Saturday, July 13, 2013

Taoyuan Pond Ride

A while back I wrote a post about the Ponds of Taoyuan which I've always liked and which inspired me to contemplate riding around and photographing the ponds. You should read that post as a backgrounder to this ride. With that post in mind, this Thursday I took the HSR up to Taoyuan to get some pics of these historical sites. For a camera, I took only my trusty Powershot S95. Click on READ MORE below in order to, well, read more.

It was gorgeous day in Taoyuan, a landscape done in shades of green and blue. I got off the HSR at the station near Chungli and went south to the 112, totally jazzed to be riding on such a nice day. My plan was to photograph ponds along the 112 and then follow that down to the sea, then go to Taipei and spend the night.

I turned onto the 112 and then onto a little lane and found this pond, my first pond. Not very inspiring, really. Luckily this was the ugliest pond I encountered all day.

In many places ponds were divided by roads, like here. The area is criss-crossed by roads and is a plateau, completely flat.

Taoyuan is a booming factory land. Every little road was studded with them.

No swimming. I had hoped to find a diversity of plant life, but actually the plants around the ponds were pretty much the same subset of identical scraggly brown weeds.

The ponds have all been redone in this concrete and stone style.

Lots of streams and watercourses criss-cross the area.

And irrigation ditches too.

Almost every pond I looked at hosted fish-catching equipment and water aeration machinery.

Rte 112. Not recommended, take the parallel roads to the east. It's the usual car repair and betel nut nightmare of Taiwan truck routes.

There are plenty of old San He Yuan style houses lying around. Indeed, if you find a pond, there's usually an old house nearby, marked by big stands of bamboo. Someone dumped some old playground equipment at this old house....

The fields were being plowed and egrets were out in force.

Dammit, I know there's a pond to the left, but I can't find any access to it.

A well cared for old house integrated into a more modern structure, a common solution in Taiwan.

A splendid complex of old buildings.

This set of older structures ringed a pond.

This pond was used for raising tilapia, wu guo yu. There they are furiously schooling at one end of the pond.

The ponds act as a reserve irrigation system.

Taking a break.

These buildings are all cages for pigeons. The biggest complex for pigeons I've seen so far.

Tearing down a building exposes its brick guts.

The plateau.

The county has designated some roads as bike paths and put in fakey fencing. But there's no denying it gives a nice atmosphere to the area.

Need to get around a pond? This is the answer.

A smaller pond.

With the typhoon coming, they had to make hay while the sun shone....

A very large pond overshadowed by lovely cloud formations. I was surprised by how big they were, I actually expected them to be much smaller.

In the background, the pond; in the foreground, the irrigation facilities that appeared around many ponds I saw.

I slowly worked my way over to the 15, which passes behind the Taoyuan International Airport.

Rte 15 cuts right through the center of this pond.

I followed Rte 15 until it hit the coast highway, the 61, and then turned east towards Taipei.

It looks nice on a pretty day, but 61 is a desolation. Not recommended.

Finally, I rolled into Bali and then on to Taipei. A gorgeous day for both history and riding.
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Paul Sharpe said...

Nice post Michael. Enjoyed the pictures and also learning about the history of the ponds. Certainly seems like a nice ride out there. Maybe can put that on my riding radar in the next few months. Certainly didn't seem to have too many big climbs.

Sorry I couldn't join you on Friday to ride around Taipei but family commitments have caught up. Hope to meet and ride with you soon.


Mike Fagan said...

So there were channels issuing from the ponds for reserve irrigation - did you follow any of them? Also were there any channels connecting the ponds to nearby streams, or even connecting the ponds to each other? Or are the ponds independent of one another?

Note on jargon...

I always use the word "canal" to refer to a channel carrying water toward land for irrigation and I use the word "ditch" to refer to a channel carrying water away from irrigated land. I don't bother with etymology for this distinction, instead it comes from thinking of the verb form "to ditch" meaning "to eject" or "get rid of".

If the two words are used interchangably, then there's no reason to have two words rather than one. Yet there are two functionally different types of water channel and it makes sense to distinguish them with two different words.