Angkor Wat |  Cities |  Laos |  Kinmen |  Myanmar |  Penghu |  People |  China Portraits

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Lanyu - Day 2

We were up by 6:45 on Sunday, and went to have breakfast at the 早店 or breakfast store down the street. They had excellent danbing, black coffee (an unexpected treat), and mantou (steamed buns) to take with us on our hike. We then headed off to find Tianchi. When we arrived at the trail head, there was a large group just starting off. Everyone in the group was between forty and sixty, and they live in Tainan where they teach at (I think) a police college. I found this out when we joined their group about twenty-five minutes into the hike.

The hike started out being pretty moderate, as the trail was wide and some steps had even been built leading up the bottom part of the hill (though a good number of the steps were gone). However, once we entered the forest, the trail became narrow and quite slippery thanks to the drizzle and the rain of the previous days. This made for treacherous footing, and more than once I almost fell. We made good time, though, and soon passed the group from Tainan. After descending a particularly tricky passage, though, we were faced with a wall, the base of a huge rock I think. It seemed as if we were standing in a dried out, rocky river bed, and it led both left and right. Shaun remembered reading something about this, and thought we needed to go left. We called up to the group above us to see if they knew and they suggested left as well. So we went, soon being forced to swing our bodies in and around ill-positioned fallen trees, and then coming to a point where we could go no further. The group from Tainan had by then descended and they were calling to us to go back, as they had given us the wrong directions. From that point on we stayed with them.

The rest of the hike alternated between steep uphill descents (one of which required the use of ropes that had been installed in the hillside) and pleasant gentle uphill rises that brought us into openings that offered great views again of the ocean and of the thick vegetation we had just ascended through. Then we were walking through more forest, and then we came to the lake, about forty-five minutes after we started. The lake itself was not much to look at – more of a small pond, really, filled with muddy brown water. What was fascinating though, were the surroundings. The lake was in the middle of a large clearing that was mostly devoid of life. There were trees fallen near the lake, and a group of dead trees standing maybe fifteen feet away. The ground was reddish-brown dirt with just the sparsest of green grass trying to sprout through the surface. It almost seemed as if an object had landed there with an amount of force large enough to create the clearance, and the pond itself was water collected in the hole left by the object. What made the sight of this barren area more striking still, were the green hillsides that surrounded us in every direction. In fact, it was something like standing in bowl where the sides are a deep green color, the bottom brown with just a little bit of water left, waiting to be finished.

While at the lake, I chatted with the group from Tainan and they informed me that they were planning on taking the 2:00 boat as it was first stopping at Green Island. When they said that, I made up my mind to do the same thing. They invited us to lunch with them as well, but I told them we still wanted to see the northern part of the island, so I suspected we would not have enough time to eat a sit down lunch. We hiked back with them, and said our good-byes, and they promised to call me to remind me about the boat. We then set off north. Unfortunately, less than five minutes after we started, our scooter conked out. We thus had to walk for about twenty minutes back towards Hong Tou until a car came by that we could catch a ride with. That was one thing I found on both Lanyu and Green Island – there was traffic to be sure, but it seemed to come in groups – whether they be large tourist groups, or groups of islanders on their way to fish or dive. On both islands though, I could walk for a long time without seeing a scooter or a car.

We got back to the minsu and got a new bike. Then we headed off north again. We stopped at the airport so Shaun could change his ticket to a 4:45 departure. The northern part of the island was much like the southern part of the island in that the scenery was at every moment phenomenal. Again we saw crystal blue water, huge black, volcanic rock, and steep green hills. We passed some of the people we had gone out to dinner with who were snorkeling with the man who had given us a room. Then we passed a few small villages, one of which had these long tunnel-like houses built to keep their boats in. Inside one of them we saw a man hunched over his boat doing some sort of work. From his dark hideaway he looked out at us once and then went back to work. It seemed as well in this village that there was some sort of celebration going on, but I have no idea for what. Later, as we drove, we passed an old couple vegetables and wood back to their house, the woman decked out in a traditional red Ami-style dress, the man with no shirt and little more than a loin cloth around his waist. I felt, as we passed them, that I was an incredibly distance away from Taiwan, and that this place, only a twenty minute flight away from Taidong bore no relation at all to the place where I live. Before we went back to HongTou, we stopped in the village of TungChing where we ate CongCe (or TsongTse), which is a type of sticky rice filled with pork, mushrooms, or red beans and wrapped inside a banana leaf and that is a common snack around the time of Dragon Boat Festival here in Taiwan (which, I should mention, is where I met Natalia last year). We ate down by the water, looking out at the Battleship Rocks, and a coral and rock beach dotted with scattered canoes. As we ate, a boy rolled down a hill on a makeshift wheeled sled while other boys played a Chinese board game while sitting on a raised platform that would have looked at home in Cambodia or Laos. Needless to say, I found myself feeling very happy. We went back to HongTou then and I just had time to wash some mud off my legs from the morning hike, and to brush my teeth. The people from Tainan called me to suggest I go to the harbor, and I told them I was on my way. Shaun drove me to the harbor, I bought my ticket, and I was on my way to Green Island.


Post a Comment

<< Home