My first introduction to Van Life was just recently with my friend, Dane. Living in Taipei comes with many advantages but me being a country boy; I tend to miss the simpler things in life, such as grass. The concrete jungle can swallow you whole, getting out is good for the soul.
First, a bit of a back story – I’ve known Dane for half a decade but we never really had the opportunity to become friends or even talk for that matter, other than casual exchanges of “hellos” and “see ya laters” at work. Now that I returned to Taiwan for my second go-round I started reaching out to friends from the past that were still here. Dane being one of them, I remember he used to have a motorcycle so I hit him up asking if he still had a bike.
To sum up what he said – “Nope, I’ve upgraded.” I thought this was preposterous! “What could be better than a motorcycle?”
Van Life. That’s the new answer.
Let me explain. No ‘dis’ on motorcycles, I promise because I am still a firm believer in having 2 wheels to get around town. BUT…
VanLife is a type of freedom that I only had back home in east Tennessee.
I am used to hopping in my car and heading out, recently before I returned to Taiwan, I made a 2,000 mile plus (+3,200km) road trip from East Tennessee to Los Angeles. I stopped to visit Roswell, NM (didn’t see any aliens unfortunately #StormArea51) then went on to White Sands National Park, NM and finally made it on to Los Angeles – where I stayed for a few weeks before hopping on a plane to settle in Taiwan. It was a road trip of a lifetime, to drive for the most part completely across the USA.
How is this relevant to Van Life? Well, for my inter-US road trip I was driving a car. Albeit a full size sedan, it was a comfort and experience I only saw as feasible in the USA. I made excuses as to why I didn’t need a car here in Taiwan. Here are some common beliefs I had; “I can’t find parking, parking is too expensive, I don’t need a car, a motorcycle is all I need, it’s not realistically affordable, insurance?”~~ and so on. A vehicle other than a motorcycle just didn’t seem worth the hassle, and the benefits didn’t appear to outweigh the effort. That was until Dane picked me up in his Van.
Over text, he had mentioned his business vaguely, but the main focus of our first trip was just to have a good time. After he picked me up I immediately saw the value in a van. He had his tent, sleeping bags, a cooler full of ice and drinks, and as an added bonus I could charge my nearly dead phone. I was sold from the beginning.
My thoughts went from “Oh coollllll a van” to “Okay, I am only working in Taiwan, not LIVING in Taiwan!”.
This realization was profound, it was as if a piece of myself I had been lacking, a piece of my identity that I was unaware of. Now everything was coming together, good friends, mutual vision and a means to explore uninhibited. There was an entire side of Taiwan that was previously unavailable to me. I want to take this moment to say thank you to Dane for expanding my perception of Taiwan’s potential and for introducing me to Van Life. This is an honest and sincere thank you, not just fluff for this blog post. This is not to say that our trips have went without conflict or obstacles to overcome; more on that soon.
Our first trip was a short trip to Yilan, Waiao Beach. It was not a planned trip and it was more or less spur of the moment. This is the excitement and freedom “Our Daily Van” can offer. There I was sitting at my apartment with nothing to do, I was either going to go to the gym or just play video games (tough decisions). Then Dane texted me, “wanna take a trip to The Wormhole?” Say no more, “I’m down!” I didn’t even know what a wormhole was, but anything that will break the monotony is better.
He picked me up and off we went, headed to The Wormhole. It’s a popular swimming area in the jungle, its supposed to have crystal blue deep water and be a top spot for locals and tourist for adventure outside the city.We arrived but the rain was too heavy from the previous days and the water was too rough.
Basically The Wormhole had become a gushing portal to drowning. The only “wormhole” there would have been a wormhole to the afterlife. So he suggested “Let’s go to Yilan.”
I hadn’t been to a beach in Taiwan outside of a small little beach in Keelung. I was down for anything beyond staying in the city. So off we went.We arrived later in the evening, set up camp, had a few beers and met some new friends.
I met some surfers and ended up partying with to the following morning. They gave me a crash course on surfing. Another first for me, I had an awesome time, learned the basics of surfing. On the beach there was a rad dude named Ming, he is a videographer. We chatted for a while and he showed me his YouTube Channel called Formossa. Shoutout to MING!
To sum up the first Vanlife trip, it was a great introduction. The full realization of its value was to come next time. This is where things got good and the challenge was presented.