Monday, 6 April 2015

The Second Of Two Chiayi Trips

Following on from the previous weekend's trip to Chiayi, I returned to Chiayi on the subsequent Friday (April 3rd) via the train and picked up the motorbike to try to finish my work in tracing the feeder stream for Lantan reservoir. On the train up from Tainan city, I got talking to a couple of Mormon girls who were over here from Utah on missionary work for 18 months; neither of them had smartphones and when I later sent one of them the link to my blog, she told me that they were forbidden to have internet access during their 18 month mission in Taiwan (except for family communication), which is something I didn't previously know about the Mormons. Unlike other foreigners in Taiwan, I hold neither fear, annoyance or hatred toward the various Christian sects that come here - not because I sympathize with any of their theologies (I'm an atheist), but just because they are basically peaceful in their methods and in their attitude and demeanor - at least compared to the puritanical control freaks that I find almost everywhere.

When I arrived in Chiayi, the black motorbike started up again without hitch (due to the new battery), but the tyre pressure had fallen. I took it to a mechanic and had the tyres pumped up and the oil changed (note to self: at 18,500 km). I paused briefly on the uphill road that passes by Lantan reservoir to the north to take some shots as the weather was glorious...

Overlooking Lantan reservoir from the north; as the weather was spectacularly good, the mountains were visible in the distance; the first of which is "Pillow Mountain" which overlooks Baihe reservoir in the north of Tainan.
I followed the main road straight ahead to take the farmer's road I had come across previously down toward the freeway and the stream. I presume that this is the feeder stream for Lantan reservoir largely because it seems to be in approximately the right location, it has concrete walls and contains baffling blocks to check the speed of the water's flow. It is however, hideously encumbered by the overgrowth of the local bush to the point at which it is barely visible...

The possibility of following the stream in a north-westerly direction toward Lantan reservoir was made difficult by the presence of abandoned or semi-abandoned (and hence especially dense) banana plantations. Instead I followed the stream in the opposite direction toward its' presumed source (Renyitan reservoir) and along the way I noticed something odd - a crayfish suspended from an electricity cable by some kind of thread. At first I thought spider web, but looking at it again the threads seem to be too thick to be those of the common golden orb weaver, and they are also oddly arranged - as if by repeated loops over and over the cable from which they hang. It looks like human rather than animal work, though quite why anyone would want to catch and hang up a single crayfish to dry in the sun is not obviously clear...

I once again lost track of the stream among the betel nut farms (and private land) and arrived at Renyitan reservoir without finding what I was looking for. Since the weather was so much better and brighter than it had been on my previous trip, I decided I would take more pictures. I started with pictures overlooking the northern tip of the reservoir from a hill to the west...

The higher apartments in the building in the background must give excellent views out over the reservoir; indeed a Taiwanese woman I know offered to sell one of them to me (they are not particularly expensive either, considering prices elsewhere).
I briefly wandered a short distance down a steep farmer's path on the northern side of the reservoir which eventually opened up to this view south over the depleted reservoir...

The little spits of land on either side are not sediment build up, but are actually part of the reservoir bed's natural contours.
From there I drove back down to the reservoir itself for more photography...

Overlooking Renyitan reservoir from the west end with the monitoring station just below. The mountains in the distance mark the beginning of Chiayi County's Alishan district. 

From the west end looking northwards up to Renyitan's westernmost corner following the curve of the dam.

Standing on the main section of the dam at its' western end gazing eastward; after Agongdian reservoir in Kaohsiung, this is the longest dam in Taiwan.

The mountains to the east can only be seen on a clear day. 

From the south-west corner looking northward toward the apartment buildings that overlook the reservoir. 
After a short while I left the impressive views over Renyitan reservoir behind and resumed my search for the feeder stream among the betel nut farms. Without physically getting into the stream itself, it is difficult to follow it directly. However I did find a recently reconstructed road and culvert in approximately the right location for it to be a "semi-plausible" candidate for the feeder stream; somewhat south and only a relatively short distance west of the control tower for the "monk" shaft. On a two dimensional map the location is approximately correct, but nonetheless this is not what I was looking for...

The water runs off from a natural rill in the hillside into this concrete culvert...

There is also a step to allow excess flood water to overflow onto and over the newly constructed road.
The water rill in the hillside which feeds the culvert, with the flood opening in front of it.

Looking up at the culvert from the loosely packed soil on the hillside below.
I wasn't about to start tramping all over somebody else's farm looking for something for which I have no culturally-plausible excuse to be looking for, so I left. A Taiwanese friend wanted to meet me, and with the weather being so good, I decided to take repeat shots of important features I had photographed on previous occasions. I began with the source water sedimentation tank, which filters sediments out of the water delivered to the reservoir by the Bazhang river...

The water in the sedimentation tank was now static, as the level was insufficient to provide flow over the broad-crest.
I then went on around the corner to look again at the river intake structure which is ultimately responsible for the water content of both Renyitan and Lantan reservoirs...

The people from the Water Bureau had carved two channels into the river bed to ensure maximum water flow toward the entrapment pen during the dry season.

Looking eastward upstream toward the Bazhang's source in the mountains of Alishan district.
Further downstream can still be seen the remains of the previous water intake point constructed by the Japanese to source water for Lantan reservoir...

Note the square-shaped "door" cut into the cliff to the center-left of the image, with rubble piled up beneath it.
I then headed back to Renyitan reservoir to take some shots from the east end. On this side the water level has fallen so low as to expose the reservoir's bed to the sun. Channels appear to have been dug through the reservoir's bed to transport water over to the western side...

Like most of Taiwan's reservoirs, Renyitan is shallow: the depth here is about ten meters or so. 

The small stepped-dam on the east side which separates the reservoir from its' feeder stream entry point further to the east. It was presumably built as a means to check excessive flow rates from the feeder stream into the reservoir in times of flood.
Once I left Renyitan reservoir, I stopped briefly to take more shots of Lantan reservoir, including this one from the little one-lane vehicle bridge atop the spillway aperture...

I've always loved this view across the downstream face of the Lantan reservoir dam with the mountains in the distance.

Looking over the little reservoir in a north-easterly direction from the south-west.

Looking directly eastward across the upstream face of the dam; there is a height of about two meters before the first grassline appears on the dam, which will be the usual high-water mark.

Looking directly northward over Lantan reservoir from the south end.

Probably my favourite view of Lantan reservoir; looking eastward from the water intake towers toward the spillway aperture with the little bridge running across it.
Having finished taking pictures at Lantan reservoir, I then drove off into Chiayi city to meet someone and get something to eat before heading off to the train station. On my next trip up to Chiayi, the plan is to either have one more look for tunnel mouth or pipeline exit point to the feeder stream and/or drive the bike further north up to Douliou city in Yunlin County. Eventually, I hope to have the bike parked somewhere convenient up in Taipei later this summer.

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