Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day 9 walk

Day 9. Mon, Feb 5th. Aodi to Shihcheng. 6 hrs.This was the first of my days walking while on the pre-fasting diet of strictly fruit and vegetables. I noticed very little difference in performance, although I seemed to feel like I had less energy. I think low and steady output activities like flat walking are not really affected by this diet. I set off from Aodi on a very sunny day. The beginning bit, getting out of town, was a bit weird, as there was no apparent clear route. So, I putzed around for a bit, then got back to the road. Now I could see where all those trucks had been going: I was walking right by the construction site of Taiwan’s 4th nuclear power station. At this point, it was just a grid of girders framed by huge angled cranes. Across from it was a traditional style building, which seemed to be the access point to a beach park. I paid my 60NT, and went through. Inside there was an interesting monument; a cenotaph dedicated to those brave few who fought against the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in 1895. Actually, Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonosheki after the 1894-1895 war, but many of the locals weren’t too happy about that. Below the monument was a lovely beach. It was golden sand, with a few little streams and rocky bits to give contrast. It was really a beautiful day, with a slight breeze and almost cloudless sky. I made my way happily down the beach to the adjacent, Fulong, beach. Between Yanliao and Fulong beach was a seldom-used part (except for fishermen) that was a bit garbeachy. At Fulong, there was nice view of the mountain across the bay, and a prominent ocean-side temple. I crossed the bridge over a small but deep river, and walked along the shore to the temple, splashing through a small stream on the way. The temple was beautiful, and filled with dragon sculptures. Along the coast further: I checked out the bus stops, and was slightly dismayed. Up to then, starting from Tanshui, there were always frequent intercity buses with well-marked stops very 500m or so. When I was done for the day, all I had to do was stop. Since Keelung, I had been using the Fulong to Keelung bus route, as the only other posted one, from Luodong to Taipei, seemed to be very infrequent, despite the promising-looking schedule on the sign. Now, after Fulong, there was no apparent regular middle-distance replacement bus. The danger was that I could get stranded on the road with no safe way home. Around this peninsula, the main east coast rail line met the coast, so if I could only make it to the first station, I’d be OK. Hmmm. I decided to go for it. I knew the peninsula walk would be a bit long, so I started to make time. I hoofed it along, enjoying the now-familiar view of mountain and ocean. To my right was Lingjou Mountain, to the left the sea. There were a few coves. One was in a place called Fulian, which was a small, traditional fishing village. It was clean and cheerful, and had preserved some old buildings well, near a wide easy walkway near the seawall. Next, I passed by the ***** rocks, which was overlooked by a big “God’s golf ball” radar array and the San Diego (?!) lighthouse, which was perched so high up on the surrounding hills that it could only be seen, and at that, partially, from a few angles. This is the most easterly spot on the island of Taiwan. The ocean rocks were OK, and as I passed through the fishing village I noticed what looked like an artist’s home and studio, with whimsical works of sculpture outside. Around the bend in the darkening evening: then, my first view on this trip of Turtle Island, which is much larger than Keelung Island. It is also further away from the mainland. In the sun-shadow of the eastward mountains, around 5pm, I passed the Lailai rocks, which compose, according to the sign, the largest wave-cut platform in Taiwan. Then, as it got darker and darker, I walked past sleepy, poor-looking villages with people having cookouts on the beach, and noisy dogs barking at me. Then, full darkness. Trucks zooming buy, with dusty gusts of wind behind. Headlights! The occasional scooter passed by, or nervous dog trotting along the shoulder, surprised at my presence. Then, a sign in the dark: Toucheng Township. I had made it to Ilan county. A few klicks down the road was Shicheng, a one-horse fishing village with a tiny train station. I waited at a promising looking bus stop, but a local woman on a scooter told me the train was better. An hour later, I was on the local. It stopped at every stop on the way to Taipei. An excellent way to increase one’s geographical knowledge!

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