Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I Need A New "Big" Bike

For some time now, actually the better part of this year and the back end of last year, I've been having various irritating problems with what I call my "big bike" (big because it is physically bulky and heavy despite only being a dinky little 150cc). The electrics keep giving out on me despite a new battery, the suspension needs to be entirely replaced and the carburetor has been having "hiccups" for a while now. I've had it with the bloody thing. To be fair though, I've had a good six years of service out of it, which is probably pretty good for NT$30,000 (I bought it second hand in excellent condition back in 2008).

So for now it's sitting in my garage acting as a repository for my various other bits of kit. However, reality needs to be faced eventually and that reality is that it needs to be replaced at some point. For the moment, I have my little Kymco 125cc scooter which I use for work and errands and my little SYM 125cc motorbike up in Hsinchu for reservoir trips. If that little Kymco has a problem then I'm stuck with no other option but calling taxis, and it is not exactly suited to long trips out to the mountains down here in the south.

The big bike needs to be replaced, and I've been giving it some thought; what I'd like to buy is not another large scooter and certainly not a dirt bike or street racer or anything like that. What I want is something like my SYM "wolf" up in Hsinchu, with its standard rider position, but a bit bigger with more power. But I don't want to go through the nightmare of having something imported (obscene taxation and regulation costs), and I don't want to end up with a "Venox", which is the 250cc V-twin cruiser offered by Kymco*. What I'd like to have is something like an old Suzuki GT or that new Yamaha SR400. Something that looks and feels like a farmer's motorbike and is mechanically simple and easy to maintain, but which also has a bit more kick than the typical Kymco Grand King 150cc. I might head out to the Yamaha store tommorow to ask if they will sell an SR in Taiwan or something similar. It also occured to me to buy a new Grand King and swap the engine for a 200cc, but I'm not sure if it will fit and it's probably not something I'd have the time or money to bother with anyway.

That Yamaha SR would be ideal, but even if they do sell it in Taiwan I suspect it is going to be very pricy.

*The Venox is very heavy and underpowered and the parts quality is not very good apparently; it's also extremely tacky in appearance (horrible decals) and they only offer it in three colours, none of which I like (black, red, and dark grey). Even the Kymco dealer warned me against buying it and recommended the smaller KTR instead.


A second hand dealer in Taipei has a 2008 Triumph Bonneville for sale... only NT$58,800. That would do the trick, except that parts would be a nightmare to get hold of.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Another Trip To Hsinchu & Miaoli: Baoshan Second Reservoir & Yongheshan Reservoir Water Entry Points

I took the train up to Hsinchu again this morning and managed to accomplish two things. First, and this was my main objective for the day, I got clear shots of the water entry point into Baoshan Second reservoir and was well pleased that I was able to do so. Here it is...

I will not go into details, but getting these shots was not straightforward, though in the end it did prove to be easier than I had thought. At the moment, Baoshan Second reservoir is full so what you see here is the top of a cascading slope punctuated by baffling blocks all the way down, only the top three of which are visible in the shot below...

After having accomplished my main feat for the day, I had a couple of ice creams in Beipu village and then made my choice of what to do next. I could either do more exploratory work at Emei Lake, or I could try to improve upon the crappy shots of the water entry point to Yongheshan reservoir that I took a couple of years ago. I chose to head south to Yongheshan reservoir. One thing I found was that the path I had originally taken two years ago doesn't seem so familiar now - some of the surrounding overgrowth had been cut, but some of it has grown monstrously such that what I did last time was no longer possible. Instead I headed back out onto the ring road and followed a little farmers' lane down to the water edge, and, after a bit of "manoeuvring", I was able to get some clear shots further down where the water actually enters the reservoir per se...

There was a lot of debris floating around there, much of it driftwood, though there was also some plastics. I managed to finish off this second little mission and get back to the bike before the downpour arrived. I raced back through Sanwan, Beipu and Zhudong back to Hsinchu city and managed to outrun the storm. For a nice change I was even able to take the earlier 4.33pm train back to Tainan.

There is a lot more I could say about today's work, but I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Wei Ta-wei's (魏大惟) Dog Shelter In Changhua County

Too busy to blog anything at all this week, and am still busy over the weekend, but this story, seemingly yet another illustration of the malevolent incompetence of government, caught my eye this afternoon while I was out...
"A man who built 30 mobile doghouses for stray dogs on his own land on Baguashan (八卦山) in Changhua County has been slapped with a notice of illegal construction by the county government..."
If this is not just another case of mindless bureacratic oversight, then it would seem that members of the county government actually believe that they know what is best for Mr Wei and his dogs, which is of course what one would expect from people who work in government.

It is a wicked and stupid conceit.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Weather Interruption

Tommorow's weather forecast - note that the only county in Taiwan not forecasted for heavy rain and electrical storms is the one I want to go to, Hsinchu. But what I have to ask myself is... do I trust the weather bureau's forecasts? Of course not, especially considering what it is I want to do. So tommorow I will be taking a break, which will be beneficial for other reasons too, including "sleep debt" and the fact that I bought some new kit this week which I haven't yet had a chance to play about with (a new laptop computer, a new camera and some other useful things).

Thursday, 7 August 2014

"None of us can ever go back..."

My comment, which will not make it through, on this piece by Wang Yu-chi, a former resident of the Huaguang community...
"Thank you very much for that. However much the cost of what you have been through, you must look to and build for the future. None of us can ever go back."
None of us can act backwards through time, which is sufficient reason to take care not to indulge in memories too heavily. The government is not your friend, but in many cases neither is the past.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Third Trip To Baoshan Second Reservoir (寶山二水庫) Last Sunday

When I finally walked back in through the door last sunday, I was not, in fact, too tired to write up about what I had been doing in Hsinchu. But I did have too many other things to do that ate up all of my time, and this was also true of Monday and Tuesday. I write this, a quick substitute note, well after midnight on Tuesday night.


1) I followed up possibilities I had noted last time, including one particular abandoned path that had become long overgrown with bamboo and cobwebs. It turned out to be a dead end, but I am happy to have at least satisfied my curiosity, even if I had to pay for that with several face-fulls of spider silk. On my way back up, some kind of hawk flew right past me, but I wasn't prepared and had to switch lenses - once I had the 300mm attached, she took off before I could even get her in sight. There was also a noteworthy section of the path that had collapsed due to a small mudslide, and which required some minor acrobatics to cross...

2) I met an old fisherman who could speak some broken English and was keen to answer questions, and I was fortunate enough to get to talk to an engineer who works for the reservoir management centre, even though it was Sunday, and he answered a few questions for me and gave me information booklets and let me photograph some maps, which was fantastic.

3) Having had my original conjecture confirmed from the maps that the water diversion entry point into Baoshan second reservoir should enter somewhere in the north-east corner, I was then able to locate it for myself by turning off my engine and listening for the sound of falling water. However I was not able to see it or photograph it for physical reasons having to do with the contours of the reservoir and the placement of roads. I am trying to solve that problem.

4) I was able to confirm one of my earlier guesses that B2 is fed by the "left" channel at the weir intake I had seen previously.

5) I was able to find one of two aquaducts that form part of the diversion channel (the other is not easy to get to).

6) I found several related pieces of water infrastructure, including a small hydroelectric power station just upstream from where the B2 diversion begins.

So I am now almost finished with the reservoirs in Hsinchu; I have most of what I need for the first  Baoshan reservoir and about half of what I need for the second Baoshan reservoir. I need to complete that other half soon, which shouldn't be too difficult now if I can get hold of one or two things here in Tainan, and then I've got some exploration to do at Emei Lake, which should be relatively easy given how small it is.

After that, I have a choice between going back to Shihmen reservoir in Taoyuan, or going back to Yongheshan reservoir in northern Miaoli County; I still have some work to do at both reservoirs, but much more at the former than the latter. So once this is finished I will probably head further east to the back of Shihmen reservoir.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Last Night's Gas Explosions In Kaohsiung City

I was only just made aware of this now this lunchtime after being at work all through this morning. Sometime after 1am last night in Lingya district to the south of the city from Sanduo (3rd) road down to Yixin (1st) road. Apparently twenty two people have been killed and nearly three hundred injured. I found the video disturbing to watch, not because it shows much but because of the horrible volume of the explosions in the middle of the night. Had that happened where I now live in Tainan (I used to live in Kaohsiung), those explosions would have terrified my dogs. A number of possibilities would probably have crossed my mind upon hearing those explosions before the notion of a mains gas pipe failure occurred to me. There will have to be an investigation to determine what went wrong and how.

Linked via Turton.