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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Colder Trails

"Oh well. It felt good to be out in the sun again, and I definitely plan on returning to this area one weekday morning after the holidays to explore those 4.7 kilometers in greater detail."

And that day turned out to be less than 48 hours later, as I left home this morning at 8am in 9C (48F) weather to ride my scooter the 20 minutes or so to the Shihchung Kung (Shihjhong Gong) temple 石忠宮 in Shihkang (Shihgang) 石岡. As this was the first day back to work for most people following the Lunar New Year 旧正月 break (myself included, but not until the afternoon), I had the trails pretty much to myself, though the temple itself was surprisingly busy in the early morning. Even if the meteorological conditions were not as nice as on Sunday, the relatively clean air meant the views were just as good. I followed the walking trail up again to the "The divine tree of 'five blessings'" 五福臨門神木, only this time, instead of turning back round, I headed down another path that led to yet another what's-the-big-deal "tourist site". The formula is simple: build a wooden bridge that looks vaguely nostalgic, give it a romantic-sounding name like "Ch'ingjen Much'iao (Cingren Muciao)" ("Lover's Bridge" in English), add some rustic elements like a water wheel, throw in vendors, KTV's カラオケ and games for kids, then sit back and watch the punters pour in on the weekends. Voila! Instant sightseeing spot! No surprise, however, that hardly anybody was there on a chilly weekday morning.

And that, my friends, is what really matters on these morning sojourns.

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