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Saturday, February 25, 2012

225: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Waiting for it...

With this Tuesday being a national holiday, 228 Peace Memorial Day 228和平紀念日 (see 228 Incident 二二八事件), a number of businesses have chosen to take Monday off as well in order to create a four-day weekend for their employees. There are four reasons why you shouldn't be too envious of this fact: 1.) I still have to teach for three hours on Monday evening; 2.) next Saturday is going to be a make-up day in return for having this Monday off, meaning I'll have to work in the morning and afternoon that day (and Amber will have to attend her kindergarten); 3.) my wife will still have to work on the 27th and 28th as her boss apparently thinks it to be a waste of time and money honoring thousands of innocent dead people; and 4.) we can't afford to go anywhere over the long weekend, by virtue of having to make do this month on a tight budget courtesy of January's two-week trip back to the United States.

So how does one have a fiscally-responsible yet still enjoyable four-day (or 3½ in my case) stretch of holidays? I'll let you know on Tuesday. As for today (Saturday), I had hoped to take my daughter to a nearby stretch of the Tányǎshén Bicycle Trail 潭雅神綠園道 in Shén​gāng 神岡 in order to give her another opportunity to get better riding at riding a bicycle. We had the bike in the trunk of the car and were nearing the parking lot for the cycling path when it started to rain, putting paid to that plan. Still, it seemed a shame to have the car and not be able to do anything, so I made a quick detour to a spot where the Taiwan High-Speed Rail 台灣高速鐵路 tracks descend to ground-level before disappearing into a tunnel. After a few minutes' wait, Amber got to experience two trains pass by her in a matter of seconds. First, a train heading north:

Followed a few minutes later by another one going in the opposite direction:

With the weather still on the dicey side, but not wanting to go home just yet, we next drove to the Taichung Airport 台中航空站. From past experience, I knew there wasn't an observation deck, but I figured Amber might like to check out the inside of the terminal. Apparently, meteorological conditions this afternoon in the Taiwan Strait 台灣海峽 were less than ideal for flying, as the various boards showed at least one canceled flight to Hong Kong, and four or five delayed flights to Makung (Mǎ​gōng) 馬公 on Péng​hú 澎湖, Kinmen (Jīn​mén) 金門 and Hong Kong. So it came as no surprise to find the terminal packed with angry and/or bored passengers waiting around for something to happen:

Amber also took a couple of pictures, which can be seen on her photo blog, as well as below:

Amber expresses relief that she isn't going anywhere by plane today!

On the way back home, we stopped off at the Tányǎshén Bicycle Trail so that I could make use of the restrooms, then decided to stretch our legs a bit before getting back in the car. The cycling path is laid out where the tracks of an old sugar railway used to lie. Amber checked out the ersatz water stop, which reminded her of Thomas the Tank Engine:

After a lesson on the principles of steam engines, it was time to go. Thus ended the first day of the long weekend. Now to figure out what to do with the rest of the free time...

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