Sunday, 23 November 2014

From This Afternoon At Renyitan...

Last night I slept like one of my dogs, after yesterday morning's exertions at Wushantou. I didn't think I'd be able to repeat the 5am start, and that was as I'd expected - I didn't even hear the alarm such was the slumber I was in and it was 9.30 or so by the time I actually opened my eyes. That being the case I decided to go slow... have breakfast and coffee, do some laundry, take a shower, take the dogs out for a walk, read the news etc... and so I ended up taking the 12.22pm train from Tainan to Chiayi city.

Last weekend, though I didn't mention it on here, I had driven the motorbike down to Chiayi city from Douliu city in Yunlin county. I set off on the bike from Chiayi city at about 1.30pm and drove straight to the back of Renyitan reservoir, remembering the correct turn-off from a year or two ago. What I wanted to do today was to get better photographs of the water entry point into the reservoir. When I originally found it, it was very difficult to photograph because I had had to approach it from an acute angle with only the 18mm lens. This time I had the 10mm just in case, but also the inestimable advantage of having my own inflatable boat to approach the entry point dead-on as I had done earlier this year up in Miaoli and Hsinchu and a couple of weeks ago in Nantou.

Initially, I decided to approach the feeder stream from the muddy bank, rather than the makeshift dam which forms a partial barrier between the stream and the reservoir, however I soon found that the mud was insufficiently compact - after a few footsteps, I sank into it up to my knees...

Below you can see the tracks I left behind in the mud after that first failed attempt at reaching the water - had I gone any further I'd have been in up to my waist. So I decided then to withdraw and risk the public exposure of approaching the feeder stream from the makeshift dam; it is off-limits to the public, but the local fishermen don't have any qualms about using it and I wasn't about to give up...

After gingerly making my way along the dam barefoot (barefoot because my feet and legs were absolutely caked in clarts), I set my things down and washed myself off first before getting into the inflatable boat and paddling my way downstream to the entry point. As it is winter, I had expected there to be no water running into the reservoir, but I was wrong. It wasn't anywhere near as gushing as it had been last time I visited, but there was still running water cascading down between the baffling blocks...

The little trip downstream had only cost me just over five minutes and it was probably about the same coming back again. I had made my first attempt to reach the stream from the muddy shoreline at about ten past two, but it had taken me something like fifteen minutes to extract myself and another twenty minutes of wiping myself down and procrastinating before deciding to head for the makeshift dam. I had set off from the dam just before 3pm, and had taken all my shots, returned to the dam and packed up by about 3.30pm...

Yesterday I had thought about shooting something in particular at neighbouring Lantan reservoir too, but once I had packed up this afternoon there wasn't really enough time. I wanted to finally drive the motorbike back down to Tainan city, but to do so via provincial highway 3 which snakes through the hills between Renyitan reservoir and Guanzihling in Baihe district, and which section of the 3 I'd never seen before. It's a nice road, but eventually it forks at which point I took the 172. That road carries you through to Guanzihling and is an aesthetic delight to drive with almost no other traffic save the odd farmer's truck carrying bamboo. Driving back to Tainan this way also allowed me to avoid provincial highway 1, which, apart from being straight and boring, is a bit of a nightmare in terms of traffic.

It was a long drive back to Tainan, and I may spend the next couple of months just re-visiting the southern reservoirs at weekends to collect various photos that I am missing and re-take certain shots. However, I will need to return to the northern reservoirs for various bits and pieces too and I have yet to see the two little reservoirs in Keelung and the big one in Taipei county... Feitsui reservoir.

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