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Jiji (集集), Nantou County

I arrived tired and took an extra day in Jiji. It was supposed to be relaxing, but after walking along the tracks to the ‘green scenic area,’ I walked to Wucheng Temple, and then walked to Zhenguo Temple, which, with the gift of hindsight, I can tell you was a big mistake. It was way too far. By the time I arrived, I was a sweaty mess such that the nuns looked alarmed and started feeding me fruit and water. In the end they invited me to represent Canada in some kind of international Buddhist faith expo happening in April, and I may just accept. They also offered to give me a ride back to town.

A Jiji tip: Don’t make my mistake; rent a bike. There are lots of bike lanes and trails everywhere, and I should have taken the hint.  Continue reading

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Birdwatching in Budapest

This story is second in a series of ‘travel mythologies’ that seek to blend travel writing with local mythology. Art by Jono Hunt.

Birdwatching in Budapest / Zachary Fillingham / 2013

It wasn’t easy convincing my wife to visit Budapest.

At fault were a few lingering misconceptions, most of which could trace their lineage all the way back to the Cold War. It didn’t matter that I spent the first 13 years of my life there. Budapest was simply on the wrong side of Europe. She wanted Paris or Geneva – with their plazas, cafes, book stalls, and the street corners where this or that artist famously succumbed to exposure – not the Soviet brutalism and soggy cabbage rolls of an imagined Eastern Europe.

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Taichung (台中) by Day

Taichung has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Located roughly halfway up the island, it’s Taiwan’s third-largest metropolitan area and a place I’ve passed through a several times before. These visits tended to be weekend debauches with foreign friends, and apart from the all-you-can-drink night clubs and a wonderful deli (“Fingaz!” was the old clarion call for any southward trip), Taichung always struck me as a bland urban sprawl.

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