Monday, July 02, 2007

Yungho and Yangmingshan

A dragonfly rests on our clothesline.

Friday the news reached our household that my mother in law took a bad fall and hit her head on a bit of wall that slashed across the local sidewalks, a bit of wall that I've been stepping over for 18 years. We zoomed up to Yungho outside of Taipei to make sure she was OK, but fortunately she was only mildly concussed and bruised. Could have been a lot worse.

With mom safe and sound, we headed over to one of my favorite places on the island, this night market in Yungho, where my wife and first started dating, which I think occurred sometime in the late Yuan Dynasty. Is marriage really forever, or does it just feel that way?

I've never lost my love of night markets, and judging from the crowds, neither have the locals.

Shoppers throng the sidewalks. Taiwan is so sluggish by day, and so vital by night.

The next morning I grabbed the camera and took a walk. Construction workers hard at work next door. You can forget about afternoon naps when they are refurbishing the house next door.

Look! Law enforcement! Living in Taichung I wouldn't know very much about that.

One of Yungho's most interesting streets is this one right next to the Dingxi Metro stop. There's a Starbucks at one end, and all along it, wholesalers of Korean clothing.

Yungho also offers some of the finest alleys in a city full of them.

Someday, my Taipei alley book will sweep the world.

All over Yungho, thousands of vendors are busy readying for the lunch and dinner customers.

Originally we had evolved a grandiose plan to go camping on Yangmingshan and attend a geocaching event with the Bushman and his lovely new wife. Unfortunately we were in such a rush to get out on Friday that we forgot everything. When I got back on Monday I found the gods of karma had extracted their revenge for our forgetfulness: our cat had trashed the house since we also forgot to close all the doors.

The geocache event organizers had left some new caches on Yangmingshan for us to find. The first geocache was hidden near this geothermal field on Yangmingshan. Michael's tale is here.

Hibiscus, a local weed.

The desolate wastes of the fumoroles and vents. Yangmingshan is a group of volcanoes whose salad days lie 300,000 years in the past. Is it dead? Scientists aren't entirely sure:

True that the Tatun volcanoes have been extinct for a very long time, but by virtue of new research findings, the possibility of periodic re-eruptions can be no longer ruled out. First of all, such geothermal activities as hot springs and gas fumaroles are certainly still very wide-spread on the surface (Chen and Wu 1971). Added to this, the volcanic evolutionary history of Taiwan shows the Tatun volcanoes could be reactivated simply on the grounds that two major eruptions have occurred in the past few million years. Finally, recent geochemical analyses of fumarole gas further show that the Helium isotopic ratios are very high (Yang 2000), indicating some magma chambers might still exist beneath the Tatun volcanoes. Such geological and geochemical observations as these suggest that active magma chambers probably lie beneath the volcano group (Song et al. 2000b).

After a few minutes diligent search, we discovered the cache. We left our names and a trinket, as the rules demand.

My wife poses in the brutal morning sun.

Seems like everyone was hunting for some shade.

Nothing like the smell of hydrogen sulfide to improve the atmosphere of the local card game.

Because no place is too remote or too dangerous to have concrete slathered all over it.

Old accumulations of minerals line a path.

A shrine to the earth god.

At 350 meters altitude, the day was too hot and hazy to see Taipei very clearly, even though it was only a few kilometers away.

Yangmingshan is covered with spas and baths.

A mountain road.

There are 200 Starbucks on the island, and Taipei hosts over 150 of them.

Steam vents line the roads up the mountains.

It's three klicks as the crow flies, but fifteen if you drive.

At 700 meters the fog blotted out the views.

Fog obscured even nearby peaks.

Another cache was concealed near the famous Milk Lake. Here people park to walk several of the excellent hiking trails that work their way up the steep mountain slopes. Me, I love mountain climbing. I could watch it all day long.

Insect PDA.

In the cool shade visitors napped, meditated, and chatted the afternoon away.

Beautiful views in every direction.

Chemical runoff from the hot springs has stained this lake white, hence the name.

This guy posed patiently for me no matter how close I got.

I've always considered these treeless slopes to be strikingly beautiful.

As we snacked at the visitors center, another staple of Taiwan's scenic areas arrived.

After we located the second cache, we headed over to Tienmu to meet the Taiwan geocachers here in this gated community outside of Tienmu.

The geocachers catch a breather before heading out for dinner. In the center (yellow) is the redoubtable RJT, the organizer of this year's geocaching event, Taiwan Geocaching Woodstock II. They were a great, close-knit bunch.

Many of the homes here are quite retro.

Our delicious dinner, including that Yangmingshan specialty, little mantou, small steamed buns. They are totally different from normal large steamed buns because they are....smaller. No doubt they are a specialty of the mountain area because so much wheat is grown on Yangmingshan....not.

Night, and my wife and I out on a date to the night market in Yungho. Here a vendor offers puppies for sale.

All is movement around the saxophone.

What will you have?

BBQed prawns.

Everything's colorful in a Taiwan night market.

And the crowds wander along, everyone unable to decide what to eat.


MJ Klein said...

as active as the geothermal area appears to me without instruments, it would not surprise me if there was an eruption of magma someday. something has got to be going on down there.

too bad that with all the concrete, nobody bothered to harness the free power.

Anonymous said...

Re: local specialties and mantous.

There's a mantou store near me (Taichung city) that sells mantous made from goat milk. They sell them to farms around central Taiwan who then sell them to gullible tourists.

Anonymous said...

Did you try the puppies? They look delicious!