Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 6 walk

Day 6: Tue, Jan 30th. Keelung to Shenao. 5.5 hrs.

I started off alone at Keelung at about noon. It was a fine sunny day, not too cold or hot. I walked along the eastern side of the harbor, and after passing by naval ships, came again to container terminals. These gave way to fishing villages, and lesser harbors; often full of older ships being repaired, or at least badly in need of it! Then, I went over a small bridge to Heping Island. This is a smallish island on the edge of town, just before the National Taiwan Maritime University. About one third of the island is residential, another third is a big shipbuilding facility, and the last third is a big recreational park. Just over the bridge to the right as you go to the island there is an area of seafood restaurants. Beyond that, there is a small Taiwan Aboriginal village, which is quite poor and squalid looking.

I wandered through the main residential area on the left, which is a normal, bustling blue-collar neighborhood, passed the shipbuilding facility, until I got to the park, which turned out to be very nice. There was a great view of the mouth of Keelung harbour, and the seacoast north of Keelung; I could also see Keelung Island, with its high white cliffs and green scrub, standing out in contrast to the blue sea. The rock park had many unusual rock formations: smooth, tan-colored, twisted shapes, with knobs and blisters of other kinds of rocks poking though. There were bizarre and silly shapes, like shit from a Dr. Seuss world, or fossilized aliens. There were also some narrow channels right by the sea, where waves would rush in at great speed, creating powerful surges that would penetrate narrow crevices under your feet, making strange noises. After being mesmerized in this zone for a while, I followed the trail by the sea, past green algae-coated rocks, until I’d come around to the south side of the island. I was returning to the area near the bridge. I went past the seafood restaurants, skirting the channel separating Heping Island from the mainland, then went back across the bridge. Then, I wandered about in an area of apartment blocks, trying to find the best way onward. Suddenly, I heard a boy ask me “Hello! How are you?” I looked around but couldn’t see anybody. Finally, I spotted two grinning and giggling boys on a high rooftop above me!

By process of elimination, I found that seaside progress was not a good option, so I found a road past the Formosan Aboriginal Hall. There were some paintings on a wall outside, an outside dance or assembly area, and an inside stage. Then, the road came to a tunnel, which curved into the hill. But, on the other side of the tunnel was…a twisting maze of small alleys that had so many clothes hanging out to dry and household items in them that I almost felt like I was walking through someone’s house! The alleys eventually led to a small street, which led directly to the main highway, which was again close to the sea.

The first thing along this road was the Taiwan National Maritime University, a nicely located campus. After this was Bisha fish port. This is a big port, and definitely a tourist place. Inside there is a wonderful abundance and variety of fresh seafood, all at high prices. Tthe other side of the main building has seafood restaurants. There’s a sense of money-grubbing in the air, but probably the vendors have to pay high rent) to get a space. I settled for some small steamed squid and a big bottle of Taiwan Gold Medal beer. Ahhh!

Then, I kept going, away from the touristy part and into the local part. I went through the village, and went along the far side of the harbour, to the end where there was a path up onto a nice big hill. The lookout point up halfway up the hill offered a great view in all directions. To the south, there were some cliffs: one path went up along the top of them, while another went down to the shore. I followed this one down, and along some rocky beaches to a storm-proofed seawall, with massive concrete jacks lying at its base. Around the corner was a wonderful view of Keelung Mountain and Jiufen. In fact, I had arrived at the home of a friend, although she was out, where we’d all had a great barbecue a few months back. The name of the place is “Badouzu”. I kept going down the road, as the day slowly faded, and a few kilometers down, came to a big thermal power station in a small town called Shenao. And there I stopped.

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