Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Election Day Hike

On election day, rather than torture myself by waiting for the election returns, I went hiking in Keelung to visit some of the old military structures in the area and hang out with my good friends Jeff Miller, Michael Fahey, and an Englishman named Laurence, of the Petrochemical Industry. (As always, click on any pic to be taken to its Flickr page)

Our day began, as every day should, with an all-you-can-eat breakfast.

We headed out to Marine University in Keelung. The hills behind it are honeycombed with tunnels and carpeted with the works of successive colonial regimes: the Qing, the Japanese, and the KMT.

This is what a hiking trail should be: easily negotiated.

It should also offer plenty of bugs....

...like this snail.

The day was unfortunately too hazy for good photography.

This set of structures dates back to the Japanese period and apparently remained in use under the KMT as well.

As Michael observed, in the US, an area like this so close to a university would be carpeted in beer bottles and other paraphernalia of student partying. Not in Taiwan.

It practically cries out for a nude model. But all I could find.....

...was a fully clothed Michael Fahey. Very disappointing.

It was like Mayan ruins.

Alas, the haze wrecked the views.

Many of the gun platforms and bunkers are in excellent shape.

...and easily accessible.

..and eerie.

Jeff poses.

Jeff took us down a road, looking for a way across the valley.

Plenty of goodies stacked by the road.

....where I found this amazing bee.

A closeup....with a bonus bug on the left that I didn't see until I blew the pic up. The eyes of the bee are wonderful.

We bumped into a duck farm on the floor of the valley.

"Is there a way out of the valley up the other side?" "No." And so we walked back up the hill, the ducks learning some useful, if socially reprehensible, English phrases from me.

At the next set of military structures, we found some art students.

Michael shares a laugh.

One of the artists snapped me.

An excellent state of preservation makes for mystery.

On the way back Jeff explained how paper was made from the pith plant he is standing next to. The tree bark was literally unwound, and then dried. Because of its depth, the paper absorbed the ink, giving paintings a 3-D texture.

We returned to the university, finding other families on the path.

Lunch was obtained at one of the seafood places along the nearby roads.

After lunch it was out to the port of Shen Ao....

...where Jeff explained about the local geology....

...and we got off on the shrooms.

In a sudden fierce burst of understanding, Michael attained enlightenment while contemplating Keelung Mountain near Jiufen.

Crates of blue....

A slow day at the restaurant.

After lunch we walked up to the gun platforms on the ridge overlooking the city, but the haze just refused to burn off....


MJ Klein said...

It practically cries out for a nude model. But all I could find.....

...was a fully clothed Michael Fahey. Very disappointing.

a nude Michael Fahey probably would have been even more disappointing!

great reporting Michael.

cfimages said...

What a great looking place. Great photos - I'm going to have to go there sometime soon.

Ryan said...

Still trying to digest your previous posts about the elections. I'm sort of on the fence about it, flipping from "Change is good" to "Oh Shit" and back again.

But this article begged for comment because I've been trying and failing to write a good story about Taiwan's military installations for over a year. Do you know much about their history? I would kill for a story about them.

Also, will you be submitting photos for the photo issue?


Todd said...

The macro shot of the bee is awesome! Great hiking pics Michael!

STOP Ma said...

Ahh...the old mountain walking paths of Keelung. During my vacation last month I had a chance to take a whole slew of shots on these paths -- and I was lucky enough to have a sky that wasn't as hazy!

On that day's excursion, my father-in-law told me about how James Soong halted a plan to double the size of Keelung harbour by flooding a large portion of the valley. Taipei ended up getting the upgrade to it's port due to the fact that Soong couldn't get enough kickbacks from Keelung.


Mad Hatter said...

Lovely pictures. I really should've explored more of Taiwan when I lived there.

STOP Ma said...

A note on the referendum process that I had to comment on, Michael...

In today's Taipei Times it was written that international observers concluded that -- guess what?! The referendum process had many faults (imagine my surprise!).

Based on her [Cyd Ho (何秀蘭) of the Initiative and Referendum Institute-Asia] observations, voter secrecy was also partly compromised because everyone could see who picked up the ballots and who did not, she said.

Voters should all have picked up both referendum and presidential ballots and voted for or against the referendum, she said.

Another participant, Zandro Rapadas, from the National Movement for Free Elections in the Philippines, however, said the act of not picking up a referendum could also be construed as the expression of an opinion.


Anonymous said...

Thank you from Atlanta, I always enjoy the photos.

Huw said...

Some nice pictures there, despite the haze. I love the north coast area and used to spend a lot of time there when I was at university in Taipei in the mid eighties. Chingtiengang is another great place to get away to - very atmospheric.

Good work, Michael!

Anonymous said...

Is it called Da-wu-ling?? It's always great to hang out with someone who knows something, like Jeff. Of course our lovely thin fun Michael can't be absent as well. Can I join the hiking group next time? :)