Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 26: Friday, July 4th, Shitiping Fish Port to Changbin Township, Taidong County

The Tropic of Cancer Marker in Hualien County: Looks like a chess pawn


Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep!” went my cell-phone alarm. It was almost four, and I wanted to get up in time for the sunrise, which was to be my first on the East Coast. Crapped, washed, dressed, packed = sorted! Out I went. It was only 4.30. The predawn glow was yellow, orange and purple, and it silhouetted two marching lines of cumulus clouds at the horizon. I ate my breakfast at one viewpoint, and then moved closer to the sea for the real show. It was a slow buildup, delayed but enhanced by the clouds. The main glow filled half the sky, slowly building up. One either side of the main glow was redness, which made the flanking clouds into a delicate frame for the main event. Ground zero was behind the marching lines of cumulus. The sun’s furnace first turned the edges of those clouds into burning filigree of incandescent tangerine. Around them, the colour was a cherry copper. (The birds finally got the message and started their melodic ruckus.) The transcendent brilliance of the sun finally burst above the horizon and through the low clouds like a glowing orange knife. After only a few seconds, it was too bright to look at. But soon, it went behind the second column of clouds. A few minutes later, it reemerged, a second sunrise. It bathed the eastward looking hills in a warm reddish glow for a few minutes. Then, it was full day.

The sun dazzled and the sky shone a newborn blue. The green had been refreshed, and tufts of mist clung here and there to mountain peaks or deep patches of forest. Everything was perfect. I walked on, checking out the beauty of it all with a feeling of deep satisfaction. Later I cane to Da Gang Kou, a sleepy village. You know you’re up early when you see farmers on the way to work! There were lots of old men out cutting stuff down, and old ladies all covered up with clothes, hats and gloves. They smoked as they walked. Later I came to the Changhong Bridge, a big red metal bridge over the Shiouguluan River.

This river penetrated all the way from the Rift Valley, and in the distance, through the river valley, I could see the Central Range catching the morning light. The river was beautiful, as it came to the sea at Jinpu. There was a small island at the river mouth, and interesting play between the current and river waves. I walked through Jinpu to the beach, and then along until it got too rocky again and I cut back to the road. I followed it until I came to the odd looking Tropic of Cancer marker. Then onwards still until I got to Changbin Township in Taidong County. There I stopped, so I caught a bus back.

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