Hsinchu is my nemesis: every time I visit the Windy City, something happens.
The day started out normally. My friend Michael Klein, the Bushman, invited me up to Hsinchu to hunt for a geocache out by Yung-An Fish Port. Geocaches are like easter eggs, hidden in the landscape by GPS hounds, for other GPS enthusiasts to find.
The national sport is fishing. Here a local fishes for tilapia, a delicious farmed fish that has been dumped in ponds and creeks, and is now wild.
Michael points out to us where the fish are.
A nice clean habitat for the fish.
I took lots of pics of the countryside -- it was a windy day, with flat light.
An ornate old temple beckons.
Another temple. I love the incense burners.
Where is the geocache? Michael considers.
Down this trail?
Here we are! Geocache found.
Michael and Huichen unpack the geocachen.
Lots of cheap trinkets, to which the finder is supposed to add.
The travel bug....you can remove it and place it in another cache, so that it moves around the world. It is identifiable by a unique serial number.
Michael returns it to its hiding place.
After we found the cache, we went driving along the beach.
Here we view Yung An Fish Market from the north.
A cold day, the wind whipping up waves along the beach...
Michael and I are both wind power enthusiasts, so we decided to go take a look at the wind machines nearby.
Here two of them tower over the local homesteads. We drove into a dead end road by a rice field. So I decided to back up...
...Oops! I backed right into the field. The car slid slowly off the road, a shocking intrusion of anarchy into the well-controlled driving life I've made for myself. Amazing. In the passenger seat Michael yelled at Huichen in the back, but she was OK. Incredibly, none of us were injured, I told Michael I was OK...but more out of incredulity that I was OK, then out of any need to inform him. How could we fall into a field and not be injured? I clambered out over Michael, then opened the back so that Huichen and Michael could get out. They gingerly walked out on my side windows, so as not to break them. A positive sign: even though we were lying on our side the engine was still running. I turned it off after Michael reminded me, since he was afraid that it might cause a fire.
The car lies forlornly in the field.
The tow truck was an hour away, so we walked out to the main road and grabbed some lunch.
Michael was a rock. Everything will be OK. Just you watch, he said. You'll drive this vehicle right out of here. Reassuring, patient, and kind, Michael made my day. Huichen too did yeoman work talking to the tow truck guy and making sure he found the place, which was waaaay out in the middle of nowhere.
Wait! I've got to get some stuff...!
After an hour the tow truck came. Hmmm.....how do I solve this problem...
This guy was amazing. He was so good, so careful, he could write the Gospel of Mark on a postage stamp with his winch and crane. Tenderly and lovingly he winched the car out of the field.
Incredibly, it was back on the road. It started right up. The only problem was that it was out of oil, all of which had leaked out.
He gave me a free tow to the service station, where I bought some oil.
And drove away....
And so we went back to Hukou to BBQ and got drunk. The tow guy was amazing, made sure everything went well, polite, patient, and highly skilled, the very essence of professional service. He was incredible. I gave him a bottle of rum as a tip. And let's face it, as Michael pointed out, any day that you end up uninjured and inebriated is a very good day....
UPDATE: Car still works fine after one day. Michael K. has some great pics, taken by Huichen as the car was moved.
UPDATE: The person whose travel bug was in the geocache blogged us here.
UPDATE: What's long and thin and lives in my car? The snake the repair guys found in it on Monday morning.