Jui Fang
Michael's parents agonised over whether to accept Michael's invitation to join him, Peter and Kristina in Cambodia.   In the end they decided not to. They were simply too travel-weary, having spent several months overseas over the previous year, and did not relish the three-stage trip to Phnom Penh.   Also, they felt that two slow-moving, comfort-loving sexagenarians would cramp the style of the active younger generation.   So they passed.   Now, of course, they deeply regret missing their one opportunity to share this time with Michael in his element.

Meanwhile, Michael was getting in some sightseeing and social life in his last few weeks in Taiwan . . .

Michael (email 10 May 02):  Everyone OK?   I'm going down south for a couple of days with some friends to the mountain town of Ilan, should be cool.   Happy mothers day, Mum!

(email 22 May 02):  Hello, my dears.   Yes, I'll be leaving here next Sunday, about 10 days time.  I just got back from a wedding of one of my co-workers.  It was a noisy, crowded occasion, very much a typical Taiwanese affair, with lots of Karaoke singing.   The piece de resistance was the MC, clad in a little pink frock, harassing members of the audience who completely ignored her!

Apart from this I've actually been having a pretty good time lately.   The last 2 weekends I've travelled south into the mountains, once with Michelle, and the other time with a friend I met in India.   I've seen some amazing mountain scenery, swam under spectacular waterfalls, and soaked in some heavenly natural hotsprings.

I will be glad to leave though, I have to admit.   I need a change from this version of Chinese culture.   I have a lot more to say on this topic (no, it's not all bad!), but not now.   Love, Mike.

Among the photos that Michael sent home from Taiwan is the following one of him leading the Karaoke singing at the wedding . . .

As Michelle was to tell Michael's family later, the trip with her that he refers to above was to Hua Lien and the Taroko Gorge, on the east coast of Taiwan.   Michael's family spent a few days there in December 2002 and took very similar photographs of the spectacular marble-laced walls of the gorge (see below).   This is regarded as the major scenic attraction on the island.   Hua Lien is the largest city on the east coast, but is very relaxed and laid back compared to Taiwan.

Michael's plans for leaving were now taking shape.

Michael (email 24 May 02):  Well, I'll be going straight from Taiwan to Phnom Penh.   I then plan to head south to a quiet beach somewhere to de-Taiwanate for a week or so before hooking up with our young master Peter and his woman on the 10th.   I got all the ashram stuff, and all is going to plan for my 6 month stay in October, thanx.   Can't wait!   Toodles, M.

And that was Michael's last email from Taiwan.   He packed a large parcel and sent it to his home in Australia.   In it were his winter clothes, many books, hundreds of photographs and negatives, and a few accumulated mementos of his stay.   These are now in a special corner of his parents' home in Sydney.

After seven months in the one place, Michael at last was able to revert to the backpacker lifestyle as he headed westwards to Cambodia for a reunion with his brother.   His ultimate destination, however, was India, the country he regarded as his spiritual home.

Taroko Gorge


Photos                             Michael's photos of Taiwan

June 2002                        Phnom Penh to Bangkok