Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Route 2c (台二丙)

Route 2c is originally designed as a bypass road from Taipei to Ilan (宜蘭). The Snow Mountain Tunnel connecting Taipei to Ilan was very difficult to build. The rock was so hard that the first tunneling machine broke down at the first day of use. The tunneling than hit an underground water stream causing several deaths of workers. No insurance company would cover the construction after the accident. The tunnel was considered not constructable at the time. It eventually took over 10 more years to finish. In the meantime, the only way to Ilan at the east of Taipei is through the coastal road and through a very winding road over the mountain. Route 2c started from ShihFeng (十分) down to the Northeast coast. It can be used as an alternative road to Ilan. The road to ShihFeng from Taipei is a well paved scenic road. ShihFeng and all the other villages along the road were coal mining villages from the Japanese occupation era. They were connected by a narrow-track railroad, which is still running today. ShihFeng has the largest waterfall of Taiwan. We have taken many pictures of it in the Spring.

However, the construction of Route 2c was half-hearted and took a long time. Now even the Snow Mountain Tunnel is completed, what happen to Route 2c? I was surprised to be told by two sources that the road is passable now. On Sunday, October 5th, Grace and I packed our gear and made the trip. To my great surprise that the road is almost completely finished and it is one of the most beautiful road with bike pass on the side of highway. It gently slopes down from ShihFeng to the coast. We can stop now and then to soak our feet in the mountain stream. We passed a very nice village call ShuangXi (雙溪) or Twin-river village. Like ShihFeng, it can be reached by railroad. At GongHe village (共和村) or Republic Village, there is a brand new beautiful red bridge called GongHeDaQiao (共和大橋) "Republic Big Bridge" , with a bicycle sign painted on the road surface indicating that it is bicycle friendly. I had the image of Iraqi Republican Guard rushing out from the bridge on bicycles!! It was a good place to practice how to use wide-angle lens. Apparently the road is also used by heavy motorcyclists, who can not use the Snow Mountain Tunnel. We passed by a service station for the heavy motorcycle. A rarity in Taiwan. The day was a beautiful fall day.

Route 2c connects to Route 120 and ends at Fulong (福隆). Fulong has a beautiful sand beach. Because it is reachable by railroad, our family used to sea bathing here when we were young. It is also famous for the lunch box, which vendors sell directly to the passengers on the train. We did not have the Fulong lunch box but had a lobster lunch in a restaurant not far from the 4th nuclear power station, which is still under construction. I assumed that the lobster was non-radioactive. On the way back we again took a lot of photographs of the coast. There are pictures of Grace photographing me, and of me photographing rocks at the same time. The last two pictures are the ruins of Taiwan's one and only gold mine.

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