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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vanishing Trails

I ventured out to Houli 后里 today for my weekly commune with nature. It'd been a while since I'd been out there, and in the interval, trail maintenance had seemingly ceased. In one place in particular, the spreading brush made the uphill route almost impassable, forcing me to take a long detour around the side of the mountain in order to reach the top. Several other sections have gotten narrower due to the advance of Nature, and the blown-down tree branches from Typhoon Morakot 颱風莫拉克 have only made things worse. It's a pity because, even though it's the least challenging of all the trails I regularly go on, the Houli route does have some great views along the way, especially on clear days (today, unfortunately, wasn't one of them). There's no telling what state the area will be in the next time I decide to stop by.

In place of photographs, I made several videos this afternoon, starting with the one below. It's a ride on the way to Sanfeng Road, which connects Fengyuan 豐原 with Houli, and eventually, Sani 三義. This stretch is what many Taiwanese would call the "countryside". I'm not sure how I would describe it, but the few Tom Sawyer-like rural idylls have to share space with numerous small factories. If you were seeking the "Real Taiwan", this area would be a good place to start:

You may (or may not) have noticed the steadier camera work. While I'm still filming things idiotically with one hand while riding, I'm now holding the camera higher up on my body. This makes for images that are easier on the eyes, but it does also make for an even more dangerous ride.

The next video was filmed at a Taoist temple near the start of the Houli trail, called Ch'aok'un kung 朝崑宮. I like this temple, not only for its hilltop location overlooking the Central Taiwan Science Park 中部科學工業園區 currently under construction on the plain below, but also for its restraint, a far cry from the usual gaudiness (or tackiness, in some cases) one usually finds at Taoist houses of worship (though the teddy bear/puppy benches were a bit much, if you ask me):

There might be a loud noise in parts of the video. I don't know what is was, because the interior was quiet while I was filming, and the only sounds I heard were those of insects in the trees outside.

The final clip is another scooter video. Like the one above, it's also of a typical Taiwanese industrial/agricultural area. The afternoon glare is pretty strong in parts, and I wouldn't have uploaded this one, except I like the fact I caught an express train going by near the end:

In case you're wondering, that's a kart racing track that can be seen around the two-minute mark.

Ilha Formosa - the Beautiful Island!

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