March 2, 2021
The next day, March 1st, I went to the Old Mountain Line to ride on their railbike.
Before I recount my travels there is a video of a similar trip here:
The weather was even hazier than yesterday. I couldn’t see the mountains around Miaoli until the afternoon when I passed through it again on the train.
The Miaoli train station. It looks better than this in real life; the “fibro” walls are really concrete.
On the local train from Miaoli to Samyi. My apologies for the photograph; I just snapped these quickly.
Scenery from the train window.
Sanyi railway station, equivalent to many suburban stations in country NSW. I caught a taxi right outside, closer that that van is in the photo.
The view from the back seat of the taxt. The taxi was just the same as ones driving Sydney streets.
The taxi drove up into the mountains, into a steep-sided valley with picturesque scenery. This is a photo of the outskirts of Shengxing Railway Station on the Old Mountain line.
On the outskirts of Shengxing Railway Station there was a religious procession – a line of trucks with accoutrements.
This photo shows a drum in one of the trucks, and also a man reacting to my photograph. There are characters along the length of the truck – what do they say?
As I was walking into the village an episode of fireworks was beginning. It lasted for five minutes, both multiple small firecrackers and large mortars. It was deafeningly loud, like a war. The photo shows some attendants cleaning up the spent red fireworks.
The railbikes in the earlier session, waiting to start off. This is only part of this group.
Our group were lined up in about eight rows by the very experienced organisers outside the station. We watched a short preview on the monitors above our heads – the dialog was in Mandarin but they were subtitles in English. I was matched up with a father and his 5 year old son. The father was very young, or am I just getting old? The father spoke no English at all. We moved in single file along the train track to the railbikes; this was an obedient crowd. We sat waiting patiently as the railbikes moved off one by one.
A view on the failbike ahead of us. We went through a tunnel and then down the railway surrounded by bush and the distant mountains – very scenic.
The railbikes were really railcars, seating four in two rows. They were limited to a jogging pace and were confined to a place in line, so they are very easy to handle.
The father offered through gestures to take my photo – it was very decent of him.
The remains of Long Teng Bridge, destroyed by an earthquake in the 1930’s.
We stopped on the far side of the valley for a break, before going back the way we came. This is a shot of people at the base of the destroyed bridge.
The father asked again if he could take a picture. To give you a sense of scale, the tree growing on the top of the ruined arch is full sized.
We mounted the railbikes and returned to Shengxing Railway Station. I walked back out of the village and by a stroke of luck met a taxi who dropped me at Samyi railway station. A local trail returned me to Taipei in time for dinner.