Saturday, 27 September 2014

"Alptraum" : First Attempt To Reach Deiji Reservoir (德基水庫)

Instead of the usual Sunday trip to a reservoir in northern or central Taiwan, I instead took my trip today for reasons to do with work. As I am now taking my field trips in Nantou County, it is no longer practical to take the HSR train and instead I am taking the creaky old, TRA grandma trains that serve the central counties of Changhua and Nantou. Thus entrained to the TRA timetable, the only way I could arrive in Checheng at an early time was to leave Tainan on the Friday night night-train to Ershui in Changhua and then change trains in the middle of the night to arrive in Checheng at 5.35am. My only morning alternative would have seen me arrive in Checheng at well after 10am which would have severely limited my time given that I need to be back in Tainan by the late afternoon / early evening. So I took the night train. I had anticipated trying to sleep on the train since there would hardly be anybody else on it, but that turned out to be in vain as I was too nervous about the possibility of missing my connection.

In any case, today's trip has been something of a write-off. My objective was to get up to Deiji reservoir in Taichung county by driving northward all the way through Nantou county - this is the only practical approach since the typhoon-damaged central cross island highway has been abandoned by the central government. I had planned to drive up from the south through Puli township onto highway 14 and then up to Wushe, switching over to the 14_A and following that northward until reaching highway 8 and then taking that road down toward Deiji reservoir. That was what I had planned, but it was not what I accomplished. It was on the 14_A just past Hehuanshan at about 11am that I realised I had severely underestimated the length and demands of the trip...

1) The terrain; it is all narrow little switchbacks once you get onto the 14_A and this alone makes the drive very slow.

2) The terrain; the views are spectacular and I wasted too much time taking pictures of mountains and valleys, and that was not really why I was there.

3) The horrendous traffic jams up in the mountains; although I could often squeeze my way through the rows of endless cars on my little motorbike I couldn't always do this without serious risk of accident.

4) The air temperature; I knew it would be cold but it was significantly colder than I had anticipated and this gave the bike's carburetor a bad case of hiccups. This in turn made overtaking impossible at times as I simply didn't have the power to exploit gaps in the traffic convoy the way I normally would.

5) The air temperature; I had brought a sweater with me, but this wasn't enough and after I bought an extra under-shirt from a convenience store I found this wasn't enough either - by the time I reached 3,000 meters I was uncomfortably cold and starting to shiver. Before I left the house last night I had thought about bringing my new jacket but decided it would take up too much room in my bag and I had other things to carry.

6) The altitude; today was the highest I've ever been without being on a flight, and it made me slightly dizzy and nauseous. I was OK when I finally got back down the mountain to the little town of Wushe overlooking Wan-Da reservoir.

So it was at a little snack bar several kilometers after the famous Hehuanshan peak that I decided to pull the plug and turn back. There was simply no way I was going to make it to Deiji reservoir and get back to Checheng at a reasonable time - and that's without even taking the trip back to Tainan into consideration. It was also threatening to rain by that point, and being high up in the clouds it would be especially cold and I didn't have a raincoat with me and nor was I within a reasonable distance of getting a cheap one.

So that was that - I didn't get to see Deiji reservoir and that whole trip needs a thorough re-think before next weekend. It cannot be put aside for much longer because winter is coming and there is no way the black bike is going to survive the icy air of winter at 3,000+ meters. I have a few choices to stew over in the next couple of days.

Anyway, a few pictures from today....

Looking eastward over Mingtan reservoir at sometime after 6am this morning.
At about 10am looking south-eastward over the mountains from an altitude just shy of  the 3,000 meter mark.
From just below Hehuanshan's eastern peak looking across to the iconic rolling hill backdrop to that peak stretch of highway 14_A.
Back down in Nantou at Minghu reservoir dam for the hydroelectric plant; notice the immense pipes draped over the hillside.
A brief look back over Minghu reservoir; it was approaching 2pm at this point and there wasn't time left to explore.
I changed the oil on the bike myself first thing after I arrived, so it should be good to go again next week; if I don't make another attempt on the approach to Deiji reservoir, then I might spend my time familiarizing myself with Sun Moon Lake and its' two adjacent reservoirs and the hydroelectric power plants they serve.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

After The Scottish Referendum

Tropical storm Fung-Wang hit us here in Tainan yesterday afternoon, but it was not particularly bad and it has now passed us by leaving behind drizzle and dank, overcast skies - somewhat reminiscent of Scotland. I was very tired from work and related driving last week and so collapsed into sleep for much of yesterday and today. That may have been a benefit in some ways, but the cost of the storm is that I put aside my planned trip to Deiji reservoir up in the mountains of Taichung county.

Meanwhile everyone's been talking about the Scottish referendum. I've had Taiwanese friends asking me which side I supported, and there have been the expected op-eds written about it by the pro-independence Taiwanese. Being English but having lived in Scotland during an important part of my life, I felt a bit strange about the whole thing. I'll summarize in three points...

The first point is that it strikes me as entirely normal that such a question should be decided by a free and fair referendum. It is unthinkable to me that there could ever be any question of State violence over such a thing as the Scots deciding to secede from the Union. And yet there are so many Taiwanese people here talking about a "win" for democracy and that the British should be proud of the referendum. That sentiment strikes me as disturbing. It is, in essence, a commendation for not wanting to force other people into a political arrangement against their will. You're not supposed to be commended for such a thing. Of course the Taiwanese only say this kind of thing because they are accustomed to living under the constant threat of China's 2nd Artillery. Unlike the British, the Chinese have next to no modern tradition of consensual and limited government, and their 20th century was little more than barbaric despotism and subjugated starvation.

The second point is that whilst I support the right of secession, I do not support the right of a devolved Scottish government in Holyrood to spend money raised from taxation across the UK. It wouldn't bother me one bit if the UK Parliament were to agree to devolve all powers to Scotland (excluding defence and foreign policy) so long as taxation and debt were also devolved so that the Scottish government is forced to keep its' own books. That being said, if I was still living in Edinburgh and had any money then I would be very apprehensive, given the sort of leftish reptiles like Jim Sillars the Scots have elected down the years. I worry about some of my old friends in Edinburgh - or at least, I would if I were not too preoccupied with my own cares here in Taiwan.

The third point concerns England*. The vast majority of the UK population resides in England, and the West Lothian question - why should an MP elected for a Scottish constituency vote on issues affecting only English constituencies? - ought to be resolved. The simplest solution is obvious: introduce a new procedural rule prohibiting MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from voting on issues that only affect English constituencies. Done. There is no need for a separate "English Parliament" outside of London or for "regional elected assemblies" as suggested by a previous Labour government, or for devolving domestic legislation to the old English counties (or for reanimating the dead-for-a-millenium Heptarchy). The advantage of removing this electoral absurdity is that it would hamstring a future Labour government by making it impossible for them to rely on their Scottish MPs (something like 40-odd from the 59 Parliamentary seats belonging to Scotland) to pass domestic legislation affecting England. Of course England would still be subject to the Conservative Party, but a weakened Labour Party may mean that it could yet become possible to start jailing England's homegrown Islamist nutters and incentivizing them to either leave England altogether or to throw away their Qurans and start going to the pub and behaving like normal people. On the other hand, I doubt the Conservatives would even do that much.

Finally, whilst I have always disliked the Scottish Nationalists both when I was in Edinbugh and ever since I left, I have many fond memories of Scotland (and not only of Edinburgh, but of other places too - especially Perth) and I would have felt somewhat sad if the Scots had voted "yes". I had friends in Edinburgh, particularly at the church, whom I strongly suspect would have voted "no", and I am pleased for them that their side won this referendum.  

*Later... a counter-argument written by Robert Henderson can be found here. The gist of it is that there would remain the problem of non-English MPs forming a UK government that would then be responsible for drafting English legislation even though they could not vote on it. Hence the necessity of an English Parliament.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Tropical Storm "Fung-Wang"

I often find that the CWB's forecasts and predictions are wrong. I also often find that they are right, but I haven't bothered to collate the data to get a sense of overall accuracy. Among their forecast errors in particular, I have found the CWB to be occassionally wrong about the impact of typhoons; I have known several that were predicted to bring strong winds and rain, but which brough little of either. In any case, when they are warning about a possible typhoon making landfall it is probably best to play it safe and assume their predictions are correct. I do not want to be struggling in gale force winds in second gear on my motorbike on the side of a mountain somewhere up in Nantou.

So that's my trip up to Deiji reservoir this weekend cancelled then.

Monday, 15 September 2014

First Trip To Wan-Da Reservoir (萬大水庫)

I took the first HSR train to Taichung yesterday morning and then drove straight out eastward into Nantou County up to Wan-Da reservoir. This was actually the first time I had ever stepped foot in Taiwan's only landlocked county; coming south out of Taichung HSR station I took the 127 south-east onto provincial highway 63 and then crossed over onto provincial highway 14 and ran straight up to Ren-Ai township at the north end of Wan-Da reservoir. I left Taichung HSR at 7.30am and arrived at the reservoir at 9.15am, which is slightly quicker than I had hoped. The other bonus was that the weather was glorious, and proved the forecast (cloudy) completely wrong.

I had avoided taking pictures along the drive from Taichung into Nantou in order to save time and so my first shot of the day was this one below, taken from a little elementary school overlooking the north end of the reservoir...

Here is the same shot taken further from the right to encompass part of the mud that clogs up the river's entrance into the reservoir...

At 149 million cubic meters in capacity, Wan-Da reservoir is one of Taiwan's larger reservoirs (the sixth-largest) and is fed by Taiwan's largest river, the Zhuo-shui river which runs westward through central Taiwan out of Nantou. Like Taiwan's other large mountain reservoirs Wan-Da reservoir has a major siltation problem, though I gather the problem is significantly worse at Wan-Da than elsewhere. Here is a shot from the north-west looking eastward to the bend where the clogged-up river enters the reservoir...

I followed the road down to the south end of the reservoir. One of the questions that was prompted from examining google maps and streetview the day before was whether the access road which departs from the main road running parallel to the reservoir would be gated or not. This access road runs all the way down to the dam. I found it to be ungated, but that there was a security checkpoint further down where I was prevented from looking around the dam and intake tower. I would have liked to have asked the old security guard technical questions about the dam and the reservoir and I would like to think that, despite him being only a security guard, there should be a reasonable chance that he would know the answers. Unfortunately, he was, as they usually are, suspicious of me and so even if he had known the answers I guessed he probably would not have told me anything useful that I didn't already know. He allowed me to walk around the immediate vicinity to take pictures but that was it. My other disappointment was that there was no sign of a management office there where I could at least have asked for tourist literature. Here is the view toward the upstream face of the dam from only a slight elevation above the water...

And here is a view looking back upstream at a slight angle to the reservoir's axis...

After I rejoined the main road I turned south again and quickly found the litte hill with some kind of hostel or coffee shop at the top (closed) which has probably the most popular view from which to take pictures of Wan-Da reservoir. This one was with the 18mm lens...

And this next one was with the 10mm lens to squeeze myself into the shot...

This next shot was taken with the 300mm pointed toward the north end of the reservoir but with the focus retracted back slightly to take in something of the skyline...

And here is the same shot but with the 300mm extended to its' full reach; note the little motorboat heading north-west and the enormous, glacier-like presence of the river's silted residue...

Whilst on top of the little hill I took a few more shots with my 300mm mounted on my tripod; below is the best view I could manage of the upstream face of the dam and the spillway gates...

Next, there is this shot of the debris-catchment line accompanied by three motorized and roofed pontoons...

On either side of the reservoir there were little houseboats floating close to the shoreline, presumably used for weekend fishing rather than water testing. Here are three near the eastern shore (with a fourth partially hidden in the background)...

And another three near the western shore with a small floating platform in front of them...

My major disappointment for the day was on finding that there was only one road that went anywhere near the downstream face of the dam and that it was blocked off for use solely by Taipower employees; Wan-Da reservoir has a major hydro-electric power plant downstream from the dam and public access is restricted. Here is where the water flows out of the plant to let the Zhuoshui river continue downstream...

Disappointed though I was, the weather was still glorious as the clock got around to 11am. This vertical shot below shows the hillside sandwiched between the still-blue sky and the river below...

The Zhuoshui river leaving the hydro-electric power plant to run its' muddy course downstream...

The main road (the Nantou 83) leaves the reservoir behind and snakes its way south-westward following the Zhuoshui river through the valleys. It was a long drive with the sun approaching its' zenith. I stopped at one point to photograph what is listed on google maps as "Wu Jie reservoir" (武界水庫) but is elsewhere referred to as the "Wu-Jie adjustment pool" (武界調整池)...

If I understand correctly, the two dam-and spillway sets at Wu-Jie perform three functions, the first of which is power generation via the dam on the right, and the second is to tunnel water downhill through subterrannean pipes to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) via the dam on the left. The third function is flood control on the river itself.

A shot of the dam on the right taken with the 300mm at full stretch...

And a view of the dam on the left also taken with the 300mm at full stretch. The spillway is to the right and the water enters the penstock and tunnel through the gated apertures to the left. Further to the left of the image there is a tunnel entrance which is for the Nantou-83; later I had to drive through there...

Out on the other side, the 83 crosses a small bridge over the Zhuoshui river after which it's route is picked up by the 71 and it begins to climb up into the hills. I stopped briefly here to drink and look down over the valley below...

At its' peak the 71 goes through a lengthy and chilly tunnel after which it rewards you with a north-westward view overlooking Puli township (埔里鎮)...

I stopped at Puli for a much needed rest and then left just after 12pm on the 131 south to Sun Moon Lake. My first objective was to get to the old train station at Checheng for 2pm in order to catch the 2.20pm train to Ershui in Changhua county. However, I also wanted to take in something of Sun Moon Lake and Mingtan and perhaps also Minghu reservoirs to the west of the lake. I had never been to Sun Moon Lake before though of course I had heard that traffic around the lake on weekends is extremely crowded. It was indeed that. I decided to stop briefly to take pictures at one point along a relatively uncongested stretch of highway 21 which rings the lake...

I have to say that Sun Moon Lake is more beautiful than I had expected it to be, but of course it was aided in this by the still-glorious weather. The other thing about it is that it is very large and it is easy to see why some people think it is the largest body of freshwater in Taiwan (in actual fact, it is only 8 square kilometers in area, which is smaller than both Tseng-wen and Wushantou reservoirs).

I did not stay long however as I was anxious to get down into Shuili township and up to the old train station at Checheng beneath the Mingtan dam. I arrived before 2pm with plenty of time to spare so I took some shots overlooking the reservoir behind the Mingtam dam before I headed down into Checheng itself...

I took some tourist literature about Mingtan dam and its' hydroelectric power plants and then went in search of some beers to take with me on the train since I was parched, stinking and exhausted. The view from the tiny little platform at Checheng up toward the dam; part of the old railway has been turned into a plaything for the children and there is a wood museum and many and many shops.

Checheng is where I parked my bike for the next trip, which will either be to Mingtan and Minghu reservoirs plus Sun Moon Lake, or it will be straight north up into the mountains of Taichung to see Deiji reservoir. I've yet to decide.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

On The Question Of Why I Was "Banned" By The Taipei Times

I will concede when I am guilty of a mistake or of the indiscipline of getting carried away. It seems to me that admitting your guilt, when guilty you are, is a personality attribute necessary for other attributes to play their part too. On Tuesday night I was guilty of breaking commenting rules I had agreed not to break. Not only was my comment deleted (which is fair enough - I subsequently revised it), but it was brought to my attention Wednesday morning, by way of implication, that a few years ago my "fate was sealed" at the Taipei Times (i.e. my letters would no longer be published) because I had also been guilty of rudeness then. This was news to me, since I had never asked for, and had never been given any explanation for why my letters were no longer published. However I must admit that I am prone to just say what I want when sometimes I should be more careful, so perhaps I am guilty of the charge. Let's consider the evidence: my letters to the Taipei Times in the time leading up to the "ban", which occured sometime between the end of April 2011 and the end of May 2011*...

My last published letter in the Taipei Times was this one published on the 23rd of April 2011. The tone is quite reasonable and it references one of the Taipei Times' own stories for the numbers cited therein. There is a note at the bottom of my blog-post entry expressing my annoyance that somebody at the Taipei Times altered my figures, but that was justified since 5 x 4 does not make 15.

The next letter I sent to the Taipei Times was on the 9th of May 2011. It was a response to an editorial piece advocating (poorly) the inclusion of "gender diversity" issues as part of school curricula. The first two paragraphs are a bit sharp, but there is nothing in there which could be construed as "rude" or "abusive" language.

A few days later on the 11th May 2011 I sent a letter to the Taipei Times rebutting Gavin Lee's insistence that Taiwan's nuclear power stations could immediately be replaced by solar energy. The letter contained a rather sharp criticism of surplus purchasing schemes in its' third paragraph, but it did not contain any rude or abusive language.

Two weeks later I wrote another letter to the Taipei Times on the 22nd May 2011. In it, I said that other people's views and opinions should not be dismissed on account of perceived "hatred" as one Michael Scanlon had insisted. Scanlon had claimed that the use of the phrase "homosexual agenda" in another letter by somebody called Carol Nichols was "hateful" and "hate-filled" and "repugnant" (and several other barbs), with the obvious implication that therefore her views should be dismissed. However, as I pointed out in my letter, Scanlon himself (and no shortage of others) had written things about the KMT and President Ma that could just as easily be construed as "hateful". I still think this was an excellent point well worth making.

At the end of May 2011 (the 27th), I sent another letter to them concerning what was then the breaking DEHP-tainted drinks scandal. Again, the tone is reasonable and there is no use of rude or abusive language whatsoever. Since that letter went unpublished, I sent a second letter on the same topic the following Tuesday (31st May 2011) in which I asked questions of how the original DEHP revelations had come to light and pressed further my point that there ought to be a critical look at how the FDA regulations are designed. Again this letter contained no rude or abusive language but again, it went unpublished. I sent a third, and final letter on the subject of the DEHP scandal and the rapidly proposed "solutions" for the drinks industry on Friday the 3rd of June 2011. Once again the letter contained no rude or abusive language, yet even as I sent it I had the distinct feeling that I might have saved myself the effort and not bothered, which proved to be correct as it also went unpublished.

It was at this point - after three consecutive unpublished letters on the same topic, that it dawned on me I had been "banned". That realization was aided by reading the letters from other people that did get published, for instance this one, which offered no fresh analysis of the problem but instead merely repeated the sense of outrage and a simplistic call for the government to enact unspecified regulation to "solve the issue once and for all".

The available evidence from the letters I sent to the Taipei Times during that period between the end of April to the end of May 2011 shows no rude or abusive language.

But what about the other intervening blog posts I made during that period? A scroll through my archives reveals just over 60 blog posts made between the date of my last published letter and my 3rd letter on the DEHP scandal. Of those 60 posts, only 16 had anything to do with the Taipei Times. Two of these were posts about Mark Rawson, who in the previous September had insinuated that the Taipei Times could be taken to court for printing a letter from me. I was scathing of Rawson, but I'm not sure what, if any, connection he has to the Taipei Times. The other 14 posts were various responses to articles in the Taipei Times which could easily be listed and made available here.

As far as I can tell, my "fate was sealed" at the Taipei Times not because my language was rude or abusive but because of the substance of my letters and the irritation and perhaps embarassment these letters gave to the people who worked there at the time. Of course, not having been privy to the decision I really don't know for certain why they "banned" me.

*Also, at one point toward the end of that period, my blogger account was temporarily suspended.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday Trip From Hsinchu Back Down To Taichung Via Yongheshan & Mingde Reservoirs

Today was the official mid-autumn festival and a national holiday, which meant an extra day off work. I took the opportunity to lie in yesterday and just potter about the house doing chores. This morning however, I took the train up to Hsinchu again but with a change of plan; previously I had intended to shift it further north to take in Feitsui reservoir in Taipei County and then eventually on to the two little reservoirs in Keelung, but I decided instead to drive the motorbike back down to Taichung city after having ditched another plan to park the bike in Ershui, Changhua County. Several reasons prompted this change of plan, the most important of which is the fact that the end of summer is approaching and I would rather visit Deiji reservoir high up in the mountains of Taichung and Wan-Da reservoir in Nantou before winter sets in rather than after. Perhaps I should have made these trips earlier in the summer, but for various reasons I was very keen on getting up to the reservoirs in Hsinchu.

So today's excursion was primarily just a straight drive south from Hsinchu to Taichung, but I did stop by at Yongheshan reservoir and Mingde reservoir in Miaoli County.

Overlooking the dam at Yongheshan reservoir.
In front of the spillway at Mingde reservoir just after noon.
At Yongheshan I managed to talk my way into the management building to photo the maps and diagrams and get them to fish out some old literature for me. I had to work at it though, because rather than the regular staff, there was only a young lad who didn't have a clue and seemed to be under the impression that he was a military official who could order me to leave! Of course I did no such thing, and eventually the attached police officer came over to the building and let me have the old literature and take photos; he was just amused that I could hold court in Mandarin about Taiwan's reservoirs.

A map based on satellite imagery showing (not very clearly in this shot) the route of the diversion channel from the Nanzhuang river into Yongheshan reservoir.
An aerial photograph of the dam from (presumably) 1984; the filling of the reservoir is not yet complete.
A simplified profile of the upstream face of the dam, with various depth standards against which to monitor and regulate the inflow and outflow of water from the reservoir.  
A simplified diagram of the dam structure atop the original ground line. The core of the dam seems to be particularly large and the upstream and downstream shells particularly narrow in comparison to other reservoirs I've seen in Taiwan.
When I left the building I took some more shots and stopped to talk to a group of retirees for twenty minutes or so and then hopped on the bike to drive back south through Miaoli.

On the way back down south. I deliberately switched from provincial highway 1 over to the 13 so I could make another pit stop at Mingde reservoir and take more pictures there. There was a little convenience store which I remembered as being run by a middle aged couple originally from Tainan last time I was there in 2012. It seems they've since sold the little store to someone else. I stopped for drink and to see if I might also be able to get literature from the Mingde management office but it was closed with not a soul in sight. I sat around in a pavillion taking pictures and talking to another middle-aged couple from Taipei County; the chap seemed to think I could get access to Feitsui reservoir if only I talked to someone he was telling me about at NTU in Taipei. The problem was he was talking well outside of my vocabulary range for me to understand the necessary details.

After my little break at Mingde reservoir, I rejoined highway 13 which passes by the spillway and stopped for some parting snaps - which was when I noticed that the electronic gate for the new water treatment works had been left open. Naturally I took my chance without hesitating and drove straight in to take pictures - nobody stopped me. From atop one of the buildings, you can get some unobstructed views toward the old spillway, as well as look over the small water treatment facility itself...

A funny thing happened though - as I hopped back onto the bike to leave, I found that the electronic gate had now been shut. So I got off and walked into the office and looked around but nobody was there. I then looked around for an electronic key fob but found nothing. There was a name card for the facility chief whose cell number I called, but no answer. So I walked back out to the gate to see if there was a manual release button but the box was very difficult to reach as it was concealed behind a boxed-off wall. Just as I gave that up to rest on the gate and think about what to do next, one of the employees in T-shirt and jeans rocked up on a scooter. I explained that I had seen the gate open and went in to take pictures of the Mingde reservoir spillway then the gate shut on me; he laughed, said I shouldn't be there and then let me out. If I'd have done that in the U.S. I'd have likely been detained to have my "papers" inspected and to be questioned by the FBI.

I lost a little bit of time stuck in that water treatment plant, but quickly made it up on my way out of Miaoli. I sped through the southern rural districts of Miaoli and down into Fengyuan remembering to get into the correct lane after the bridge and before passing under the freeway. I left the 13 onto the 10, crossed briefly onto the "other" 1 and then snapped back almost immediately onto the ridiculous, but invaluable route that is the 125 and got myself back to the HSR station. As usual there were massive cues for the ticket vending machines and I consequently missed the 14:38 train back to Tainan and had to wait for the 15:01 train. There is a nice view out toward Taichung city from the eastern platform, but it's somewhat cramped by the station architecture. There are probably better ways to frame this shot and I might make a real effort at it another time...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Short & Late Trip Saturday To Neipuzi Reservoir (內埔子水庫) In Minxiong District (民雄鄉), Chiayi County

Today I'm staying home rather than taking the train up north. For one thing I am tired after driving up to Chiayi county and back again yesterday; I went there after work in the late afternoon to photograph a small reservoir I had previously been unaware of (I had been using an older version of google maps on which it wasn't shown). However I became aware of it not from switching to the current version of google maps, but from studying an (out of date) online list of dams in Chinese that I found a couple of months ago.

On that list, this reservoir is named "Neipuzi reservoir" (內埔子水庫)* and it is located about five kilometers to the north of Lantan reservoir outside Chiayi city in Minxiong District (民雄鄉). A glance at google maps appears to show that Neipuzi reservoir is about half the size of Luliao reservoir which straddles the Tainan / Chiayi county border. The statistics given on the aforementioned list only modify this estimate somewhat as they have Neipuzi at a third the area of Luliao (19 hectares as compared to 59 hectares) with just over half of Luliao's effective capacity (690,000 m3 as compared to Luliao's 1.2 million m3). Neipuzi reservoir is thus a very small reservoir.

Despite its' small size, Neipuzi reservoir has all the usual architectural features of a proper reservoir - a sectioned earth dam, concrete overflow spillway and an intake tower housing an hydraulic gate which is reached via a short pier.

On its western side at the midway point, there was also a small pavillion providing a map of the reservoir and advertising the small road running by it as a bicycle lane, though it was obviously not built for this purpose but rather as an ordinary access road for miscellaneous vehicle traffic. On another day with better weather Neipuzi reservoir would look quite scenic. When I arrived there however, the light had deteriorated, but also, judging by comparison to the google street view images, so had the reservoir: its' dam is now long overgrown with weeds and rushes, the spillway step is clogged up with broken bits of bamboo and trash and so it appears to have had next to no maintenance for a long time.

Nevertheless, I did catch a few locals fishing; two on a pipe-raft which was, somewhat ridiculously (given the tiny size of the reservoir), equipped with an outboard motor, and two at the back of the reservoir who had waded in up to their necks with fishing nets...

I stayed only long enough to take pictures and then headed off back south to Chiayi city where I met up with a friend for pizza before driving back to Tainan. I am only somewhat familiar with Chiayi city having visited only occasionally (something like six or seven times) and so I immediately became disoriented when attempting to leave an unfamiliar part of the city centre on minor roads at night. After a few minutes of error-correction I found Minzu road and then I was off. I passed by the Chiayi "UFO" building at 9.25pm and made excellent time by arriving back home in Tainan city just before 10.25pm (despite having had to make a pit stop in Xinshih for gas). I did that trip on the little white 125cc scooter, rather than the bigger 150cc which is still stuck in my garage until I get around to scrapping it. I don't want to make long trips like that again until I replace the 150cc bike with something brand new and twice as big or bigger. That will have to wait until next year.

*However, there is a sign in front of the downstream face of the dam designating it as "Houtopi" and this is what two of the local teenagers fishing there told me it was called. "Houtopi" is also the name given to another very small reservoir in Tainan County's Xinhua district, which I haven't yet seen.