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Monday, January 14, 2008

Walking the cycling trail in Nisui 二水のサイクリングコースを散歩していた

As it turned out, the Kuomintang's (Guomindang) 中国国民党 victory in yesterday's legislative elections was even bigger than expected - the KMT came away with 81 of the 113 seats. Could this herald the first step in the march toward the creation of a Taiwan Special Administrative Region 台湾特別行政区? God, let's hope not.

I'm not a believer in omens, but it somehow seemed appropriate that the warm, sunny weather we had been having up until yesterday, became overcast, with rain at times, from this morning. Nevertheless, the Kaminoge family pressed ahead with our plan to visit the small town of Erhshui (Ershuei) 二水, in the southeastern corner of Changhua (Jhanghua) County 彰化県. Both "The Rough Guide to Taiwan" and "Lonely Planet Taiwan" recommend Erhshui as a destination due to its cycling course, and its position as the starting point for the scenic Chichi (Jiji) Line 集集線 branch railway. Our original plan was to have taken a train from Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原 to Erhshui, and then rent some kind of tandem bike to use on the bicycle trail. In the end, however, logistical problems (namely, finding a parking spot in downtown Fengyuan for the day, and carrying a stroller on and off a train) led us to drive to Erhshui, and then walk a portion of the bikeway, rather than rent something that could be dangerous for Amber to ride on.

We began by parking our car near Erhshui Station. Following lunch in town, we walked to the start of the sightseeing bicycle route, passing a small train museum along the way.

The route is very easy to follow, and is well-signposted in English. However, it wasn't quite as beautiful as I had imagined it to be, judging by what I had read in both Taiwan guidebooks. The scenery did start to improve, though, the further on we walked. The trail parallels the train tracks for virtually its entire length, and trains were constantly going by at close range. Unfortunately, both my camera and my fingers were too slow to get any really good shots.

Pamela isn't much into walking or rainy weather, so she soon decided to retreat back to the car, leaving me to push Amber along in her stroller. Our daughter, on the other hand, really seemed to enjoy all the scenery.

And the scenery did pick up as we moved along. There were fields of cosmos コスモス and rapeseed アブラナ, and a number of well-preserved traditional houses. Still, I think the views are probably better appreciated from the seat of a moving bicycle than from a slow-moving gait.

The natural scenery was also nice. Amber was especially interested in some of the local insect life.

In the end, Amber and I walked/strolled for about 2 hours, going past the next stop on the Chichi Line, Yuanch'uan (Yuancyuan) 源泉 Station, and almost to the end of the route. It was getting late, however, and rather than walk all the way back to Erhshui, I called Pamela and asked her to pick us up at Yuanchuan. From there, we drove back home to Fengyuan.

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