In Taichung: A second walk in the parks - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

January 1, 2019

In Taichung: A second walk in the parks

Today, New Year’s Day, we’re taking another day off the bikes to scratch another thin line into this huge city.  First though we have to leave our opulent suite at the Tango and bike across town to Hotel 53 over on the east side.  Still a nice business hotel, but much more moderate than the Tango.

We check out of the Tango, bike a mile slowly along a fairly quiet street, missing every third stoplight and waiting for another interminably long red countdown as scooters come to rest all around us. 

(An aside: most lights here have countdowns, both on the red and the green, to let you know how long you have left.  The wait and go times are so odd, and often long - they might start at 53 seconds, or 88, or 27, or 96.  You’d really rather not miss some lights because they’re so long, but the phalanx of impatient scooters waiting for their turn in the cross direction scares you off of pushing your window and getting caught in no man’s land.)

Suddenly, it’s not a quiet street any more, but a two block long market totally jammed with the usual multimodal, slow moving, writhing market mix.  We keep biking, but at a very slow crawl.  finally, we come to open pavement again and pick up speed.

The phone rings.  I stop to answer it, which annoys Rachael; but it occurrs to me that it could be our hotel, so we should probably check it out.  It is our hotel, as it happens.  They want to know if we left a black coat behind.  We puzzle over it, neither of us having a black coat.  Maybe it’s a language thing, and they mean shirt?  Rachael has a black shirt, so maybe that’s it.  She looks, finds her black shirt, and then thanks the hotel and says it’s not ours.

We bike on.  A block later, I ask Rachael if she saw her black sweater when she was looking through her panniers.  Oh, the sweater.  We call the hotel back, and tell them it’s ours after all, and are coming back.  We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes, after we make it back through the stoplights.  And the market.

As long as we had to go back here to claim Rachael’s forgotten sweater, I thought I should take a photo of the place while we’re here.
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As we leave the Tango for the really last time I suggest she mount her GoPro, thinking we might tape our third cruise through the market.  Nope, she’s not getting the camera out.  And she’s not going through the market again!  We pick a different street this time, not as quiet but faster moving, and head toward Hotel 53.

As we wait for another interminably long red, with even more scooters massing around us because we’re on a busier street now, she startles me by saying “I really hate it here” - meaning she really hates biking in this specific city.  That feels a bit too strong to me, but then she has a harder time with crowds and stress than I do (for her, it’s this issue; for me it’s the food).  It’s definitely not for everyone though.  Just so you know.

We finally do reach Hotel 53, leave off our bikes and luggage, and after first stopping at a nearby Starbucks for a light meal (because by now it’s lunch time), we spend the afternoon walking through this part of town.  In the city, if you want to see anything interesting, walking is really the right speed.  And there are myriad interesting things to see.

The new walking path along the Lyu-Chuan Canal. Until a few years ago the canal was badly polluted but has recently been cleaned up and transformed into a beautiful public space. The path was just opened last February.
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An immature black crowned night heron, just a few blocks from our hotel. I’m really surprised at how tame night herons seem to be.
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Happy in a hippo haven, Taichung Cultural Park
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A difficult play
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Rootbound
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Some rusty axles
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Liuchuan Riverside Walk
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Snazzy wheels
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Sisters
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Origami lotus blossom, Liuchuan Riverside Walk
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Critiquing the results
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In Taichung Park. Created in 1903 by the Japanese, this is the oldest park in Taichung.
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Turtles and lotus blossoms, Taichung Park. I especially love having such a tiny one in the mix. It’s like the three bears.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like these may be common thread turtles.

https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/712640
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5 months ago
In Taichung Park
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We enjoyed an extended visit with this man as he filled us in on the ancient trees here, the weather in Taiwan, and a bit of his life story.
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According to our new friend, this tree is older than this 115 year old park. I believe it.
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Parrot on a low riser
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Confidants
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We finally make it back to Hotel 53 a bit before sundown, check into our rooms, and start getting cleaned up for dinner.  Rachael refers me to links for a couple of nearby restaurants she researched earlier, looking for places near this hotel.  The Italian one sounds really good to me, so I look at the map.  It’s like 3 miles away, not really close to our hotel at all.  I look at the other one, and it’s the same - three miles away, very close to the first one.  Then I see on the map that they’re both very close to Hotel 52, not Hotel 53.  I’d been wondering why she kept talking about Hotel 52, thinking she’d just misremembered its name.

So, after a bit more research, we find a place that sounds promising: Little Italy.  It’s not really that close either, more like a mile and a half, but a reasonable distance.  So we walk over, slowly, missing every third light and waiting for an interminable red while other pedestrians mass up around us and scooters fill the street.

(Another aside.  I really haven’t done justice to describing what it’s like to walk through cities over here.  It’s interesting, and it’s another new skill to learn.  You really have to walk opportunistically, walking on ‘sidewalks’ when you can find them, or out in the street walking between the parked cars and scooters and the oncoming traffic when you can’t.  There are two things about this.  First, I put ‘sidewalks’ in quotes because they aren’t really like our sidewalks.  I’m not sure of the model here, but it looks like the sidewalk belongs to the building.  On a normal block with half a dozen or more buildings, each one has its own little bit of sidewalk, with its own building material.  When you come to a transition, it may or may not be plane with the next section.  Most of the time it is not, and there is a rise or drop of an inch or a foot or more to the next one, sometimes with a slope, sometimes with a step or two, sometimes just a straight drop or lift.  In time, you learn the rhythm and to walk with one eye on the ground, so you don’t topple or stumble.

Secondly, there’s the human activity.  The sidewalk is not just (or even primarily) for walking.  It’s also a spot for commerce, or for parking your rig.  The walk is often so full of parked scooters or cars that you have to weave out into the street and its traffic to get around them.  And, the walk is often part of the business - there is a food booth, or tables at an eating establishment, or tables of wares; and, of course, there are their customers sitting or standing around.  They often completely fill the walk, so you have to weave out into the street and traffic to get around them.

As I said, it’s interesting, it’s very different from home, and it’s part of why we’re here - to get a flavor of a very different way of life than we experience at home.)

So we finally get to Little Italy.  It’s a nice place by the university, a bit gimmicky - the wait staff say Bon Jorno when you enter - but the food is good, and they don’t put peas or other odd veggies in the pasta.  We’ll be back tomorrow night, I imagine.

The floating pavillions, Taichung Park
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Along Lyu-Chuan Canal
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Along Lyu-Chuan Canal
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Today's ride: 4 miles (6 km)
Total: 389 miles (626 km)

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