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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dragon Buddhas

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival 端午節, a national holiday that I missed the last couple of years going off on trips to Japan. This time I was home, but sans family. Pamela and Amber were in Hsiluo 西螺 from Monday night until this afternoon in order to attend the wedding of one of my wife's nieces. The last time they had left me alone in order to visit the ol' ふるさと, I attempted a long-distance walk in Changhua County 彰化縣, with the goal of reaching the big Buddha statue there. Unfortunately, due to a wrong turn, I never made it (see here), but today I set things right. For one thing, I got off to an early start, waking up at 5:40 this morning to have breakfast and take a shower, then ride the 40 kilometers (25 miles) or so to Sun Moon Farm and the start of the trail, arriving shortly before 9:00 am. Setting my bearings straight this time, I reached the Buddha statue in about 80 minutes, with the last half of the way passing through a large cemetery. After spending about an hour at the site, including eating some snacks and reading the newspaper, I returned the way I'd come, albeit this time with a couple of wrong (but thankfully minor) turns! It took about 110 minutes to make it back to the farm and my parked scooter. According to the web site where I'd originally learned about this route, I'd covered 16 kilometers (9.9 miles). All I can say is "やった!"

See, I was really there! Honest! The skyline of Changhua 彰化 may not be worth a million dollars, but the view isn't bad from the top of 97-meter (318 feet) high Pakuashan 八卦山, especially with clear skies following the recent rains we've had. At several points along the walking trail, the high-rises of T'aichung 台中 could be clearly seen in the distance.

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