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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dam it!

There is a bicycle trail that runs through Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, connecting the city with Houli 后里 at one end, and with Tungshih (Dongshih) 東勢 at the other. For a long time I've wanted to check it out, but I've been waiting until Amber was old enough to go with us. Now that she's 18 months old, I figured the time was right, and as Sunday was relatively cool in the late afternoon, I thought there was no better time to go, so we set off after 4 in search of a place that rents bikes. Finding such an establishment was no problem, as in true Taiwanese fashion it seems there is little regulatory control over such businesses (or at least permits are generously granted). Getting the right bicycle, on the other hand, was a big problem. It turned out that the three-wheelers we were hoping to rent (the kind where dad sits in front and does all the work, while mom and baby get to relax in the backseat and enjoy the ride) are not allowed out on the trails on weekends, due to the higher density of bike traffic. It's a rule that actually makes sense, but as the only alternative was a tandem bike with a child's seat in between, we decided to wait until Amber gets much bigger before going out on the trails with her.

So with nothing else to do on a late Sunday afternoon, we drove over to the neighboring township of Shihkang (Shihgang) 石岡. The only thing Shihkang is noted for is a small dam, which was badly damaged in the Sept. 21, 1999 Chichi (Jiji) Earthquake 集集大地震. At the time it looked like this. It has since been repaired, of course, and today looks like this:


The area around the dam has been converted into a park, and it's possible to walk across the structure to the other side, which we did. On the way, I took a picture of this bird, which was looking for fish.

At the end of the dam, on the opposite side from where we parked, a section of the damaged span has been preserved. I'm glad this has been done, as these things shouldn't be forgotten. I was also happy that Amber was enjoying herself, which after all is the only thing that matters on these weekend outings.

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