November 11, 2016 - Willie Weir blogs regularly for Adventure Cycling.
We’ve only been riding our bikes in Taiwan for a week and have yet to experience the grandeur of the high mountains ... that will come soon.
But, we have been overwhelmed with the kindness of the people. It comes in the big smiles and thumbs up we get from people passing us in scooters, trucks, and cars. It comes in the patience of workers at restaurants and food stalls who go out of their way to help us order meals without any shared language skills. Here are just a few encounters.
A mother and daughter selling savory rice packets wrapped in banana leaves give us two more for the road, gratis.
A woman leaves her store to come to our aid. We tell her we need to find a hotel. She calls a few hotels, gets their rates, and shows us on our map where they are. Then she comes running back out to gift us some candies.
We enter a small roadside restaurant and discover Game 7 of the World Series is on the TV (baseball is the national sport of Taiwan). The owners are delighted to have two Americans to eat and watch the big game. When we finally get up to leave ... they refuse to let us pay.
And just this morning, a couple in their 60s stalked us, debating with each other whether they had the language skills to assist us. They finally approached us and asked if they could help us. We were looking for a store to stock up on supplies, so they were our escorts.
I cannot think of a single unkind or rude encounter since we arrived. If our bikes feel a bit heavier than usual ... perhaps they have been packed with kindness.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday.
Willie Weir is a contributor for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can also find him at WillieWeir.com, Facebook, and Instagram.