One summer our friend Peter rode a 50cc scooter across the entire United States and filmed it. We may not be official ScootStars, but after riding a scooter down the coast of Taiwan we’re close. I now understand the ass-numbing thrill and frustration of riding the equivalent of a John Deere lawn mower for days on end.
We assured the scooter folks that we had certainly driven scooters before although it was pretty clear that we had never even sat on one. Our cover was blown when we couldn’t figure out how to turn it on and asked how to change gears (there are no gears on a scooter). Then, immediately upon turning the engine over, Vinnie took off into traffic and crashed into a cement barrier. The scooter people didn’t appear to care, and for the equivalent of 10 American dollars and our driver’s licenses, we were given the official vehicle of Asia – a beat up grey scooter. And since Vinnie’s foot wasn’t broken, we bypassed the hospital and proceeded down the coast.
We went in search of coastal highway 11 and instead found ourselves inland on the farming oasis that is Highway 9. We slowly learned how to scoot as huge trucks whipped the wind past us and gravel bit into our eyes. Not even the rain could dampen the pure beauty and fun of zipping down Taiwan’s east coast.
After 20 minutes we were surrounded by mountains, huge swathes of tropical farmland and palm trees. We gassed it, passing old timers on rascals and speeding by tiny towns at a top speed of 43.5 miles an hour. Sometimes we stopped to putt down main street, waving to kids and waking up the dogs who didn’t bother to move out of the street. We even dropped by a local cemetery to check out the tiny mausoleums that decorate so many hillsides in Taiwan.
After a few hours of leisurely exploring Highway 9, I found what I was looking for: Ruisui’s famous carbonated Hot Springs. 43 degrees of hot water INDULGENCE.
Hello relaxation and vacation! This is when we really started to cut loose and release all that backpacker tension that had been building up over the last few months. Even better, we had the entire hot springs to ourselves.
And since we’re not in a rush, and we don’t believe in schedules, we decided to stay. We stayed in a real bed. With clean, laundered sheets. And a HOT SPRING IN MY BATHROOM!
Thus began possibly the best part of our trip so far. Our couple interests were finally aligned – maybe for the first time ever! Vinnie loves his scooter and I love my hot springs. Together we can combine these two passions, spending the day scooting to the next hot spring.
And this is how we spend the next two weeks.