Monday, December 10, 2012

Biking Weekend in the South

Went offline for a couple of days to visit friends down south and test my new toy, my Tokina 100mm macro as a travel lens. We're heading for Sabah again in February, perhaps to ride the length of North Borneo (if you'd like to come, contact me), so I thought I'd see how the lens worked on the road. Meanwhile had a great time revisiting some nifty little places I'd enjoyed two years ago when I did Pingtung County for the County government. Click on the READ MORE for more more more.

On Saturday night we stopped at the market to pick up some fruit. This vendor posed for me as I hunted for things to photo.

Sunday morning I headed out to Pingtung to pick up my friend Paul Snyder, who worked in Taiwan in the 1980s and also biked around the island then. The day was overcast and cool, good biking weather.

Pigeons undergoing training for Taiwan's brutal pigeon races, the world's toughest.

Stopping on the Kaoping Bridge between Pingtung and Kaohsiung.

I popped into the temple by the train station while I waited for Paul to see what there was to shoot. Lots.

Paul is kind enough to ride a Bike Friday with twenty inch wheels so that he doesn't blow me away on the road.

We left Pingtung on the indescribable nightmare of Rte 1, then quickly ducked off onto a side road in the direction of the mountains. After a couple of kilometers we wound up on this bike path that slashed through the fields to the south. Obviously a former rail line.

We turned under Highway 3 where there is a very pleasant bike path that runs past the Hakka Cultural Center, which is a combination tourist trap and vote buying device thrilling experience for visitors of all ages.

Paul can hardly contain his joy at finding himself at the Hakka Cultural Center.

Cruising past duck farms....

...for romantic shots with ducks and mountains. You just can't beat shots like this.

Absolutely flat.

We worked our way down to Neipu, where we had lunch. These were the largest dan bing I have ever eaten. After that it was off to Wanjin to visit the Basilica.

On the way to Wanjin we ran into this massive traffic jam.

As luck would have it, we arrived in the midst of a massive Catholic festival for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

As you enter Wanjin there's a wonderful mural on the left hand building as you face the Basilica down the street (whole pic in this post).

As we stood there admiring its melange of cultural elements, the artist who painted it came out to say hello and describe to us in English how she had painted many paintings on the street, was going to school at Donghai, had worked as a social worker in Nanao on the east coast, and was running a studio right there in town. A Hakka, she is also a Catholic. We learned many other things about her, but I'll leave them for you to find out when you visit Wanjin.

A feast day indeed.

In Taiwan, the medium of festive expression is the night market.

An overflow crowd.

There was a statue of Mary in the mix of religious and cultural elements that makes the area so interesting, to venerate, which in modern terms means photograph. All I can say is that it's a good thing Christianity came to put an end to the horrors of idol worship.

The crush.

We arrived at midday. Everyone was sitting down to a lunchbox and good company.

A lad lunches.

I got her to smile, but she wouldn't look at the camera.

Femmes old....

...and young abounded.

It was hard for me to find Paul in the crowd.

But eventually we hooked up and hit the road.

Next stop: the Hakka village of Wugou (lots of pics in this post) .

The Wugou area is littered with old buildings.

An incense burner.

Decorative tile.

I took Paul over to the old school.

Above the school doors.

An old house.

A common feature of older houses.

Heading back to Neipu, we stopped by the traffic circle on 187 to grab some tea.

Leaving the mountains behind....

...and rocketing back up Rte 1....

...then the bike path back to the city.

Past the gravel trucks onto the Kaoping bridge...

...over the bridge and back to Michael's house to shower...

...and then onto the Kaohsiung MRT, where only the coolest people can ride.... hotpot with friends.

Great weekend -- hope to share one with YOU soon!
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pics and stories