Saturday, August 20, 2005

好久不見--Long time, No see!!

It's been forever since I last posted. I have been very busy working some mad summer hours. Thank God I am finally done for a while.
I had been teaching at the Tainan National First Girls School, or TNGS as the girls at the high school refer to it. I had a great time there and hope I can get some hours there in the fall semester. The girls are mostly attentive, with terrific English, a good sense of humour, and good imagination. As always there are some classes that certainly top out over others. Overall it was a great experience. Hopefully I can return.

Cindy and I recently went out to Maolin 茂林 in the last couple of weeks as well. Maolin is a national scenic area in Kaohsiung county. Maolin used to be the perfect weekend getaway because it was only about 1.5 hours away from Tainan. It's a beautiful aboriginal area tucked in the mountains, had some quiet, well sheltered camping spots on a clean river, easily accessible waterfalls and a free hot spring that wasn't all that bad either.
Sadly over the last year Maolin has taken a pretty bad beating. Heavy rains last year completely changed the 11km camping spot on the bend in the river from a small oasis nestled between amongst tall grasses to a barren moonscape filled with rocks, sand and truckloads of wood that was washed down the river. The area that was once lush with small trees, tall grasses and had a river deep enough to swim in is now only a shadow of it's former self with no plant life in the newly deposited sediments and shallow river that is rarely clean enough to swim in.
Since the rains last summer Maolin has only been punished further. The recent typhoon that swept through Taiwan in July smashed Maolin. Large areas of the main road were completely washed away. Other sections of the road were covered by large landslides or have slid downhill leaving the road in a questionable state of safety. The first waterfall has lost the public bathroom next to it and when I was there the second waterfall was inaccessible. The hot spring in the village of Dona which was the main Tourist attraction and helped bring money into the local economy was completely washed away and there is no trace of it left. One wonders what the local businesses that depended on the tourist dollars will do.
When I asked a local man about what he thought he just shrugged his shoulders and said with a blank look on his face, " What can we do?"
I asked him if they will rebuild the hot spring and he replied with a look of certainty but a rather subdued "Of course."
He was already busy clearing away debris from the area above the location of now-lost hot spring.
Aboriginals in Taiwan, as with most aboriginals around the world, are no stranger to hardship. They will pick up the pieces, get on with their lives, and make everything right again somehow. I think back to last year when Cindy and I were hiking in the mountains and we came across old Maolin village. The old village was burned to the ground by the Japanese occupying forces in an attempt to quell revolts by the aboriginals. If they have overcome such devastating experiences before they are certainly not short on resilience.
If you are looking for a getaway go out to Maolin. God knows they could use all the tourists they can get right now. Smashed up and torn apart or not it is still one of the most beautiful areas I have been to in Taiwan. You can still take a dip in the first waterfall as well.
Here are some shots of the road, the 11km camping spot (old shots followed by new) and the old location of the hot spring.
There are also some older pics from last years rains taken by some other foreigner here


Blogger fatrobot said...

cool looking place
i caused a lot of typhoons
and a few tornados
its a hobby of mine

August 21, 2005 3:13 AM  

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