On a pleasant Saturday afternoon, what better way to help a sick little girl get over a spring cold than by having her get out in the fresh air? OK, this is central Taiwan, where "fresh" isn't the first adjective that immediately springs to mind when thinking about the atmosphere, but the weather wasn't too bad today - warm, but not hot, and skies that were actually blue. So, after lunch, we drove to the nearby
town district of Hòulǐ 后里, one end of the 4.5 kilometer (2.8 miles)-long Houfong (Hòufēng) Bicycle Trail 后豐自行車綠廊. Amber came prepared with her Hello Kitty ハローキティ bike (still with training wheels attached) and Toys "R" Us helmet, but before hitting the trail, we crossed the road from the parking lot to check out some horses.
Ask many Taiwanese the first word that comes to mind when they think of Hòulǐ, and the answer will probably be "saxophones". But around these here parts, the
town district is also known for its military stables 后里馬場. This afternoon, a number of horses were being put through their paces around an equestrian course, leaping over various vaults:
When Amber was very small, she was bitten on the finger by a horse during a music festival in Hòulǐ, and for the longest time afterward, she was terrified of the animals. Fortunately, she's since gotten over that fear:
Returning to her own four-wheeled steed, Amber set off on the bicycle trail, with Dad lagging behind on foot. Eventually, we came to the No. 9 Tunnel 九號隧道, which was built by the Japanese, and used by trains operating on the now defunct Old Mountain Line. Amber didn't cycle the entire 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles), but she did venture inside for the first time:
Back outside, and posing for a photo...along with three young people doing what many Taiwanese youth seem to enjoy doing - taking a picture of themselves leaping into the air, which will no doubt later be posted to their Facebook pages:
Stopping for a sausage break on the ride back to the parking lot. Wherever people assemble in Taiwan, food, drink and souvenir vendors will also congregate:
Watching Amber on her bike this afternoon, I realized it's probably time to remove the training wheels, and let her attempt to master the art of cycling on two wheels. She's keen on the idea, but said she would like to practice in our apartment building courtyard first before going out on the bike paths again. Fair enough.