Scooter Diary: leaving

This summer we are in love with scooter traveling -- traveling safely and having fun. I spent some time and money getting my old scooter repaired and ready for a long trip.

Traveling around the island by scooter is many young peoples' dream when they are in college. I have already delayed it for twenty years. Because I used to think that traveling under the sun was too hard and traveling on the scooter was too tiring.

Even now, when I have already decided to go, there are still too many thoughts going through my mind: Is the weather going to be good? Is it going to be too hot? Is it going to be too late? Is it going to be too far? Is it going to be safe? Is it going to be too expensive? Is it going to be a good guesthouse? I am still sitting down, creating thoughts without moving.

I had so many doubts in my mind stopping me from enjoying traveling. I made a decision: why not just pack my backpack first? I don't have to go today, but if I am packed, I can jump on my scooter whenever I feel like.

I slowly prepared the traveling essentials, trying to keep it as simple as possible. At the same time, I did the laundry, cleaning, and house work, so there could be no more thoughts like: “This work isn't done, so you can't go traveling”. (Though by the time I finished packing, the house work still wasn't all done).

History and family

I've been thinking about visiting my family's real hometown Jinshan for a long time. My family first lived there almost 150 years ago. I want to see if I can feel any connection between me and Jinshan.

My family's reasons for moving to Jinshan were not happy ones. Around 1860, during fierce fighting between groups from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou, some of my ancestors who came from Zhangzhou were driven out of the flat land near the Danshui river north of Taipei, and had to move to the hillsides in Jinshan. I am not sure if my great grandfather was raised in Jinshan, but my dad's family still own some land in Jinshan.

I know very little about Jinshan. In Chinese it literally means 'Gold Mountain'. But Jinshan is famous for it's farms growing the best sweet potatoes, its duck restaurants on the old street, and its hot springs.

How to get there?

You can get to Jinshan by driving over the mountains north of Taipei, along the Yangjin Highway (陽金公路), which is probably the quickest way to get there by scooter. You could also drive to Danshui and then around the North coast of Taiwan.

But we didn't use either of these routes to get to Jinshan this time. We drove over the mountains east of Taipei, towards the Pacific coast, and then drove north to Jinshan. It is far from the quickest or most direct way, although it is very scenic.

The slowest road to Jinshan

This is the route we followed to get to Jinshan. First head towards the south side of Taipei City, and the district called Muzha. From the Taipei Zoo area and Muzha Station, drive East towards Shenkeng on Route 106 (this is just across the river from the Zoo, where it also has the name Mushan Road, Section 5).

Follow Route 106 through Shenkeng Town (past the Holiday Inn Hotel), and past the Shiding Interchange, and into the countryside. At the base of the mountains Route 106 splits (http://goo.gl/maps/YB8oR). Make a sharp left turn and follow the section of Route 106 which heads up into the mountains towards Pingxi (Pingsi). Do not take the road to Pinglin. There is a clear English-language sign at this junction and at most other major junctions on this route.

You can explore the Pingxi area, or keep following route 106 through the mountains. At Shifen (http://goo.gl/maps/iBHXg), you have a choice. Follow route 106 down to the large town of Ruifang. From Ruifang, you can drive to Badu and then Wanli. It's possible to go through Jilong, although this may be a bit slower. When you're in Wanli, you will start to see road signs for Jinshan.





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