In preparation for a lengthy post I have in the works, I decided to push my luck with the weather and make a loop through Douliu in Yunlin County.
I started out having to change my inner tube as the patch I had used last week was slowly leaking. I replaced the tube with another lying around... only to discover it was the leaky tube from Thursday (Lesson: get rid of leaky tubes). I changed the flat less than a kilometer from home and continued on my way.
With all the delays I decided to save time at the expense of a little fatigue by going straight up the Highway 74, which does a direct shot over Bagua Shan, in Changhua. My goal was to hook up with Route 137 on the other side and ride down to an area near Er Shui, which had been known as the village of Davale during the period of Dutch colonization and administration.
I found the area I needed to find and met some locals. After an enlightening discussion with several people, I headed out past one of the few recreational bikeways I really like. The Ershui Bikeway is actually a really nice trail that goes around the base of Xiang Shan to Mingjian. It follows the old railroad through some great farm country.
I still had some work to do on my bike-top ethnographical tour and so I headed toward Douliu 斗六.
In Douliu I cut through town and made my way down Taiping Street; a street of restored Japanese era buildings that has been turned into a shopping district with little boutiques and shops.
What I really enjoyed about this street is that it was a restoration and not a project where they replace the originals with a facsimile and then sell tourist goods.
Aside from the uniform signs outside the shops, the facades were painted and restored to give a glimpse of how Douliu may have looked during the 1920's and 1930's.
The most remarkable part is that these old buildings were allowed to continue to function as living retail space and not as tourist kitsch.
For more on the restoration of Japanese Era Taiwan, you can read an earlier post here.
As I left Douliu, I had to investigate another site under the bridge to Dounan. Nearby a work crew was busy harvesting potatoes.
It was soon time to turn into the wind for a long ride up the Highway 1 back home. Despite the effort, the going was slow. I had to just bear down and take the body blows from the headwind.
With my research done for the day, I crawled through the door a little worse for wear.
Still, I am looking forward to putting this post together. It should be pretty ok.