Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday Morning Hiking in Miaoli

Sunday morning a group of us took the back roads out to Miaoli to do some easy hiking on the abandoned rail line between the ruined viaduct and Shenghsing train station, now a popular tourist area. I went there briefly last year on a long outing all over Miaoli with my friend Drew, one of the most enjoyable trips I've had, and was looking forward to coming back for some more exploration of the area.[Click on any picture to be taken to its Flickr page and see it in a variety of sizes.]

Drew looks fiercely resolved as we wait for the other members of cast to join yesterday's production in Fengyuan.

Passing through Fengyuan. We took the back way in over the foothills since the typhoon had finally applied the coup de grace to one of the area's most important bridges. As always, on the way I recorded photos of historical importance, such as this one.

Here a politician advertises for the upcoming election. Along the bottom it says that he has a PhD in politics from an overseas university. Degrees are much vaunted symbols of status and accomplishment here.

The haze was awful today, but the shot gives a good idea of what it was like once we got up on the ridges. The views back over Dongshih and the Tachia River were excellent, and on the other side was the reservoir, glimpsed through the trees.

Here's about a minute of riding on a local road. Turn the sound down; the wind and the engine produce a lot of loud, useless noise.

We motored all over creation, got a little lost, got to see some excellent Taiwan countryside.

We arrived at the ruined railway viaduct, a leftover from the Japanese period, long before 10. Thus, there was nobody there.

Drew and Roddick make plans.

Augustin, a new friend hailing from France, readies for the big walk.

Jim of Sponge Bear fame eats up the distance with long strides.

Here's something I've never managed to do before: an insect in flight. It's not a good pic, but I was delighted with it.

A grasshopper enjoys a flower.

The track stretches away into the distance. The walk was several kilometers, along the track and the road that runs parallel.

Lots of other people out today, including locals out working.

Good views of the countryside.

Other hikers too.

There's plenty of infrastructure left over from the Japanese period, including this culvert.

Biking is a new fad here, and we saw groups of bikers everywhere. Most of the bikers are in uniform -- brightly colored bike outfits.

Bikers were not the only brightly colored things around.

The route is now lined with teahouses, B&Bs, and similar.

A butterfly takes a tea break.

Just before Shenghsing station there is a long railway tunnel, 725 meters of darkness. It was packed with hikers using their cellphones as flashlights.

The station is now a major tourist site and has been completely redone with all the kitsch authenticity Taiwan can muster...

The station was packed with people resting....

...picture-taking....

...posing....

....chatting.....

...or just strolling, like these foreign factory workers. Anyone who has taken a train on the weekend has seen the factory workers out and about at tourist sites.

It was getting on toward lunch, and everyone was eating. We determined to head back along the road.

The road was much longer than the track, but facilitated plenty of excellent chatting with the politically engaged Augustin.

The tracks vanish into the green distance.....

Bugs: they grow'em big here.

Unfortunately, this wonderful angle on the dam is ruined by the wires someone has thoughtlessly strung in front of it.

Andrew defies the warnings....

90 seconds of motoring back along the ridges. The first 15 is a little unsteady, and the part where I nearly wrecked looks a bit like the death of Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, but the last 30 seconds contain some nice views, and there's a funny moment where Augustin does some drive-by shooting...

Jim took this shot of Roddick, Andrew, me, Augustin, and Augustin's wife Chou.

We stopped for lunch at the Leftbank (左岸) in Jhuolan (卓蘭), just off the intersection in the town center where five roads come together on Chungshan Rd (中山路). You can see some pics of it on this blog. The food, Thai and Hakka, was good, and the owner promised to put us on his blog, which I unfortunately I cannot find.

2 comments:

Dezhong said...

There are some really great pictures! Remnants of the Japanese period always look interesting.

TaiwanAirPower said...

I think we crossed each other... Jhuolan is my hometown and my parents still live there. I go back there with my family at least once a month, including last weekend. Actually it takes less than one minute to walk to Leftbank (左岸) from my parents' house. Hopefully we can meet next time...