On Saturday, I finally got back up to Taichung. The black motorbike had been left there for the past two months and I'd been expecting the worst: fallen over, flat tyres, flat battery etc... but actually it was fine. Started first time and just needed some grease on the chain and an oil change. I had only intended to use the trip for repairs, but finding that none were needed, I drove around for an hour or so out to Longjing near Taichung port to have a quick look at the power plant, and then back to the HSR station for a quick train back to Tainan.
This morning, I took the two girls out to Baihe reservoir for their first time. The weather wasn't particularly good (overcast with occasional showers), though it was mercifully cool for most of the time. We walked down the central peninsula at the east end of the reservoir and took the boat through the central channel from east to west. Just as I was about to get everything ready, I found something amazing (for me at least)... a mantis had attached itself to my kit bag. In ten years of living in Taiwan with much of it spent out and about in the hills and mountains, this was nevertheless the first time in my life I had seen one of these things in the wild. I was absolutely transfixed...
|These pictures were taken on my new phone, and in this one the creature's pseudopupil eyes and mandibles are very clear.|
|I wonder if he would have bitten me if I'd put my finger close enough to his mandibles?|
Despite the weather, it was an enjoyable little trip and I gathered two bits of new data: first, this was the highest I'd seen the water level at Baihe reservoir, and this was made apparent by the less than two meter gap between the water surface and the old, rotten suspension bridge (which is usually a good four or five meters above the surface), and second, the reeds polluting the front end of the reservoir are now far more extensive than they were a couple of years ago such that it is no longer possible to navigate around the corner from north-west to south-east. It's just not possible. It was two or three years ago.
|The rotten old suspension bridge with missing planks; the gap between it and the water surface was less than two meters; if I could walk on water, my head would probably touch the beams.|