Monday, July 23, 2007

Outdoor Sunday

On Sunday morning I got up bright and early to meet David Reid downtown and head to Keelung to do some hiking with Keelung local history expert Jeff Miller. Here David grins as Jeff shoots.

Jeff drove us up onto the east flank of Yangmingshan for a hike to a waterfall. The path follows an irrigation network at the beginning, and is paved.

It was a good day for dragonflies.

There were plenty of people about, and we had a good time chatting with everyone we ran into.

The pavement soon ended and up we went through tall grass and then forest.

In addition to the dragonflies, other hunters prowled the stream.

This cute little bug rests on an important plant: indigo. During the 19th century Taiwan had a thriving trade in indigo, Jeff said, and the Chinese clothiers would send their raw cloth here to be dyed.

Davidson has an extensive section on Indigo in the 19th century in The Island of Formosa Past and Present, a book which should be in every library. By the late 19th century indigo was third in importance as an export after rice and coal, and first in value. However, it was produced in hill districts, where growers encountered problems with the aborigines, and later, it was supplanted by tea, necessitating imports from Swatow (now Shantou in China). Davidson said that domestic demand grew as Taiwan became wealthier as the century grew to close. It was never a plantation crop like it was elsewhere, in India, for example, but was grown as a side crop by farmers. The island also exported over 50,000 kilos of seed annually in his day (1890s). Davidson excoriates Taiwan for its lack of technological innovation, a problem that plagued many of the island's industries. Indigo in Taiwan was produced in the least valuable "mud cake" form by technology that was nowhere near as complex as that for producing sugar, but the Taiwanese never improved it. When the Japanese came in they converted indigo production to then-modern methods.

What is this fruit?

Jeff said that the trail was used from time to time by the water buffalo that are said to roam about Yangmingshan. However, I saw no water buffalo fewmets. The jury is still out in my book.

Jeff and David plot a path to the waterfall.

At the waterfall we found something really cool: a group of friends who had gotten together to explore the stream. They were rappelling up and down the waterfall, and were using safety equipment. Amazing. It was great to see so many people enjoying the great outdoors, a good harbinger for the future here.

The crisp water of the falls made for good swimming.

As Jeff and I look on, the group proceeds upstream.

Sensitive, soft-spoken, friendly, and relaxed. David.

Another group appears.

Washing lunch.

Waiting for lunch.

It jumped up to say hello. Probably wanted to be featured on my blog...

Jeff hunts creatures in the rocks.

Dragonflies face off.

Jeff checks for a shot.

More friends made on the trail. The great thing about Taiwanese is how quick they are to offer you food and drink and conversation.

Lots of families on outings.

The wings like broken leaves. Mimicry in nature never ceases to amaze.

After getting back to the car, we took off down Yangmingshan to the beach.

Here we are outside of Wanli, north of Keelung.

It's good to have a backyard, for storage.

The beach. In the distance can be seen some of those fiberglass UFO houses.

It's a good thing the beach was marked no swimming, no BBQing.....

In the tradition of sands and colossal wrecks stands this abandoned resort hotel, right on the beach. In the US such a place would be worth a fortune. Jeff said he'd been talking to a local historian who pointed out that Taiwan, alone among the Pacific islands, has a "mainland" culture -- its "islanders" are focused on the land, not the sea. Consequently the sea plays little if any role, including recreationally, in the lives of all these people who live so close to it.

On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, with temps in the high 30s, the beach is empty compared to what it might be in Australia or the US.

Fun, fun, fun. Naturally the take-off point for these guys was right next to the place where everyone was swimming.

We piled back in Jeff's car and headed out to a point further north, not far from the famous rock formations of Yehliu -- which are inferior to those of Hoping Island. But nobody seems to know about Hoping Island, thankfully. Here a truck snarls traffic. Obviously Jesus had never seen Taiwanese truck drivers, or he would have never made his famous remark about camels and needles.

There are good views of the bay from the other side.

Plenty of interesting rock formations.

Ships on their way out.

The sandstone, with its elegant curves, looks more like series of studies for a nude than naked rock.

Jeff has had too much sun....

Jeff and David enjoy themselves.

In the distance are the formations at Yehliu.


The government put a blockhouse above the road, carved into the sandstone of the hill.

After a long day of hiking and climbing.

People hard at work swimming beyond the no swimming sign. I guess it didn't specifically forbid snorkeling....

....Or scuba diving. This place looks like a great swimming hole, with plenty to explore. It's between the Howard Plaza Hotel and Yehliu, right on the road to Yehliu.


cfimages said...

Nice shots. Did you notice if that abandoned resort is accessible in any way? My quest to visit cool looking abandoned sites all over Taiwan needs a few more locations.

The hike looked good too. No spiders this time?

somimi said...

Very nice pictures!

Those fruits look like figs... just my guess, though, I'm not very good with plants.

I've been meaning to take a hike up Yangmingshan! It looks beautiful.