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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Getting hot 'n' humid in Shihkang (Sekikō) 石岡

As the subject heading above says, it was pretty hot and humid today. That didn't stop me from hitting the trails, though I did choose an easy route this afternoon. Following lunch, I rode out on Fengshih Road 豊勢路 to the Shihchung Temple 石忠宮 in the town of Shihgang:


The walking trail begins to the side of the temple. It's an easy stroll up wooden steps, not much of a challenge even in the humidity, but pleasant nonetheless. It doesn't take long to pass by the various fruit orchards before reaching the top, though there are a couple of spots along the way to stop and admire the view:


Taiwan and I don't always see eye to eye on many matters, but one thing we do share in common is an interest in things Japanese, as these carp streamers こいのぼり can attest:


The trail eventually comes to one of Shihkang's tourist "attractions", the "Divine Tree of Five Blessings". On weekends, this poor tree is literally overrun with unsupervised children crawling all over it, but today it was alone and therefore unmolested. Here's an old photo of the tree I took on a previous walk along the same trail:


From the tree, the path starts to work its way downhill, eventually reaching a rushing stream, where I watched, enviously, while some local kids had fun in the water:


A short walk along the waterway leads to another of Shihkang's artificial "sights", the Lover's Bridge. Having no cultural or historical significance whatsoever, it was built a few years ago to give people a reason to stop on the road running between Fengyuan (Hōgen/Toyohara) 豊原 and Tungshih (Tōsei) 東勢. Later, an overpass was constructed over Fengshih Road, linking the bridge to the Tungfeng biking route. This means on weekends the entire area is a veritable cacophony, the result of karaoke カラオケ machines, mini-race cars, food stands, souvenir stalls etc., in competition for the leisure time New Taiwan dollar ニュー台湾ドル. This afternoon, however, all was quiet on the tourism front:


Ah, Taiwan - from Monday to Friday, it's the respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll, but on Saturdays and Sundays the country's sightseeing spots are transformed into the sinister Mr. Hyde.

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