong
• What might have been
           >> View all

Primal wilderness ramblings from Taiwan
by Stephen Gallup   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, March 30, 2012
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012

Share    Print   Save    Become a Fan

Random events can set off chain reactions that lead to completely unpredictable results (from Sacred Ground Travel Magazine).

My trip to Taiwan several years ago stands as an example of how random events can set off chain reactions that lead to completely unpredictable results. A memorable link in such a chain took shape one evening at an outdoor table high in the mountains of central Taiwan. I was in a small group of half-frozen vacationers, huddled gratefully around a steaming pot of shabu-shabu, when a lanky Taiwanese guy named Ah-Li joined us.

Ah-Li was acquainted with Ming, a friend whose persistent invitations had convinced my wife Judy and me to travel there from our home in California. He took a seat across the table from me, nodded in greeting, and silently poured half of his large bottle of Taiwan Beer into a glass for me. We saluted each other with our drinks. In the Hakka dialect (of which I understood not a syllable), he commented that I looked chilly. Ming translated as Ah-Li produced a snack bag then handed me a green, pecan-shaped object.

“He says this will warm you up,” Ming related. I noticed that Ah-Li seemed comfortable wearing just a sleeveless undershirt, whereas my coat felt completely inadequate. The forested mountains around us rose to 10,000 feet and this was January.

I turned the mysterious thing around in my fingers. “What is it?” I asked.

“Betel-nut,” said Ming's husband Kai. “You don't eat it. Just chew like gum.”

Kai added that he and Ming didn't partake. I felt no desire to put it in my mouth but figured acceptance of the offer would be the only polite course. In the week we'd been on the island, Judy and I had committed a few minor faux pas, due to our ignorance of Asian values. For example, we'd scolded our son in public for touching strangers, assuming they'd object to a kid invading their space with potentially grubby hands. We didn't know the degree to which children are accepted there. Pulling our boy away from them sent an unfriendly message.

So, I popped the nut into my mouth. At first, it was tough and chewy like soft wood. I wondered how soon I could politely get rid of it. Then, my face suddenly felt warm. This warmth ran down the backs of my arms and a sensation of well-being spread over my body.

“Whoa!” I said with surprise. “This is something completely different.” I laughed, realizing I sounded like the guy from Monty Python. “They don't sell these in the U.S., do they?”

“Nope,” Kai said. “Illegal there. It's a mild narcotic.”

“Oh, now you tell me!” I smiled at my companions. The rush had already dissipated. I wasn't particularly excited about having taken a drug and refrained from accepting another. However, I thanked Ah-Li as earnestly as possible, given the language barrier. That little nut had taken my mind off the cold and refocused my attention on the exotic surroundings.

Our adventures around Taiwan tended to follow that template: Judy and I carried our worries into novel situations, then the country surprised and delighted us, making those issues evaporate. The time we spent in Alishan National Park was the highlight.

Alishan resembles America's Great Smoky Mountains, but with a distinctly Asian flavor. Wispy clouds called dragon's breath hang between steep, densely-wooded peaks. Narrow trails wind among the exposed roots and gnarled trunks of massive old trees. Seeing the sun rise is an obligatory part of everyone's trip there, so we ventured forth one morning before 5 am to find a suitable vantage point. We were the first to arrive, thus our spot was extremely quiet and peaceful. As the sky brightened, birds chirped overhead.

Another family drove up and joined us. Then, several vans appeared, from which issued a crowd of fifty or more tourists. Their guide leaped onto a retaining wall and started shouting excitedly at them in Japanese with a bullhorn! So much for peace and quiet. I didn't know what he was saying, but it sounded as if he were narrating the approach of the sun like a sports announcer at a football game. Astonished, I stopped focusing my camera on the skyline and snapped photos of the people around me.

On our last day, we drove back down from the mountains at a leisurely pace, stopping frequently at overlooks. At one point, we found a suspension footbridge crossing a dramatic gorge, where I had the strange feeling I’d been there before. I realized that I'd dreamed about the place, more than once! Very eerie. On the other side of the bridge was a small Taoist shrine, piled high with offerings of fruit and redolent with the smell of incense. A rocky path continued past it, which I followed to a dense bamboo grove. I couldn't shake the sense of having wandered into a magical place. Without friends waiting back at the car, I'd have lingered indefinitely.

Before going to Taiwan, I knew very little about Asia. I certainly never expected to go there. The first link in that remarkable chain of events was a doctor's appointment back in San Diego. Judy was writing a check at the counter when Ming's little boy rolled onto her foot. Conversation between mothers ensued. We became friends with Ming and Kai, who lived near us. Later, when they moved back to Ming's hometown in Taiwan, they urged us to visit—and wouldn't take no for an answer.

After our Taiwan trip, I began studying Chinese, believing the experience had lifted me too far out of my previous insular groove to ever fit comfortably back into it. I've made four trips across the Pacific since, acquiring friends and even relatives there. Visiting Taiwan became a defining event in my life—and it all started when a child rolled across the floor of a doctor's waiting room.


Web Site: What About the Boy?

Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!

Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!

Panama Canal, Russia, and the Danube River: Armchair Travel Series by Pauline Hager

Armchair Travel Series around the Globe with Pauline: Cruise the Panama Canal, Russia and the Danube River by Pauline Hager. An 18 day cruise through the Panama Canal was fille..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

TRAVEL: Making Day Dreams Come True by John Rayburn

First-hand tales of exciting places to see in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and the United Kingdom told with personal observations and anecdotes...  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Authors alphabetically: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Featured Authors | New to AuthorsDen? | Add AuthorsDen to your Site
Share AD with your friends | Need Help? | About us

Problem with this page?   Report it to AuthorsDen
© AuthorsDen, Inc. All rights reserved.