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Monday, June 6, 2011

Feeling woodsy in Shatei

No pithy intros, no insightful commentaries on the state of local politics, just some holiday snaps (and a short video clip) of our overnight stay in the village of Ch'ēch'éng 車埕, the final stop on the Chíchí Branch Rail Line 集集線鐵道 located in the mountains of Nánt'óu County 南投縣:

We arrived in Ch'ēch'éng in the late afternoon on Saturday, and Amber immediately got to work blowing bubbles. In the background can be seen the Ch'ē Ch'éng Chateau, where we spent the night. A small but clean en-suite room cost us NT1200 ($42/¥3370).

Amber and I pose on the platform of Ch'ēch'éng Station 車埕車站. The Chíchí Line is closed at present between Lúngch'uán 龍泉車站 and Ch'ēch'éng Stations for maintenance, which is why we drove there. The village is surrounded by steep mountain ridges, some of which you can see in this picture.

The original Ch'ēch'éng Station was destroyed in the 921 earthquake of September 21, 1999 921大地震, but has been rebuilt to look the way it did when the Japanese first opened it in 1922.

Ch'ēch'éng got its start as a logging center during the Japanese period 台灣日治時期, and remained quite prosperous up through the 1970's. Today it's tourism that drives the local economy. After dinner, we took a stroll around the Lumber Pond, where logs were originally soaked before being shipped off on the railway. The restored timber buildings looked very attractive in the night lights, and Amber enjoyed listening to the sounds of croaking frogs in the darkness.

We then took a walk through the older part of the village, where Amber was more than pleased to buy a pineapple Popsicle from a kindly おばさん.

The next morning, I went out onto the ledge of the Ch'ē Ch'éng Chateau and filmed the view. It can't be seen clearly in bright sunshine, but the village sits in front of a dam, which I found a little unnerving in light of recent disasters. One thing that didn't bother me was the peace and quiet at 8:00 this morning, before the tourist hordes showed up.

After breakfast, we took another walk around the Lumber Pond, where Amber first posed with her mother outside, and then did her best seiza 正座 pose ( in the Ch'ēch'éng visitor center. And, yes, her shirt does say "Sorry I'm Late".

My daughter had a lot of fun at the Experience Factory 體驗工廠, a DIY shop where she got to make her own wooden basket (with some help from the staff, of course). She really enjoyed stamping the wood and hammering the nails. A future carpenter, perhaps?

Ch'ēch'éng's lumbering history is presented in the Ch'ēch'éng Wood Museum 車埕木業展示館, located inside a large cypress shed. My guidebook mentioned a NT40 ($1.40/¥110) admission fee, but it didn't cost us anything to go inside today.

The final stop on our tour of Ch'ēch'éng this afternoon was the Ch'ēch'éng Winery 車埕酒莊, located in the same building as the Ch'ē Ch'éng Chateau 民宿, where we had spent the night. The 69% alcohol sample of plum wine I tried packed quite a punch for its small size, but we did pick up a less-potent bottle for ourselves, as well as a couple of others for お土産 purposes.

Because Ch'ēch'éng didn't have enough people walking around its streets, my wife suggested we use the free shuttle bus to pay a visit to Sun Moon Lake 日月潭, and so 45 minutes later we found ourselves among the crowds at T'áiwān's 台灣 most overrated tourist destination. The picture below shows just a few of the many sightseeing boats that were plying their trade around the lake. The photo also illustrates how I've yet to experience a day free from haze whenever I've been there. It doesn't look crowded in this shot, but believe me, the people were there, including many Chinese tour groups. I can't understand the attraction Sun Moon Lake holds for visitors from China - surely in a country that huge, there must be larger, more beautiful bodies of water than this one.

The obligatory Japanese pic. Sun Moon Lake is ちょうおもしろい, "very interesting", is it not?

You can buy many things at post offices in T'áiwān, including "Anti-tuberculosis Stamps" (third from the bottom).

Amber was so happy to be buying some Hand Made Assam Black Tea Egg Rolls that she didn't notice that eggu エッグ had been rendered as etsugu エツグ.

Pamela and Amber strike a pose in front of the lake. That's Lalu Island between the trees in the background.

Back on the free shuttle bus, we passed by this store in Shuǐlǐ 水里, which for some reason had three statues of Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正 standing out front.

Back in Ch'ēch'éng (where our car was still parked), it was time to have dinner before the drive home. The bus driver had neglected to tell us that by using the free shuttle, we could receive free complimentary wooden train whistles from the ranger's office in Ch'ēch'éng. The restaurant's proprietress, on the other hand, was more than happy than to clue us in. Here's Amber proudly showing off her new possession before tucking in to dinner.

The final picture before getting in the car and heading home.

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