I've spent the last week traversing the longitudinal entirety of Taiwan. A new bed every night, hours in a car each day, probably close to ten thousand meters of cumulative elevation change. A swim in the Pacific ocean, hikes in both the Hsueshan and Alishan mountain ranges and a plethora of terrestrial, aquatic and benthic organisms ingested. Besides the mild exhaustion resulting from a week of traveling over eight thousand miles (ok I admit some of that was in a plane) I feel enthused about extending my stay here an additional two weeks. At least now I get to sleep in the same bed each night.
While here I've managed to make some very important new connections with researchers and also reconnect with some who I already know... I have also managed, by the greater grace of who knows what, to acquire a newly expanded dataset provided by the researchers at a certain eastern hemisphere oil company. This of course is data that only a handful of western scientists (read: three of us) have access to and is not published anywhere (at least not in English-language journals) so I have decided to extend my stay here another two weeks in order to work closely with the people who have been instrumental in this acquisition. The goal, as it stands, is to reach some new understanding of this information and be able to act on it immediately while I can still meet with the creators of it face to face and ask questions, so that when I get back to Colorado I am able to synthesize everything into a paper which incorporates my existing/previous works and the new info. Exciting, a bit daunting, but overall very positive. ...perhaps "fuckin' awesome" is a better descriptor. I'll be submitting a manuscript to 'Tectonics' hopefully by the end of the summer.
On a side note, I'd like to share something that made me laugh out loud recently. While driving over the Alishan range our group stopped for lunch at 2500 meters, near the terminus of the train-line that joins WuShan Mountain to ChiaYi city. The weather up there was a welcome escape from the sweltering foreland of Taiwan; so often swamped by high humidity and crushed by the weight of this planets tropical latitude atmosphere. In stark contrast to the lowlands, the mountain parks offer breathable air and cooler climes worthy of light sweaters and rain parkas (in Taipei, wearing GoreTex gives one the sense of being zipped into a body-bag with an electric steam-iron). We chose a small restaurant that looked inviting and most importantly offered some refuge from the ceaseless drizzle and served hot Oolong tea. A quick scan of the menu (which had english transliterations) showed that there were the standard assortment of traditional chinese dishes, but also some more interesting offerings of aboriginal taiwanese origin... the second item in this list really caught my eye:
I ended up going for the stir fried wild boar, which was quite tasty. I decided to leave the fried guts (from an unspecified animal) for another time.