Tuesday, October 30, 2007
In the foothills of Kōri 后里の前山にいる
Usually on Monday afternoons, I like to go for a stroll in the hills above Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Park 中正公園 in Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原. For a change today, however, I ventured in a different direction, to the nearby town of Houli 后里 and a place called Fenghuangshan (Fonghuangshan) Farm 鳳凰山農場. Although the farm is located on a small road well off the busy route between Fengyuan and Sani (Sanyi) 三義, past the military base, bicycle trail and horse ranch, the way is clearly signposted and easy to follow:
On the weekends, the farm is busy with visitors, but on this Monday afternoon, I was the only one there. The trail is an easy walk for the most part, with only a short, steep staircase leading to the top of a small hill that is crowned with the kind of pavilion you see everywhere in Taiwan. The views from the top were clearer than usual today.
Following a brief self-photo op, and a short skirmish with three dogs over possession of the strategic hilltop pavilion (a brandished metal stool and a well-placed shot with a mandarin orange みかん successfully repelled the attack), I walked over to another pavilion lower down and attempted a panorama shot of the view:
I had the option of continuing down the path from the second pavilion, but from previous visits to this area, I knew it would just take me past some orchards and houses on the way back to the parking lot. So I returned whence the way I came (this time the dogs barked at me, but wouldn't show their cowardly faces), and instead took a short series of steps that led to a pleasant Taoist temple called Chaok'un (Jhaokun) 朝崑宮. From the temple, a small road led to another entrance to the Fenghuangshan Farm parking lot. In step with the ongoing leisure boom in Taiwan, this farm has converted itself into a tourist facility. Though it was closed on this Monday, I was surprised to find four cars in the parking lot when I returned to my scooter.
My favorite part of the day was the ride back into Fengyuan. Instead of returning on busy Sanfeng 三豊 Road, I took a longer, but much more scenic back road that led in the direction of Tungshih (Dongshih) 東勢. The traffic on this route is always light, and the road winds it way through the hills past small homes, plus a couple of temples. At one point, there's a great view looking towards the Shihkang (Shihgang) 石岡 Dam, with the central mountains looming in the background. At the bottom of the hill, I crossed over the Tachia (Dajia) River 大甲川 and was back in Fengyuan again.
I observed this scene from the roof of my apartment building after getting back from my ride. Despite a sign indicating no cars, and the obvious narrow width of the road, this was the fourth time in two years I've seen someone in a car or truck get themselves stuck. Usually a forklift from one of the small factories nearby will be brought in to extricate the vehicle. When I used the same road to go to work a couple of hours later, the truck was gone.