Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fongyuan to Dongshih for cycling fanatics (China Post)

Bicycle-only tourist paths are popping up all over Taiwan. The northern part of Taichung County now has three, two of which join up on the outskirts of Fongyuan City.

With some determination, they can both be done on the same morning. The Dongfong Bicycle Path is by far the longer of the two. It stretches 12 kilometers to Dongshih, a town of 54,000 people that was once a center of Taiwan's logging industry.

Twelve kilometers may sound daunting if you seldom walk further than the nearest 7-Eleven. It may sound easy, if you drive 50 or 100 kilometers a day. It's neither. In fact, it's an excellent length for a recreational bicycle path: Enough to give riders a good workout, but not so long that occasional cyclists are frightened off.

The path follows the route of an old branch railway that used to carry people as well as timber. The trains stopped running in 1991, and nowadays only a few short sections of track remain. You'll likely cycle past these rusting rails without noticing them, until you come to the temblor-twisted tracks where Shihgang Railway Station once stood [pictured above].

These remains will almost certainly have you stopping for a few minutes and taking photos. They're an impressive reminder of the power of the earthquake that struck at 1.47 a.m. on September 21, 1999, leveling tens of thousands of buildings and killing more than 2,400 people...

The article is already online. This part of Taiwan has been in the news this week because a road bridge collapsed following a typhoon.

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