Sunday, May 02, 2010

Two Trips, Two Taiwans

Hooray for the Central Weather Bureau! May it always be so wrong. I had originally planned to go to conferences and meetings all weekend since the CWB had assured us for a week that this weekend's weather would bring thunderstorms everywhere except, as it worked out towards the week's end, Saturday in Hualien. So Friday I proposed an impromptu trip to Hualien for my friend Jeff and I, since it would be enjoying fine weather, and me eager to be back out on a bike after more than a week with no biking.

Sunday, with the CWB 0 for 2 on forecasts, I took an easy ride out to Dajia, in deference to my sore butt and knee from the ride the day before. Here, near the famous Matsu temple, crowds grab a snack.

But the weather looked so good on Friday night that we decided to nix Hualien and just bike down the coast to Jiaoxi, have lunch, and then return, putting in a good 150 kms. I borrowed a mountain bike from Jeff's wife. Our ride to Jiaoxi and back was killed when, on our way out of town, the chain broke, forcing us to waste more than an hour waiting for shops to open so we could get it fixed. Here it sits, forlornly chainless.

On Sunday in Dachia the streets were packed.

Fortunately a car repair shop opened early on a Saturday and we were able to get it repaired for nothing, by an English-speaking car repair man, no less. Here he is hard at work.

A small engine repair shop fronts a major intersection in Dajia.

Off we went down the coast.

I left Dajia and headed for my favorite part of this ride, seven or eight kilometers of empty rice fields along the Dajia River.

I love the NW coast road, though it is crowded with trucks and weekend day trippers on Saturdays.

The irrigation ditches here are all covered. To keep birds out?

Outside Keelung, a betel nut girl abandons her stall for a chat on the phone.

An old farmstead cut off by the road.

Caution! Bats crossing.

A local on a motorcycle crosses in front of me.

It was trucks all day long. In the narrow confines of the tunnels along the coast the boom and clang of trucks terrifies me.

Still serene emptiness of rice fields and hillsides.

The flotsam and jetsam of work.

Somebody's backyard.

Through a tunnel.

Along a dike.

The wild cliffs.

Highway 3 vanishes into the distance.

In many places people were drying seaweed.

Here and there farmers were out spraying pesticides



Squeezing into the traffic in a small town.

Under highway 3, the government has made a playground.

When we got to Fulong we hit the trails, but nowhere does it say that the suspension bridge is closed, meaning you can't get to Fulong along the bike trails.

After Highway 3 I got on the dike, since the road ahead appeared blocked by construction.

So we headed through a little village back to the coast highway.

Excellent views on this detour.

At Fulong we turned back -- there was no way I could continue further with the pain in my rear and knee -- and because the sky looked ominous. Anyone know why the smokestack/cooling tower at the nuke plant there needs a gantry? Is it some secret Taiwan space launch program?

Construction had destroyed the road. Hard to imagine what sort of permanent structure was being built here.

The weather held on the way back.

An egret pauses on a lovely summer afternoon.

Highlight of the day: the bride & groom being photo'd on the coast. As they walked by back to their car I said Gong xi! The groom gravely said "thank you" while the bride started giggling as they walked away: "He said gongxi! He said gongxi!"

"What are you looking at?" he asked me, not so much in challenge as in disbelief that anyone would come here for the view.

At the same time a tourist van stopped to disgorge a group of tourists, apparently from the Subcontinent. This lovely couple was obviously having a very good time.

There are never many people around, and it is very quiet, one reason I love this stretch of road so much.

Jeff nursed a flat for several kms until we hit a scooter repair place. Here he is adding air.

Need a rest?

In front of the old copper processing facility, note how eroded the concrete beach protectors have become in just a few years.

A vista of concrete pillars, the HSR falls away into the distance. One wonders how the HSR will hold up over time.

The copper processing facility and the hills behind it.

Not just rice: cabbages too.

Our day ended at Keelung harbor, endlessly photogenic.

Before I turned uphill to climb up to the escarpment, I stopped to chat with an old farmer bringing fertilizer down on his bicycle. Another satisfying ride under a warm Taiwan sun.

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MJ Klein said...

i never have a sore butt riding a trike. time for a bent? (can't say i told you so)

Leslie said...

I just moved to Shanghai...

I miss Taiwan. Love the photos.

Michael Turton said...

MJ, the bike was borrowed. I never have a sore butt on my own bike.

mx said...

Awesome pics MT, Thanks for sharing.

INCOMING!!!!!!! said...

Love your stuff MT. Kind Regards.