We took the late Friday night HSR train up to Banqiao and then the MRT to Xindian where we had a hotel room booked. As I hadn't visited Taipei for several months prior to this trip, the motorbike hadn't yet had its' necessary servicing, and so we took a taxi to the reservoir's front entrance with the intention of sorting out the motorbike upon our return to Xindian later in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, as forecast, the weather turned out to be dank and overcast with occassional drizzle (light rain) but it was also humid, not cold. At the entrance gate, we were told we could wait for a minivan to pick us up or we could walk the short distance along the bridge and across the approach road up to the Administration premises. We chose to stretch our legs and stroll along the bridge over the Nanxi river, since it wasn't yet raining. There were one or two other people walking on foot to join the tour, and several cars with visitors inside passed us by on the way.
Like my trip to Deiji reservoir high up in the mountains of Taichung county two years ago, this was one of my most long-anticipated trips. Unlike that glorious day up and over some of Taiwan's highest mountains however, this trip turned out to be something of a disappointment...
|Myself at the entrance road to the Taipei Feitsui Reservoir Administration. This was a long anticipated trip.|
Yet I already had thirteen questions written down in my notepad.
The tour began after a short toilet break, and the entire group of about sixty visitors were split among a number of tour guides who each led us in small groups, though we chose to flit between this and that group. We proceeded down the entrance road to the Administration premises and back out onto the approach road eastward to the dam itself. Each tour guide seemed to have a different knowledge specialty, though each of them spent a considerable time describing the various ferns and trees that lined the roadside as well as mention of various insects, reptiles and birds that could be found in the area. I found some of the claims to be questionable, such as the rather specific claim that Feitsui reservoir was home to exactly ninety seven eagles (when we asked when and how this number was obtained, we were told that it was the number given to them by an independent, Taipei based wild bird conservation society).
When the dam finally came into view, I tried two of my thirteen questions on the nearest tour guide. Both questions concerned the design of the spillway; the first was why it was built with radial, tainter gates rather than open overflow, and the second was why were there eight such apertures rather than any other even number such as four or even two or sixteen. His answer to both questions was simply that the dam engineers decided to do it that way, which was a non-answer and so I persisted by explaining the basis of my question, referring to the two shifts in the history of spillway design in Taiwan with the most recent of those being the shift away from the use of radial gates in favour of open overflow designs - a shift which had already occurred by the time Feitsui reservoir's dam would have been at the design stage in the late 1970s. However, not only was the guide unable to give satisfactory answers, but it was clear that he hadn't really understood either of the questions. I tried asking other guides but was met with similar non-answers.
Disappointed, I put my notebook away and just took pictures instead...
|On the northern spur looking out across the downstream face of the dam.|
|Close up on the river outlet porthole. This aperture is used exclusively for maintaining the water level necessary for sustaining the river's downstream ecology.|
|Gallery entrance on the south side of the dam. This is where engineers enter the dam to conduct inspections and install and update monitoring sensors.|
|Water gauge on the side of the intake tower for the hydroelectric plant on the downstream side of the dam.|
Last week I took an additional, unreported trip to the South Taiwan Water Resources Bureau office in Kaohsiung to meet a senior engineer and ask some questions. I may visit their other offices later this week, and one thing I may ask for is someone to contact at the Feitsui Administration who would be in a better position to answer my questions and perhaps even arrange for another tour when the weather is better...