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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hsintien (Sintian 新田)

This morning I got out of the apartment and went for a walk in Hsintien. Hsintien is located in Fengyuen (Fongyuan とよはら 豊原), close to the border with Tantzu (Tanzih たんし), and has several hiking trails. I like to go for walks in the mountains in the late mornings and early afternoons because there are fewer people on the trails during that time, and I'm better able to listen to birds, cicadas and other insects. It's also a lot hotter and a lot more humid then, but that's a small price to pay for some relative solitude.

Today wasn't a particulary healthy day to be tromping up and down hills, and gulping down large amounts of oxygen. As you can see from this picture

 

the air quality was none too good. You might say it was smoggy today, but I have a very good friend who's an eternal optimist and thus never uses that word. To him, the weather is "hazy". 

Look at the photo again - somewhere there is a city in all that smo...er, I mean haze. So with not much to look at in the distance, I spent much of the time pointing the camera at things much closer.

 
A small caterpillar pretending to be a stick. 

 
These huge spiders are everywhere. They're as large as my hand, but I wasn't about to put my palm next to one to give you the proper perspective. Just take my word for it.

Pomelos.

 
A grasshopper that didn't mind having its picture taken. 

 
A lizard that I almost stepped on. I jumped away thinking it was a snake.

 
Lots of critters today seemed to want to have their photographs taken. This moth, for example.


 
A large caterpillar that I moved to the side of the footpath so that it might avoid detection by the three kids somewhere behind me and following fast.

 
The entrance to the Hsintien parking area. From a distance, the statue of the hawk looks more like a vulture, waiting for something unfortunate to befall the hiker. 

 
According to Pamela, dogs with white paws are not popular with Taiwanese because it's believed they bring bad luck. A few months ago there was a story on the TV news about an American couple that came all the way to Taiwan to adopt a dog like this one because there weren't any Taiwanese willing to give it a home. 

A small Taoist temple by the roadside. The two gods inside looked like they were in jail. Attica! Attica! Attica! 

 
If I'm going to stay in Taiwan for a while, I'd like to invest in a traditional Taiwanese home. This place looked like it might be available. With a little elbow grease, an air conditioner or two, digital TV connection, who knows? My wife, however, would prefer to live in something more modern. "Modern apartment building" in Taiwan, unfortunately, also means "Ugly concrete monstrosity".

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