Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 23: Saturday, May 31st, Shuilien to Jici Beach Resort.

The life-affirming green of a rice field, in Shuilien

I took the down the coast to get to where I had left off last time. The other passengers on the bus were fairly simple folk: elderly women on their way back from the big markets in Hualien with plastic bags of produce or bog wipe; families; older guys drinking beer. There was a lot of aboriginal influence in the features, like dark skin, and a strong-boned facial structure. The bus was, like many in poorer areas, no longer in deluxe condition. But soon enough we arrived in Shuilien.

Today would be my first day with a full pack, including tent, sleeping bag, air mattress etc. As well, I would need to carry all my food and water. (As it would turn out, these precautions were unnecessary, as there were many guesthouses and small stores along the way.) Shuilien was a nice little town, built on a few hills 100 meters or so above beach level. The ocean wasn’t visible from the main streets. The town definitely had a sleepy feeling to it, and quite friendly as well. I walked down to the beach, a fine gray sand one, bounded by rocky headlands in the distance. Then, I went back to the road. I felt a bit crappy that day, and there was a bit of rain. But let’s not dwell on the negative! This was my road-kill day, and I started off by seeing a nasty looking live millipede and an even nastier looking dead centipede crossing the road. Later, I saw dead snakes, frogs, and bats, all spattered and dried. Jolly good fun.

The gorge at Fanshuliao

Soon I was on the road leading out of town, as the coastline was impassable for a while. Most of the day was spent climbing up and down over the hills, which although tiring, offered beautiful vistas of more green hills. One recreational area on the coast presented a challenge to me. It was a beach and farm type deal, accessed by a side road that went down a good 800m of altitude over about 3 km. Getting down there and back would have been a small hike in itself. I just couldn’t be bothered, as it would have sucked up at least 2 hours, and to see what? Just one beach – which I could see from the road anyway. I decided to give it a miss, but couldn’t shake the feeling that I had wimped out! I’ll have to go and do it one day, before I officially finish. A bit further on, there was a fantastic gorge at Fanshuliao.

It was really "gorge"-eous!

Hazy day view from Baci Lookout

On and on, and then I came to a lovely spot, the Baci lookout. The view from here was really wonderful. There was a long curving beach, capped by a lovely big rocky lump of hill at the end, which was to be tonight’s destination. I trudged down the road, which eventually rejoined the coast proper. I got onto the beach, but had the usual problem of running into a stream that was difficult to cross. I followed the road again, and came to the Jici Beach resort, right at the end. It was a nice place, lively but not too tacky. They had camping, a restaurant, swimming, and beach activities like Jet Ski and canoeing. Unfortunately, they had a big group in the camping area, so I didn’t want to stay there. The guy at the ticket window was a nice guy and he drove me (drunk as he was) up to a little guest house about 200 meters up the road. I changed and went back to the beach for a swim, shower and dinner. Then back to my huge room for a good sleep.

The unpretentious Jici Beach Resort

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