Sunday, 27 March 2016

Cancelled Trip

Well this is weird. I cancelled today's trip to Nantou when my train pulled into Chiayi. There was a number of little things which were going wrong and the combination had me spooked.

In every reservoir trip I take, but particularly the ones that involve taking a train, I am always, always, without exception, slightly nervous. It's the thought of leaving my dogs at home that gets me - what if I have an accident and get taken to hospital? Etc. I usually shrug it off after a short time, but it hangs around a bit longer when I know I'm going to try to do something difficult and dangerous. This time I got spooked enough to just stop, turn around and come straight back to Tainan.

First, was the very odd weather. Because I was expecting sunshine and warm weather, I didn't take my gloves. I drove to the train station in morning sunshine, thinking everything was fine. Later on the train as I looked out the window, I realized that the weather had clouded over and it was going to be a cold, grey, overcast day and any chance of more sunshine was going to be an unlikely one. And I didn't have my gloves, which meant that the long drive from Ershui to Wan-Da (and then back again later) was going to be very uncomfortable. Later in the afternoon, at least here in Tainan, the weather became glorious again.

The second thing that went wrong was very unusual. I've taken this particular morning train dozens of times, sometimes buying my tickets the day before, but usually buying them just before I walk to the platform, and each time my ticket is for either car five or car four and it's usually a window seat. This time however, I was given a ticket for car one - way at the back of the train. The entire car was empty except for this one south-east asian fella sitting on his own at the back singing. My seat number was thirty six, an aisle seat and guess where it was? Right next to the grinning mumbler who was sitting in window seat thirty four. The rest of the car was totally empty*. Of course I sat elsewhere (the aisle seat thirty two in front of the grinning mumbo jumbo), but that led to my third little problem...

Usually, when I take the train up to Ershui I like to stare out the window and if there's nobody around I'll lean my chair back and I won't sleep, but I will "power down", so to speak, with my eyes half open. This time I couldn't. Mumbo-jumbo behind me kept making odd noises, interspersed with words in his own language (not Mandarin). The odd time I looked at him (e.g. when putting my luggage up on the shelf) he grinned at me - not smiled: grinned. It was difficult to relax with this weirdo behind me.

There were a number of other very small preparation things that were niggling me concerning the packaging of one particular bit of equipment and whether I was bringing the right kit bag (I use two different ones, but am beginning to think I should get a third to replace one of them for certain types of trip).

I was also feeling tired due to not having had enough sleep the night before, and for the particular shot I was after I really didn't want to be trying to take it on yet another grey, overcast afternoon. I really want sunshine (and preferably morning sunshine) for this shot, and the seven day weather forecast was predicting glorious sunshine and no clouds whatsoever for next weekend. So everything about this trip just seemed to be wrong, and that it would be better to delay until next weekend. At Xinying I was already thinking about cancelling and coming straight back, but I kept turning the decision over in my mind until we got to Chiayi and by that point I'd convinced myself. I grabbed my things, got off the train and bought a ticket for the next local train back to Tainan.

So instead of a reservoir trip, I walked and played with my dogs more and took a long nap at home instead. As the weather became beautiful later on in the afternoon I regretted not going through with it, but not too much.

*This has got me wondering about what seat allocation algorithm TRA are using.

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