Monday, 6 April 2015

The First Of Two Chiayi Trips

Two weekends ago (on Sunday 29th March), I drove the black motorbike from Tainan back up to Chiayi with the intention of following the feeder stream for the lesser of Chiayi city's two reservoirs, Lantan reservoir. In doing so what I hoped to find was some kind of tunnel mouth where the water left the tunnel shaft from the larger Renyitan reservoir and entered into the feeder stream. I didn't find it though I did pick up little bits of information along the way. Naturally, I also took a few pictures of both reservoirs whilst I was there though in the early afternoon when I arrived the weather was overcast and dull...

Lantan reservoir, on an overcast and dull day with the mountains in the background obscured by haze.
Almost a week later (Friday 3rd April) I returned to Chiayi in gloriously hot weather to continue my work in tracking down the feeder stream tunnel mouth, and once again I stopped to take pictures. Here's a similar shot of Lantan reservoir just before I left...

Weather is almost everything in landscape photography. 
Back to the March 29th trip, I had arrived at the back of the reservoir around noon and found that the bridge over the feeder stream had been boarded up to prevent public access during remedial construction work on the feeder streams banks. I passed through the open door and followed the feeder stream in the hope of eventually finding a tunnel or other structure leading all the way back to Renyitan reservoir about two kilometers away to the east...

The tunnel mouth under the road which allows the feeder stream to enter Lantan reservoir.
Following the feeder stream.
For comparison, here is what the feeder stream looked like viewed from the bridge several years ago following prolonged rainfall...

Had I been following the feeder stream when I took this picture three years ago, I'd have been about five feet underwater!
The work that had been underway seemed to have been focused on two objectives; the sculpting of the clarts in the stream bed into channels to better concentrate the limited water flow; and the bagging of loose soils on the upper banks of the feeder stream to prevent erosion damage later on when the summer rains arrive. It might be that this work will be followed by soil compaction measures and possibly the construction of new retainer walls.

A junction where the feeder stream is supplemented by a tributary. Note the culvert pipe.

The same tributary seen above with the same culvert pipe.

Looking further ahead upstream: note the bagged soils, and the freshly dug channel in the clarts to the left of the stream bed.

Another tributary.

And on and on the feeder stream goes.
Yet another tributary (to the left) joins the feeder stream.
Eventually, I arrived at another corrugated iron fence which had a gap at the side closest to the feeder stream. I passed through and discovered that I was now on a little public walking trail, complete with a "you-are-here" map...

The trail off to my left running alongside the fence.

The trail also ran straight ahead in parallel to the feeder stream.
I followed the trail for another ten minutes or so, until I arrived at a fork - the right hand trail followed a staircase uphill away from the feeder stream, whereas the left hand trail went straight ahead into the undergrowth in parallel to the stream but without any paving. Naturally I took this path which after a short distance began to climb upward delivering me out onto a small farmer's road which ran uphill to my left and around a bend to my right...

The little trail ended to the right of this image. The farmer's road ran around a bend to the left, but also forked out into another little downhill trail just before that bend. 

Looking uphill (northward) along the farmer's road. The noise of the freeway could be heard from off to the right.

The farmer's road had a little trail leading downhill from it, which I reasoned might lead back to the feeder stream. I followed it down into an abandoned banana farm which proved to be a cul-de-sac. So I walked back uphill to the farmer's road and decided that the best thing to do was to return the way I had come to retrieve the motorbike and then find the farmer's road and follow it on the bike, rather than waste more time walking for an uncertain distance.

Walking back alongside the feeder stream and its' adjacent tributaries.
I got back to the motorbike and drove off northward around the reservoir and up onto the main road from which I found the little farmer's road without difficulty. I followed it down past the bend I had reached previously, and found that it ran under the freeway where it met up once again with what seemed to be the feeder stream. The trouble was that thereafter the stream diverges well away from the road to run through the myriad little betel nut farms that populate the area between the freeway and the northwestern arm of the dam for Renyitan reservoir...

Having lost the stream, and feeling tired, hungry and thirsty I decided to take a break. I drove off around to the other side of Renyitan reservoir to where the vendors are permanently encamped to get something to eat and drink. However, once I'd had my half-hour switch off time and returned to the bike I found that the back tyre was flat. I had no idea where the puncture had occurred, but that didn't matter much anyway. Fortunately one of the vendor's caught notice of my predicament and offered to call a repair guy who was open on Sundays. He eventually arrived and sorted me out with a replacement inner tube (NT$400) and I was on my way again.

It was now late in the afternoon, and where earlier there had been only clouds, there was now a little bit of sunlight as dusk approached. I drove over to the access road leading down to the control tower and discovered something I hadn't previously known. The water which leaves Renyitan reservoir to enter the feeder stream for Lantan reservoir is controlled not by a hydraulic portcullis gate as I had previously supposed, but by a variation on the "monk" outlet shaft the upper portion of which was now visible as the water level had fallen so low...

The top of the "monk" outlet shaft by which water from Renyitan reservoir is transferred to Lantan reservoir via the feeder stream.
A long-since abandoned raft made up of plastic pipes and now rotted bits of wood lay partially submerged on the embankment.
Somewhat frustrated at having lost the feeder stream and ran out of time I decided it was time to call it a day. I drove back into Chiayi city and was fortunate enough to find a free and convenient parking space not far from the train station. I recently replaced the battery on the bike, so it shouldn't be a problem to leave it parked outside Tainan for a week or so at a time.

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