Saturday Morning

 

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Driving south along the eastern coast of Taiwan this morning was a little like being in Scarborough!  The waves were breaking over the seafront and the outlook was a little bleak to say the least.  Never mind.  We were on our way to the Gold Ecological Park and our guide Peter assured us that it rains for half the year here.  This was nothing unusual.

 

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The lanterns were swinging in the breeze however and we rather hoped we’d come adequately equipped for our morning out.

 

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Turning inland and starting the drive up to the former goldmine, high above the coast, it was clear to see that this was an area of heavy rainfall, for the hillside was covered with ferns and mosses.  The river was bright orange, due to the heavy iron oxides coming from the earth.

 

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Mary, this was a road on which the Weston Prayer was required!  Single track the whole way with only one or two passing places, we were fortunate to meet just one other vehicle right by one of them.  The steep hairpin bends and precarious edges wouldn’t have made this a very comfortable drive for me, I must say.

 

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But we were in the hands of a professional and in no time at all we were at the top and getting ourselves buttoned up in macs and kagoules ready for the off.

Aren’t the azaleas lovely?

 

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Peter led the way and set a brisk pace…we followed, pleased to be moving right along, if only to keep warm.  It seemed like we had the place to ourselves, too, which was a contrast to yesterday!

 

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The little snack bar had a cute sign, offering a “Delicious Mineworker’s Lunch Box”, including the Pearl Milk Tea we’ve heard about but been unable to sample.  Oh well…there’s always next time!

 

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As we walked along the path, we occasionally remembered to look back over the valley to the village and catch a glimpse of the houses perched high up there.  We also spotted a golden figure amongst them, which Peter told us we’d see again later.

 

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There were many graves on the hillside too, not only from the mineworkers but also from the prisoners of war who had been in forced labour here. 

 

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Inside the Museum, there were interesting displays of how the mine was operated.

 

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There were sweet exhibits of the people who lived in the village here

 

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and a very touching memorial to the British prisoners of war who died here.  I knew nothing of this, and found out more here

 

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Also in here were items of jewellery and hair pins such as this one.

 

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I very much liked the way they were displayed, though the lighting made photography a challenge.

 

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The main exhibit was the “largest block of gold in the world”, which one could touch but not take!  22.5 kg, I believe.

 

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Coming out of the museum, it was still tipping down with rain, so we buttoned ourselves up again and continued down the hill towards the village.

 

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We were heading for the Cyunangi Temple, and if our spirits needed lifting at all, this was the place.

 

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The colour was amazing and the whole ceiling was covered with these brilliant paintings and three dimensional friezes.

 

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The temple itself was a little more subdued and unlike yesterday, we were the only ones in the place so felt free to wander about.

 

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The little fountain in the centre was colourfully decorated with a dragon and a crane.

 

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There was a little New Year decoration too.  But spotting the wooden pieces as I’d used to communicate with the Deity yesterday, I thought I’d ask another question.  Will it stop raining tomorrow?  I eventually had #59 confirmed and Peter agreed to translate for me once we were back on the bus.

 

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This was a Taoist temple, by the way, and the bronze statue we’d seen from above is Saintly Emperor Guan.  It’s quite a landmark and can be seen from all over the area.

 

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There was just time to take a quick photograph across the valley before returning to the bus.  See what a steep place it is?

 

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OK, said Peter, let me read the fortune paper.  He’d forgotten his specs though, so wearing mine he read and thought.  He read a little more and thought a little more.  Interpreting my slip of paper was clearly not easy.  He asked again what my question had been…will it stop raining tomorrow?  With another look at the paper and a sigh, he gave me the translation.

“No.”

 

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Just as well the best weather for visiting waterfalls is in the rain, then!   We made a quick stop at the Golden Falls on the way back to the coast road and were due to stop at the Yin and Yang Bay, so called because the iron oxide-laden water creates a yin/yang sign where the river meets the sea.  But today, the heavy currents and strong waves were dispersing it and no such sign was going to be visible.  Never mind, we’ll go straight on to the fish market.

 

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This was one spectacular place!  A huge variety of fish and shellfish, very few of which we recognised but all of which looked very fresh indeed.

 

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Everything, including these green lipped mussels (which I did recognise) was clearly marked with a price and beautifully displayed.

 

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The colours were incredible.  Even these comparatively plain ?crayfish? have bright yellow legs!

 

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I can’t be the only one to see a koala face on those grey crabs, can I?

 

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Whilst business wasn’t exactly booming, there were customers and Peter bought his lunch – sashimi – whilst there.  We were offered tastings of cooked fish and some delicious dried and very spicy flaked fish too, but needless to say, weren’t in a position to buy anything at all.

 

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But it’s such fun noticing things, especially ordinary things like these bottles of soft drinks which are packaged so differently and in a way which appears to be so characteristic of the place.  We don’t always have to buy, of course.

 

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From the fish market, it was a short drive back to the ship in our luxuriously decorated coach.  The inside was very blue

 

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and the outside very yellow!  We’d had a really great morning and were delighted with our choice of destination.

It was good to come home and change into dry clothes and shoes before lunch, though, that’s for sure.

 

The next couple of days are going to be patchy as far as internet connection is concerned, because Japan places a restriction on communications within 12 miles of the coastline.  So, if you don’t read anything new here for a day or two, don’t worry…you’ll be able to catch up when we’re back in China!

Rocking and Rolling

Friday afternoon