In Taichung: a walk in the park - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

December 30, 2018

In Taichung: a walk in the park

Today we’re enjoying a day off the bikes by taking a walking tour of Taichung.  We’ll be in Taichung for five nights - three here at the Tango Hotel (which we booked at the last minute when we bailed on the wet east coast), and then two more at the hotel we had originally booked here.  The weather looks like it will be fine for all four days, so we’re going to mix up our activities by taking two day rides and two walking tours.

Let’s not take a walk quite yet though.  First, let’s return to last night and look at the scene biking into the inner city:

If you haven’t been to or thought that much about Taiwan, you may not be aware of Taichung.  We didn’t really know much about it either - our knowledge of Taiwan cities began and ended with Taipei when we first considered coming here.  Taichung is a huge, populous, significant city though, and although largely industrial it is well worth a longer visit.  With a population of nearly three million (about the same as Chicago), it is Taiwan’s second largest metropolis.  Originally developed as a planned city by the Japanese when they occupied the island, it was at one time briefly the capitol.  Some of Taiwan’s major contemporary cultural institutions - the natural science and fine arts museums, the national symphony - are here, plus of course countless temples of all sizes.  

So.  A huge place with a lot to see.  In two walking days we’ll just be scratching the surface.  Think of spending two days on a walking tour of Chicago, and you’ll get the idea of what a shallow scratch we’ll leave behind.

I’m not going to put up a blow by blow narrative of our walk, but in summary it was a slow eight mile saunter from our hotel in West Taichung over to and along the length of the great Green Belt: an unbroken two mile ribbon of parks and public green spaces that extends from the science museum on the north end to the fine arts museum on the south.  It’s a wonderful walk, through a series of six or so individual parks and spaces each with a much different character.  From the majestic heritage trees in the botanical garden we pass through densely crowded markets, a large open green space filled with picnickers, children and dogs; sculpture gardens; and the calligraphy walk.

It’s a beautiful day, and a national holiday weekend - so it’s no surprise that the park is crammed with people out enjoying their parks.  We were quite surprised later in the evening when we engaged in an extended conversation with the owner of Pizza Rocks! to have him tell us that the city is very quiet now because everyone leaves it for the holiday to go out to the countryside.

In Gongyi Park, a small neighborhood park in West Taichung.
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A Malayan night heron. This was a startling creature to see in Gongyi Park, standing in the middle of the lawn hunting for worms. Totally unconcerned by the people walking on the paths just twenty feet away.
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I don’t know which small shrine this is that we passed on our way to the green belt. We were ushered in by a friendly attendant who did his best to explain what we were seeing, which god this is (this is the ceremonial mask that is trotted out for a walk through the neighborhood on ceremonial occasions), tell us why people are incinerating wads or cash, and so on.
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At the same shrine, which is surrounded by heritage trees. The whole space feels like a small oasis in the heart of the city. I love the reverence that is shown for some of these ancient trees. Respect your elders!
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Jen GrumbyBeautiful. I love imagining all that trees such as this one have witnessed. Certainly a wise being worthy of great respect!
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2 months ago
Burning through the bills as an offering to the god.
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A flock of these tiny twitterers flitted through the fig trees around the shrine. Unusual to have one of the smaller birds draw close enough for a decent shot.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be an Oriental white eye.
razyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=26j&doctype=journal
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonOh, sure Bill. You’re just guessing, I think. Just because we’re in the Orient and it has a white eye, you think you’ve got it nailed.
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2 months ago
In the botanical garden, adjacent to the natural science museum. One astonishing tree after another. We could have spent much longer here, but realized we were both getting faint from hunger and needed a break. Is this a baobab?
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Andrea BrownOur hypothesis: Brachychiton rupestris 'Queensland Bottle Tree' . Mister Shaneyfelt?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonHow great - another interesting tree I’ve never heard of. It didn’t quite look like a baobab to me, but similar. I wonder where its common name comes from.
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2 months ago
Keith KleinTo Scott AndersonUmmm, euh, Queensland? ;^)
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith KleinOh, of course. How silly of me, I thought it might be because of its bottle shape.
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2 months ago
Jen GrumbyThe only thing that's missing from this photo is the Grumby bottle opener!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyOh, of course. I should have shimmied up and placed it on one of the lower branches. I could of course, but it would be so embarrassing to get arrested when I can’t speak the local language.
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2 months ago
Looking up at the baobab(?) shown above. The tree was roped off for protection, so I’m leaning over the rope as far as I can for a look up it’s remarkable trunk.
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Another stunner, presumably a fig of some kind. Its trunk hosts a whole complex ecosystem.
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An orchid(?) growing from the trunk of the tree above.
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Bill ShaneyfeltOrchid for sure. Possibly a moth orchid.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalaenopsis
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2 months ago
In the green blocks south of the natural science museum.
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A clown (one of several that drew large crowds along this length of the park). He has pulled a young boy from the crowd as his accomplice, and given him a red hat to try to catch balls he tosses out at random while he’s juggling. Great fun watching the boy’s intense concentration, rewarded by bursts of applause when he succeeds in snaring one.
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The deluxe Landis Taichung towers above the green belt. We thought our 17th floor suite in the Tango was pretty classy, but if we ever come back to Taichung we should book one of the penthouse suites here.
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In the sculpture garden
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In the sculpture garden
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Boy on a dinosaur
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In the sculpture garden
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Another view of the Landis Taichung
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In the Calligraphy Greenway, outside the fine arts museum
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Green Splendid, a new sculpture in stainless steel and plants, is meant to symbolize the richness and energy of the collections in the modern art museum next door.
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Back near our hotel, we were startled to see this captive bird at a pet shop. It looks like the same species we saw wild earlier in the day.
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Jen GrumbyGreat urban riding video!

Not sure I could handle that pressure. ;0)

Once again .. excellent song selection.
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2 months ago