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Monday, October 19, 2009

Can I at least get an A for Effort?

This Sunday found me on the losing end of a power struggle with my mother-in-law over who would get to be with Amber. Off my daughter went with my wife and her grandmother to visit my mother-in-law's brother (would that be Amber's great uncle?) in Hsiluo 西螺, so I decided to utilize the unexpected free hours to do some walking. I had found a website detailing a country walk just outside of T'aichung 台中, so I rode off on my scooter this morning to Changhua 彰化. It took more than an hour to get there, but I found Sun Moon Farm, the start of the trail, without any trouble. The plan was to walk for a couple of hours (or eight kilometers/five miles) to reach Pakuashan 八卦山 and its famous-in-Taiwan big Buddha statue, and then return for a four-hour, 16-kilometer (10-mile) round trip. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go as planned. Though the website claimed the route was well-marked, there were actually only a few brown-colored signs indicating the way to go. At one junction, I noticed there was a painted picture of a bicycle (the road is also a bike path) with an arrow pointing to the right, so that was the way I went. This turned out to be a mistake, as the way came down out of the hills and into the suburbs of Changhua, whereupon all indications of the bicycle route disappeared, with Pakuashan being nowhere in sight. It didn't take long to realize that I had gone off track, so I reversed course and made the long walk back uphill to the junction. Continuing straight this time, I soon caught site of Pakuashan, and the backside of the 大仏, far off in the distance. However, it was getting late in the afternoon, and facing a long ride through Taichung before getting back to Fengyuan 豐原, I reluctantly turned around and walked back to my parked scooter. Despite not reaching the goal, I still was able to get in 3.5 hours of steady walking in good weather through some nice scenery, with the solitude only occasionally disturbed by a passing car, pickup or scooter (there were also a few dogs to deal with, but it's amazing what effect carrying a large stick had on them!). Pakuashan's Buddha isn't going anywhere, so I'll try this again some other weekend, hopefully with better bearings!

This red bridge had to be crossed going into and out of Changhua County 彰化縣:

The road passed by several old houses. The one in the photo on the left has been converted into a tea house. If only more traditional homes could look like this! Most, however, are more like the ones in the picture on the right:

A couple of self-portraits taken along the way:

Parts of the route were well-shaded, while other sections were more exposed:

I should have known I had ventured off-course when this was the sight that greeted me as I came down from the hills!:

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