|The downstream area of Taipei's Feitsui reservoir (翡翠水庫).|
This time my main objective was to try and get a view of the upstream face of the dam from the mountains. I had never seen such a picture online and I had only the faintest cause for optimism in the form of a small mountain road which appeared to reach the summit of one of the peaks overlooking the dam to the north. My suspicion was that the road would either be blocked to the public, or that the density of trees and other foliage would block out all possibility of seeing the front of the reservoir and the dam itself from the mountains.
The drive out eastward along provincial highway nine was uneventful despite the princelings in their Lambos and Porsches running the bends at reckless speeds. I reached my turn off point and passed by as it was still too early (pitch black), the road wouldn't have any lighting and I'd likely alarm the people who live there by driving through so early. Instead I drove on up to the ridge overlooking Erge park where I found an old man taking pictures of the pre-dawn light out east using the Taiwanese "black card technique", whereby the camera is set to a very low shutter speed and the upper two thirds of the lens is intermittently obscured by the waving of a black card in order to reduce the light exposure; this technique, when correctly applied (it is tricky), allows the photographer to capture enough light to illuminate a darkened landscape without overexposing the sunrise. I haven't yet had the patience yet for it, but I gave it a go. The results indicated I needed more practice.
|A panorama view over the front of Feitsui reservoir at just after 6 a.m. with the rising sun in the east.|
|Another panorama view after the sun had risen somewhat higher.|
I stayed for more than an hour taking photos as the sun rose and the clouds rolled further west altering the light. But eventually I left out of thirst - I had no water or coffee and the motorbike needed filling up with petrol. I returned just before 9 a.m. hoping for an improvement in the light, and on the way back up the mountain road, I paused just before the ridge summit to ponder the view north toward Taipei city - it had now deteriorated with haze, but I took some photos regardless...
|A hazy view overlooking what I think is either the western outskirts of Taipei city, or a district of Xinbei (my geographical knowledge of Taipei city is very poor so I can't be sure).|
|Another panorama shot taken after 9 a.m. as the morning grew longer.|
|A close-up on what could be seen of the center of the dam; the walkway along the top is surprisingly wide, easily enough for two cars to pass by one another in opposite directions.|
|On the far south side of the dam, there is a series of staircases leading a short distance up the mountainside, presumably to allow the engineers access to the mountainside for detecting and measuring movements following tremors and earthquakes.|
|The debris line rests on the water's surface just a short way upstream from the dam, and slightly downstream from what is probably the reservoir's last tributary.|
It seems that I made this trip just in time because the coming week is forecast for rain all over the island even lasting into the coming weekend. With that in mind it's likely I'll take a break from reservoir trips next weekend and do other things instead, though I do need to prepare for future return trips to Feitsui reservoir, hopefully including at least one trip to the area downstream from the dam for which a permit is required, but also one or two late afternoon trip to several areas in the northern mountains along the length of the reservoir. After that, the Keelung reservoirs beckon...
*Basically, I didn't want to go out of my way looking for a motel that might be fully booked and in any case spending money unnecessarily. However, for some strange reason the convenience stores in Xindian have sitting rooms and yet do not permit customers to use them; they were not under repair or anything, they were just empty. Eventually I found a 7-11 with some stools and a desk by the window; it was uncomfortable, but a price worth paying for the pre-dawn start.