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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear... 懐かしい駅

Today was a beauty, weather-wise, with clear blue skies and warm, pleasant temperatures. The three of used this nicest of days to take a step back into Taiwan's past by visiting an old train station dating back to the Japanese period. T'aian (Taian) Station 泰安駅 on the old Mountain Route 山線 of the Western Railway Line 西部幹線 dates back to 1910, and was in service until 1998, when a new double-tracked Mountain Route was opened, along with a newer T'aian Station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai-an_Station. Today, the old station sits along a quiet country lane, in front of a large hill and facing old homes and rice fields.

The original wooden station building was destroyed in the 1935 Hsinchu-T'aichung earthqauke 新竹・台中地震 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1935_Hsinchu-Taichung_earthquake, and was rebuilt in sturdier but less attractive concrete. There is a monument erected by the Japanese which lists the damage caused to bridges, roadbeds, stations and tunnels by the quake:

Amber enjoyed blowing bubbles, throwing rocks and walking around on the platform and tracks. I did as well, with the only disappointment lying with a signposted hiking trail 登山歩道, which looked promising as it headed up the forested hill behind the station. However, it soon disappeared into the underbrush as it became obvious that trail maintenance was not a high priority:

After checking out the old station (which didn't take long), we drove about five minutes to the modern T'aian Station, built on an elevated platform about five stories (I forgot to count the flights of stairs as we walked up) above the surrounding countryside. There, Amber and I waited for the train to take us back to Fengyuan (Toyohara) 豊原, while my wife drove on ahead to meet us there. What the new station lacks in architectural charm, it makes up for in great views. Nine minutes, two stops and 15NT (45¢/¥40) later, we were back in Fengyuan at the end of a lazy Sunday afternoon, just the way the Small Faces スモール・フェイセス would've wanted it:

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