Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day 3 images

More Day 3 images

Not much surf today mate

Chinsan Old Street

Day 3 walk

Day 3: Dec 10. Fuji to Chinsan: 6 hrs
This was my first day walking with companions, who were in this case Jerry (Taiwanese) and Noel, (Australian). We started at Fuji fish port for a seafood lunch, went to the lighthouse, where there is a plaque saying that it’s the most northerly point in Taiwan. Then, past the point the lighthouse was on, there was a new bay with a big beach, undeveloped. As always, making progress along the sand was bit of a trudge. Then, we came across a water hazard – a small river flowing into the sea with a deep channel in it. After checking it out for a while, I tried it. I just barely managed to make it across, but the others declined. Noel is shorter than me, so it would have meant a crotch soaking for him. Jerry didn’t want to do it as he was wearing long pants! So, they went around, and I met them at the main road 20 minutes later. Back at the main road, we endured zooming cars, with occasional relief along beach trails. There were some picturesque areas of rocky coast, including one area that had a rock arch on the shore, and some rocky islets in the water with footbridges connecting them. A bit farther on, we passed a county wedding with some drunken teenagers staggering about. Then, we were on a long boring stretch of highway approaching Chinsan. There were lots of little cafes and restos along the way, obviously for Taipei tourists out on a scenic drive. A few hours of highway trudging later and we finally approached the beach. Just before the beach, though, we came across a madness of fishing boats converged on one area, although to a landlubber it wasn’t clear what they were after. Chinsan beach itself is quite a famous one for surfers and beach parties, and the water near the shore was dotted with guys in wetsuits, either surfing or waiting for the next good wave. There was a hill near the shore past the beach, and a great view of Yangmingshan’s north side, with a large valley running inland between steep hills for quite a distance, which looked grand in the orange sunlight at the end of the day. Beyond, in the distance down the coast, we could see rock formations and the jutting peninsula at Yeliou. We took a small road behind the beach, which connected to a bicycle path that led through some old farmland. The sun went down, and in the growing dark our route was beautifully peaceful, especially after the noisy road. This farm area was well irrigated, and water swooshed and blooped by in small channels. We got into the town proper, and found our way to the Old Street. It was the usual lively night market, but with one difference: people were walking down the street holding steaming plates of food! It was something that would have been totally normal at a banquet or restaurant, but this was neither. Of different ages and styles of dress, the people didn’t seem to waiters. There were only about four or five different kinds of dish, steaming hot and heaped like a restaurant platter. What was the deal? Soon we found out. They had a weird system there, where you buy one kind of dish at a stall that only does that dish, and then you have to find a seat in one of many restaurants! Tired and hungry, we did so ourselves, and enjoyed the excellent duck, which is rightly famous! Then, we took the bus home. Another good day!

Day 2 images

More Day 2 images

Day 2 walk

Day 2: Nov. 26: Sanzhih to Fuji fishport: 4hrs

As usual for this entire Danshui to Keelung route, I took the MRT to Danshui and got a bus along the main road. I found my last ending point no problem. I started walking at around 2pm this time, still a tad later than I had hoped, though it was a fine day. Along the highway I plodded, occasionally bursting into a slow jog, coming into the a little town after less than an hour. The waterfront of the town was surprisingly nice, touristy but tasteful. The beach, Cienshuiwan, was nice but unfortunately, swimming was prohibited. [I believe it is allowed now.] Soon I made a pleasant discovery: a proper bicycle path! The path led down past a working aquaculture area: a couple of ponds separated from the sea by concrete walls, a few corrugated aluminum buildings from which machine noises emerged, and some purposeful but vaguely mysterious human activity. Past the blue truck and some snarling dogs [chained, but at other times I’ve passed by there and they weren’t] was a nice boardwalk path by a rocky beach. A few guys were fishing in the ocean. The path wasn’t too long though, and soon it wound back through a small group of farm and residential buildings. Coming out of that, I was suddenly on a beautiful little country road, running past fields and old farmhouses. The road was crossed occasionally by others like it, but luckily my route onwards was marked by a big white stripe denoting the bike path. This bike route guided me throughout the day, occasionally turning down side streets that seemed like dead-ends but were actually the optimal onward route. For hours I wandered through lovely countryside, until I came once more to the seaside. There was a sandy beach, but the ocean there was full of flat slabs of rock, sometimes with sharp edges, and the water was shallow and full of seaweed. This is the area right next to the Baishawan Sailing Cooperative (PSC) and the property where the Canada D’eh party is usually held. Along this little stretch of coastline there was another excellent boardwalk trail leading to a small fish port. On the other side of this was the western end of the trail that led around Linsanbi Cape to Baishawan beach. It’s a cute little trail, with some interesting rock formations. Soon I was at Baishawan, which is a fine-looking kilometer long arc of white sand, just as the sun was starting to approach the horizon. I crossed the beach, admiring the big waves, and watching groups of teenagers fooling around and having fun. I could see a point of land past the beach, with a radar station on it, and a lighthouse at the tip. After the beach, there was a bit of a stretch where I had to walk along the road. I took an overpass and ended up at Fuji fish port, which was near the lighthouse. I grabbed a beer and found the path to the lighthouse, which is past all the seafood restaurants. I got there just in time to enjoy my beer in the sunset, watching small fishing boats setting out along the coast. Ahhh!

[As with Day 1, I missed some of the coast, but I did make up for it. See Related rambles]

Day 1 images

Day 1 walk

Day 1: Nov 19 /06: Tanshui to Sanzhih; 3.25 hrsDun-ta-dun-ta-daaa! Charge! My crazy (but not too crazy) quest had begun. A few weeks later than expected, at the crack of 3 PM on a lovely autumn day, on Tanshui Fisherman’s Wharf, I started walking. It was weird but good. Onwards to the horizon and all that! I was very excited, but soon settled down to the simple business of, well, walking! It didn’t take me long to get out of the wharf and beach area. I took the roadway east. It took only 45 minutes to clear town, and on the eastern edge I found a weird grid of large roads, most of then closed off, dicing up a large, flattish area. Obviously, the huge vacant squares will sprout high-rise apartment blocks at some point in the future. Past this, I found an offshoot part of Highway 2, a small, winding country road. It was a pleasant place to walk. After meandering about for an hour, the road led me back to the highway. Traffic was fairly heavy, and the shoulder of the road was a bit narrow. If I had needed to light a safety match off the side of a passing car I probably could have. Facing into the traffic, I plodded along towards San Zhih in the fading light. Soon it was dark, and the traffic became more irritating, with scooters buzzing by a few centimeters from my shoulder, and oncoming headlights dazzling me. At six I called it quits, the first day of my island trek. On the bus back to the MRT, hanging on with grim determination, as the driver veered and bounced along the road, I felt great.

Only later - much later - did I realize that I had missed the coast by kilometers! But not to worry, I made up for it later. See: Related rambles.