Huandao Day 8

An easy ride from Hsinchu to Taichung…

An iPhone 15 Pro being held in front of the entrance to a TSMC building.
TSMCHQ. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 140 km
Ride time (with stops) 5 hours
Number of actual leopard cats 0

Today, Google Maps led me on an easy route that was also kinda mundane.

But it felt nice to be arrive in Taichung, only 11 days after I was here on my bubble tea odyssey. (A day that feels like months ago, already.)

I felt unwell on arrival. Probably allergies or tiredness, or a consequence of riding 1,000km on a scooter. I’ll sleep early tonight.

An SYM MMBCU scooter on a hoist in a mechanic workshop.
Yesterday, I ticked over 1,000km since starting my huandao. So, first-up today, an oil change.
An iPhone 15 Pro being held in front of the entrance to a TSMC building.
Next, I made a quick stop outside TSMC’s global headquarters in Hsinchu. My phone’s powered by a 3-nanometer chip manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan. The company is critically important to Taiwan: it contributes 15% of Taiwan’s GDP, and is part of the island’s ‘Silicon Shield’—the concept that, because TSMC manufactures 50% of the world’s semiconductors, the EU and the US are reliant on Taiwan, and therefore have an incentive to stop China from invading.
Five wind turbines in a rural area of Taiwan, viewed from the side of a road.
Heading south, I rode past hundreds of wind turbines. Like TSMC, wind is important for Taiwan’s national security. Taiwan depends on fossil fuel imports for 97% of its total energy requirements. In addition to being environmentally alarming, this makes Taiwan vulnerable to having its non-renewable energy supply cut off, in the event of war.
Two park bench-style seats next to a pond in a forest.
In between turbines, I ate lunch at the Dazhu South Wetland (大竹南湿地).
A digital information board with seven emission types listed, along with two numbers for each. Aside from the numbers, all writing is in Chinese. The display is mounted on a structure that resembles a bus shelter.
There’s a factory next to the wetland entrance. Outside the gates, I thought this was a bus schedule until I got closer: it’s actually a readout of the factory’s particle emissions. For example, the first line shows 57.4 PPM of nitrogen oxide, well under the limit of 180.0 PPM.
A Taiwanese road sign warning of Taiwan leopard cats ahead.
Further south, I saw this sign warning of Taiwan leopard cats. They’re a critically-endangered species, with fewer than 500 left in the wild. I didn’t spot any today, but…
A wall of a building at Rainbow Village (彩虹眷村) in Taichung, Taiwan. Amongst the figures painted on this wall is a cartoonish Taiwan leopard cat.
…I saw a painting of one at Rainbow Village in Taichung, a place I also visited in 2018 and 2019. It was closed today so I just had a look around the perimeter. When I was here previously, it felt like the happiest place on earth. But conflict between the artist and the village operator means I’m now unsure of its status.
A brightly-painted wall of Rainbow Village in the foreground, and a tall apartment building in the background. The apartment building is perhaps 25 stories tall.
Something else has changed since 2019: formerly-vacant land next door is now covered in high-rise apartments.
The forecourt of Rainbow Village, shaded by a new gray concrete wall on the right.
The new buildings were casting a shadow over the forecourt at 3:30pm.
A happy young woman looking at a sign that says Rainbow Village. Brightly-painted village buildings are visible behind her, with crowds of people in the foreground.
So, here’s a photo from happier times: December 2018.

Day 8 soundtrack

  1. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Knives at Noon – Glitter Guts (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  4. Joe 90 – Dream This (Apple Music) (Spotify)