Todd waits for me to finish a shot as Cathy looks for bugs to photo.

Another gorgeous central Taiwan day dawned on Sunday, so my friend Drew and I motored up to Nantou to see Todd of The Daily Bubble Tea, a popular local expat blog, and his girlfriend fiance Catherine. I’m happy to announce that they are engaged to be married.

Leaving Taichung, I spotted this Graveyard of the Machines.

Crops ripening in the morning sun…

Not all betel nut people are hot chicks.

Nantou always presents stirring scenes of steep mountains and graveled riverbeds (composite of three pictures)

Todd and Cathy live in Chunghsinghsintsun, the town built as the “provincial” administrative capital and now full of retired government workers living in what was once plush housing on tree-lined streets.

On Sundays this park is crowded with families and children. Here vendors are set up with all sorts of balls and balloons for the incoming horde.

We decided to go motoring through the mountains, taking Nantou 17 from highway 14 over a low ridge, and then down the other side. Unfortunately I turned the wrong way and we ended up taking Nantou 22 back to Nantou town. But the ride was great….

Once you gained a little altitude, the views were excellent.

Here Todd gets ready to take a shot.

Nantou 17 was lined with graveyards along most of the opening portion of its length.

Here I panned one of the them, as Drew stops to inspect the tombs.

A burner.

We found this amazing tomb at a bend in the road. Tigers, lions, elephants, zebras, and pandas stand guard over it.

Here’s a close up of one of the lions.

Another interesting tomb was this one. Connected to the famous Lin families of both Banchiao and Changhua? Or just a coincidence of names?

The mountains loom in the distance, range piled on range.

It’s no exaggeration to describe the area as Land of Betel Nut. The ridges were covered with betel nut palms.

Cathy turned out to be a woman after my own heart, who loves to photograph bugs. Here she and Todd draw a bead…

…on this lovely bug.

It wouldn’t be too bad having this view to contemplate for all eternity.

Here’s a panorama from that spot.

A temple straddles the road.

Some of the countryside.

After the hard going, we retired to a local Hakka place for draft Tiger beer and some good fried food. Don’t they make a cute couple? UPDATE: I meant Todd and Cathy, not the beer and food, you wiseasses.

Drew tells a story.

As we returned to Taichung, I grabbed this shot of the new highway running through the valley, inching toward completion in the distance…

Drew and I took Rte. 136 back to Taiping, one of my favorite local roads (last blogged on here). Plenty of good mountain scenery, little traffic, and lots of curves. The only thing that could possibly disturb you is a wasp flying into your helmet and stinging you by the ear as you cruised in a zone of utter contentment, making you slam on the brakes and then wreck with a loud shout and innumerable bruises. Fortunately nothing like that happened to me.