Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cache, Crash, and Grass: Nobody Slides for Free

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.

The fish.

I took lots of pics of the countryside -- it was a windy day, with flat light.

Rural towns.

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 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. 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.


Anonymous said...

Oh man, some of those (especially the long shots of the palm or betel forests) are amazing). I have some great photos like that, but yours here today really beat everyhing I've seen so far in Taiwan!

I'm really surprised car vs. rice field accidents don't happen more often. I've never seen it once, except in this, your currently depicted one! And the road you drove on (in a very small truck, I might add!) is not even the narrowest here in the countrysides of Taiwan. There are so many roads here that are built so very high up above the rice field/lakes.

Anonymous said...

Glad you guys were OK.

Anonymous said...

Hukou!! That's my hometown Michael, which part of Hukou you went? the Old Hukou or the new one?

-CSU Student

Anonymous said...

Ass, Cash or Grass--nobody rides for free!

The first time I saw that phrase was on a bumper sticker at a store in Fukuoka, Japan. I really wish I had bought that sticker.

Michael Turton said...

Hukou! I was in both parts. Hukou has a really great old Taiwanese feel to it.

Thoth, those trees line one of the canals that one frequently finds running parallel to the ocean on both coasts. I have no idea what their function might be.

I've seen 00s of of car vs. rice field accidents. Car vs ditch too.

Car seems to be fine, drove it back to Taichung today...

Anonymous said...

Those tree line are there for preventing the wind erosion extending inland

CSU Student

Anonymous said...

I live near ChenKung Road (the road comes out from new Hokou) and the No.1 ShenDao intersection, you probably drove past it if you try to hop on freeway in the HsinChu industrial park

CSU Student

Anonymous said...

Michael, majority of the population in Hukou are actually Hakka not Taiwanese. You can get around in Hukou if you know how to speak Hakka :)

CSU Student

Andre said...

wow... glad to hear you guys are OK

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the vehicle wasn't damaged too badly and it's still on four-wheels! Mere surface wounds.

The geocache hobby is something that I stumbled across while surfing the internet about a year ago.

Is the reward of finding a hidden treasure/trinket worth the effort? If people hide interesting or witty objects with stories behind them, that would be cool.

Michael Turton said...

The fun lies in the search, not the finding. Plus the travel bugs that float around the world. Neat idea, that.

Next time we go, you should come.


Anonymous said...

Bloody American drivers! Glad everyone was ok.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ....><" ha ha ha ~~~

poor 得力卡 !!

g said...

I've been too busy to check my Google Reader lately so i just saw this now. I'm glad you're okay! that's scary about the snake though.