I know this title isn’t the hopeful, motivational rubbish that you’d love to see to get you through your day, but keep reading anyway. This weekend in Taiwan is Dragon Boat Festival – a celebration that traditionally mourns and celebrates the life and death of Qu Yuan, who according to legend, drowned himself in the Miluo river after being exiled from China. Locals were sad at hearing of his death and so rowed down the river searching for his body, hitting the surface with their paddles to scare away the fish and throwing lumps of rice into the water in the hope that the creatures below wouldn’t eat his body. Nowadays it’s acknowledged with rice dumplings and dragon boat races, or if you’re like me and my friends, with a camping trip to the east coast.
Of course though, with every trip that we embark upon that involves outdoor activity, Taiwan’s heavens simply have to open in accordance with it, otherwise, it’s just not as fun is it? So this weekend, we headed to Dong Ao, away from the sunny west coast that we live on and towards the beautiful, albeit torrential, east coast, with hope that the rains would come to an end. How wrong we were.
Not only did the rains not stop, but there was also a rockfall further up the coast, blocking the road back up to Taipei, meaning that hundreds of people were stuck in the small village that we decided to camp near and all the restaurants and convenience stores were being attacked (not literally) by hungry folks just trying to get home. So, you could summarise it as a wet and hungry couple of days. What should have been four days camping on the beach, with the Pacific on one side and the mountains on the other, turned out to be barely two days on the beach with the Pacific raging on one side, and clouds on the other.
Now, I know I may have painted that picture as pretty terrible, and some people might find sitting on the beach in the pouring rain, trying to set up a tent and getting drenched while food supplies close to you dwindle a terrible ordeal, but my friends and I are not those people. Sure, we packed up a little early, because after a while being wet does get a little cold, even in Taiwan in May, but that’s the benefit of not planning anything for certain. And sure the beach experience wasn’t white sand and blue, calm ocean, rather huge waves that I would have drowned in almost instantly, but at the end of the day, we tried and it was great. We got our tents up, we drank some beers, somehow magically managed to start a fire despite the torrential rain, roasted some marshmallows and had a great time together.
I’m now sitting comfortably on my roof, watching the sun go down and trying to dry and desand all of my belongings and tent. I have no regrets on any front, in either venturing or returning. It’s definitely going to go down as another great weekend in Taiwan – as they always are.