Hurry up and see 'em before they're all gone, folks - the cities and towns of T'aichung (Taichū) County 台中県. In December, the city and county of T'aichung will merge to create a single direct-controlled municipality 直轄市 called Greater T'aichung 大台中 (you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct-controlled_municipality#Taiwan). What this means is that I will no longer be living in a town called Shenkang (Shinkō/Kamioka) 神岡, but rather in a district of T'aichung bearing the same name. As long as mail still reaches me, I'll be fine with the change.
With some free time this afternoon, I paid a visit to one of those towns, Ch'ingshui (Seisui/Kiyomizu) 清水, population 86,000. The town's name means "clear water", and apparently was so designated in 1920 after a natural spring burst out of the ground. Ch'ingshui is about a half-hour or so by scooter from my apartment, and on the way there, I paid a visit to T'aichung Airport 台中空港. Unlike most airports I have driven to, which are reached only after long drives from freeway off-ramps, the terminal for RMQ is located right on Route 10. Although the Wikipedia article says the passenger facilities were constructed in 2003, the terminal building looks pretty modern...if it had been built in, say, 1969. Since the construction of Taiwan's high-speed train system 台湾高速鉄道, domestic flight services have been reduced, and the only such flights out of T'aichung Airport are to the offshore islands of P'enghu (Hōko) 澎湖, Chinmen (Kimmon) 金門 and Matsu (Baso) 馬祖. RMQ is an international airport, however, with regularly-scheduled services to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. The small terminal was busy this afternoon, though I was disappointed at not being able to find any sort of observation deck (I did get to see a few fighters land at the adjacent Ch'ing Ch'uan Kang Air Base, though, while riding along the perimeter of the base):
Ch'ingshui sits roughly at sea level, at the foot of Aofeng Mountain 鰲峰山, which means that on clear days, the views looking out over the town, and toward the East China Sea 東シナ海, are pretty good. Here are a few samples:
In the photo on the left, you can make out a row of massive wind turbines in the distance. In the picture on the right, the circular structure in the middle is a revolving restaurant, which sits atop a public hospital!:
The views going in and out of Ch'ingshui are the best things about the town. In all other respects, it's a pretty ordinary Taiwanese urban township. There are some mildly interesting "sights", such as this pair of temples sitting on opposite sides of the street (and including the gate spanning the road leading to them):
Ch'ingshui Station 清水駅 dates from 1935:
I took a walk along Chungshan Road 中山路 in the heart of Ch'ingshui's "downtown" area. It was a pretty ordinary stretch of road, with many of the same chain and franchise stores you see in other cities and towns. Compared to Fengyuan's (Hōgen/Toyohara) 豊原 smaller, but livelier, central business district, Ch'ingshui seemed fairly dull...er, quiet. At least the town isn't opposed to wisdom: