Day 17:Around the Henben / Aohua area. Friday July 27th, 5 hours
Henben is really close to Aohua. They are both in the same "ao", the middle of which is the border between Ilan and Hualien counties. It also had a fairly big stream running through it, which gave me some trouble. The stream was quite shallow in most places and quite spread out, into many small branches. But there always seemed to be one main channel that was just a bit intimidating, especially if you didn’t want to get cell-phone etc wet. I diddled along the beach for a while, until I got to the river area that would certainly be flooded during high water. Then, I laboriously explored it, looking for a reasonable way across. I wandered around in that riverbed for hours, getting hotter and hotter, until I came to some narrows where the stream came out of the mountains. It was steep and rocky, and the water below was fast and deep. There was no easy way across. I walked back towards the ocean, and came across an abandoned railway bridge that, judging from the trail and little ladder leading up to it, was the locals’ solution to the problem I had encountered. The rails had been ripped off so there was no threat of a train coming along. It took me across to the other side, and into Hualien County. I followed a barrier wall around the outside of a huge power plant and cement making plant that dominated the town like a castle in a small village. As I came around the corner on the other side of the river mouth, the beach resumed. There was an odd outflow from the plant, from which the water came out vertically from a massive pipe. It didn’t spurt up into the air very far, but it did gush up rather impressively. I followed that beach for a while but it soon dead-ended at a huge wall of wave protectors (massive concrete jacks) that were at the mouth of the harbor that this factory had to itself. I had to make my way back to the railway bridge that I had crossed on, and followed the route even further until it connected to the main rail lines, which penetrated the whole factory. I followed the tracks through the complex, many times sighting cops and security guards driving past on small roads only a chain link fence away. Strangely, they all seemed unaware of me. I went past the railway station, figuring that I’d get busted if I approached the platform from the tracks. Well past the station, I dashed across the rails to get to the road, then headed out of town for a while before realizing it was time to make my way back to Taipei. I went quickly back to the station, just in time to get the fast train back to Taipei. The only trouble was, unlike most train stations in Taiwan, this very modern one didn’t have a dinky little store attached where I could grab some Taiwan beer, so I had to make the trip back totally dry. That train trip really seemed long without a few beers to chill me out.