Turquoise waters, soft and blue, stretched out to a distant horizon. An unperturbed ocean lapped steadily along sandy shores. The faintest of breezes murmured over the morning calm. Distant palms on a slight hill gently swayed in an offshore breeze. Pastel clouds of soft grays and powder blues painted the sky. A temporary pause in the rain brought stunning views as I pedaled my way up the hidden gem that is Taiwan’s east coast. I caught a glimpse of it just out of the corner of my eye. The slivers of sand on a solitary beach glimpsed between the trees of to my right. Fleeting bits of solitude such as these are to be savored and not passed by.
Delicate pinks and soft pastel blues paint the skies with horizons fading. Occasional bats and swallows swooping and darting for a meal flash in my periphery. The glass surface of a still pond casts soft reflections of the surrounding trees and intermittent houses.
Life is old in rural China. Ancient villages dot the landscape. Families countless generations deep have grown and harvested tea in these hills and still do today. Traditional life still lives in this land.
Standing on the precipice of time at the end of one year and the beginning of another, I can see the final glimmerings 2017’s twilight falling into the darkness behind me while 2018 lays just ahead in the pre-dawn light. In a moment’s pause, I look over my shoulder to cast a few final furtive backward glances into the looking glass before moving on. Who are you? What have you done with the time given you? Where will you go and what will you do with the time remaining?
It’s those special mornings on the road when you’re up before dawn in the early morning hours out chasing the light. Camera in hand, walking in the sand along a quiet beach are those extraordinary moments to be savored and remembered.
Late winter in Hainan, China’s most southern province, brings with it a dense morning fog that hangs in the air over land and sea well into midday. A thin, golden light dances on soft ripples gently lapping at the shore. There are no crashing waves here. Salty wisps of a fresh sea breeze touch the senses. Cool moisture in the dawning air makes the pilings weep and wet to the touch.
Darkness was coming but the howling headwind whipping at my body and had pounded me for the past fourteen hours refused to abate.
Standing over my bike while leaning into the vicious wind, I swigged down the last of the hot water from my canteen. I had eaten the remaining Snicker bar about an hour ago. The red bitumen and surrounding the desert floor radiated latent heat from a scorching afternoon.
Forty kilometers of the open desert still lay between me and the roadhouse at Cadney Park, the day’s destination I should have arrived at three or four hours ago. But the fierce headwind had had me crawling across the desert floor at a snail’s pace. Now, several hours of riding in the dark stood ahead of me.
Osaka Castle, or Osakajo, is a 16th-century fortress that lies in the middle of the steel and glass towers of modern Osaka. At one time, the bastion was the largest castle in Japan.
Over the centuries, the stronghold has endured attacks, been burned down, and left decades in a state of ruin. Remarkably, the stone and earthen ramparts somehow survived city-wide aerial bombardments and air raids during World War II. After the war, the city gradually restored the castle to one of Japan’s famous landmark it is today.
With the autumn closing in, the evening temperatures dropped quickly. The first pockets of crisp night air bit at our noses as we made our way along the banks of the Katsura River.
The landscape grew a deep gold. Looking back over my left shoulder, I caught a glimpse of the sun’s light fading. There’s a certain feeling I get when I look to the west while the sun is setting.