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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Walking the T'anyashen (Tanyashen) Bikeway (Part 1) 潭雅神サイクリングコース

The Tanyashen Bikeway is a bicycle trail that runs through the towns of T'antzu (Tanzih) 潭子, Shenkang (Shengang) 神岡 and Taya (Daya) 大雅, hence the name of the cycling course. A few years ago, my wife and I rented a couple of bikes and rode the length of the trail. Today, however, I decided to walk as much of the path as possible with the limited free time I had this morning.

Like the Houfeng (Houfong) 后豊 Bikeway, the Tanyashen course is laid along what were once the tracks of a Japanese-era railway. My starting point was just off of Ch'ungte (Chongde) 崇徳 Road, between the old stations of Tantzu and Shek'ou (Shekou) 社口. I began by taking the shorter route to Tantzu, which started off by passing by a handful of cafe-restaurants before turning into a pleasant tree-lined path.

At the end of the trail in Tantzu, it appears a tunnel is being constructed, suggesting that the bikeway is going to be expanded in the near future.

I then turned around and headed back in the direction of Shekou. Signs along the way indicate the distances between the old stations. As is commonplace in Taiwan, the route goes by numerous small factories, one of which was exposing itself to the outside world.

One great improvement that has been made to the trail since Pamela and I rode on it several years ago is the overpasses that cross over a couple of busy streets, such as this one spanning Chungte Road. It has made things much safer.

The scenery on the Shenkang and Taya sides of the trail is similar, though there are fewer trees along the bikeway to provide shade.

Like many industrialized nations, Taiwan has a labor problem. Namely, most people don't want to work at low-paying, strenuous factory jobs, so workers are brought in from Southeast Asia to do the work that Taiwanese shun. I passed by a couple of Thais (presumably) riding bikes on their way to a factory. I also saw several Filipinas (or perhaps Indonesians) taking breaks by the side of the bikeway. Many of these women work as caregivers in Taiwan. Some examples of Thai script, written on the outside of a factory wall and on the signboard of a building, underscored the presence of these foreign workers.

Compare the small, but charming, traditional house on the left, with the typical modern-day apartment building on the right. Most Taiwanese would probably choose the concrete block as a place to live. The old homes are fast disappearing. Someday, perhaps, the Taiwanese will wake up and realize what they have lost, but it will probably be too late, with only a few museum pieces remaining.

With just over a kilometer to go before the old Shenkang station, and within site of the high-speed rail tracks, my time was up, and I turn back and head for home. With a small, colorful Taoist temple 道観 to serve as a landmark, I intend on coming back this way soon to finish the route on foot.

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