As ever the drive around Taichung city is horrendous, and the 中99 is a battered old industrial / agricultural road with poor signing and sharp hairpin bends for miles. It's a nightmare. Once I was out of that and onto highway eight, everything seemed so much more tolerable - even the tourist buses. I drove straight up past the Ma'an barrage where I had stopped previously, and kept going all the way to Guguan district which is a famous hot springs resort stacked with large hotels, numerous big-round-table restaurants, 7-11s, post offices and the like. Naturally I drove straight through all this right the way up to the police check point whereupon I discovered something I hadn't previously known...
The central cross-island highway is not in fact, indefinitely closed to the public. Once the staff had asked me where it was I wanted to go to (I told them the truth: that I wanted to photograph the enormous Guguan dam), they told me I would be allowed to pass if only I came in a car: the route is forbidden to motorcycles and scooters. I would have to sign a waiver form for insurance purposes as the route is still very dangerous for obvious reasons, but so long as I return in a car (or more likely in my case, a van), I'd be fine. Now to me, that is a more significant bit of news than endless streams of headlines in the newspapers.
On the way back down, I stopped to take in the dam I had hoped to see in liu of the massive Guguan dam itself: the Tienlun dam (天輪壩)...
|Overlooking the dam from the east gazing westward; the dam is the third in a series of hydroelectric dams and barrages downstream from Deiji reservoir after the Qingshan and Guguan dams.|
|Water leaving a tunnel after most likely passing through a hydroelectric generator in the mountainside somewhere.|
|Water-intake structure for another tunnel leading downstream to the Tianlun hydroelectric plant just upstream from the Ma'an barrage.|
|A bridge crosses over between the water intake gates and a series of buildings adjacent to the main dam itself.|
|Another view of the water intake gates; four to release water into a penstock, and a larger, central gate behind that to release water into the tunnel.|
|The bridge crossing over to the management buildings.|
|A slightly hazy long-range shot of the five hydraulic spillway gates on the dam itself; only a small amount of water is allowed to pass through into the riverbed downstream (presumably via a fish ladder or some other sluiceway).|
|Looking back upstream and down onto the exit for the first tunnel connecting the river behind Guguan dam with that section of the river immediately behind Tianlun dam.|
|This was as close as I could get to a view of the downstream face of the Tianlun dam; a shot overlooking the crest whilst perched on the wall of the highway far above.|