Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 11 walk

Day 11: Toucheng to Donggang. Sunday March 10th. 7 hours.

This was another hike with my good friend Jerry. We drove from Taipei to Toucheng in the morning, going through the Shuehshan Tunnel, a big long one through Taipei County and Ilan. We parked near the Toucheng train station and took a cab to Wushe Port. It was a lovely sunny day. There were lots of fisherman and boat workers about, doing things with nets. We walked around the port area for a while, and then hit the beach, the one big huge beach in Ilan that stretches for about 30km. It’s a gray beach, completely undeveloped for tourism throughout most of it’s length, although there are some breakwaters, as well as pipes leading seawater into the many aquaculture establishments near the coast. The first bit of the walk was rocky, and then the true beach resumed. After checking out a little park by the sea, that Safani and I had actually found years ago, we walked along to the mouth of a largish river. Alas! When we got to the river mouth we found that there was no connection to the road corridor, as the land between the beach area and the road corridor was swampy and filled with canals! We had to backtrack about 4km. Shit! Oh well, Ilan’s coastline is quite flat in that area, allowing bizarre shapes for river flow. We trudged onwards and found our way to the other side. We then got back to the seaside, and found an interesting and convenient feature: A narrow paved lane, with signs saying bicycles only, but used by many locals as a scooter track. The origin of this track was probably military, as the beach would doubtless make a good invasion spot. Along this we walked, me struggling to keep up with Jerry frantic pace. In the four years I’ve known him, Jerry has morphed into a total exercise freak. We made good time. However, it did become a bit monotonous, as did the beach itself when we followed it. There were a few points of interest: fishermen, short breakwaters pointing out to sea made of rock, probably designed as sand traps; and one brave lonely surfer. There was also a military artillery range, not being used on that day. As we neared the mouth of the Donggang river, we came across a kind of “tent city” where the local fishers would store stuff or get out of the weather for a bit. These areas were usually a bit garbeachy.

It had been a reasonable hike and, having reached our logical finishing point, we made out way to the road. However, unfortunately there were no 7-11s, bus stops, restaurants, gas stations or anything similar to be seen; nor was there any indication of how to get to the train station. There were just farmhouses and farms. After futilely wandering about various on roads for a while, we decided to follow the river along its anti-flooding embankment, which had a trail on top. Our strategy was to follow this straight route up past Highway 5 up to Highway 9, which ran next to the train route. There we would easily find a train station. This idea worked but took some time: it was maybe another 8km of walking to go to Ergie. Along the way, we enjoyed a fine view of Sangie, famous for it’s green onions, as well as its weird hut-shaped hay-drying piles. The flood zone next to the river was a rich green patchwork of farm plots growing different crops, and here and there, farmers tending them. It was a pleasant and healthy feeling. However, one bizarre thing that happened was when we came across some doghouses on the embankment, to which were chained three huge and highly aggressive Rotweilers. There were going crazy trying to get off their chains, and were extremely intimidating. They look like they would gladly have torn us to pieces. I have no idea what they were doing out there! After much trudging we came to Ergie. Beer and taxi were quickly obtained, and, were soon back in Toucheng. We drove back to Taipei in Jerry’s car, getting in around 7.30pm.

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