Taipei’s wa­ter­ways — a scenic plea­sure

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Taipei is a city of rivers. Walk around the Dadaocheng (

), Yuan­shan ( ), Dazhi ( ) and Neihu ( ) ar­eas and you’ll en­joy plenty of river views. Trav­el­ers who ride a bi­cy­cle will know about the city’s com­pre­hen­sive, in­ter­linked sys­tem of river­side bike­ways, with a to­tal length of 112 kilo­me­ters along the Tam­sui ( ), Keelung ( ), Xin­dian ), and Jing­mei rivers (

(

). Dis­cover Taipei, a bi­monthly pub­lished by the Taipei City Gov­ern­ment, in­tro­duces to read­ers the city’s four river in its March/ April edi­tion. The fol­low­ing is the ar­ti­cle:

The His­tory of Tam­sui River In for­mer times, the Tam­sui River played a key role in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and goods trans­porta­tion, and was at the cen­ter of the city’s rise.

In the 18th cen­tury sol­diers were sent by the Qing dy­nasty (

) gov­ern­ment to gar­ri­son Tai­wan, and in the Taipei area the Tam­sui River sys­tem was the pri­mary chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the out­side world. The main trade and trans­port node in the area was along the Xinzhuang ( )shore. Silt­ing be­came a se­ri­ous prob­lem af­ter 1767, and com­merce be­gan a slow shift down­river to Bangka ( ), to­day called Wan­hua ( )in Man­darin Chi­nese. How­ever, it too be­gan to suf­fer from se­ri­ous silt­ing, re­strict­ing and fi­nally halt­ing rivercraft ac­cess.

Bangka’s slow decline marked Dadaocheng’s rise as the Taipei re­gion’s main goods and ma­te­ri­als en­tre­pot. Many for­eign traders and wealthy Chi­nese mer­chants moved in to set up op­er­a­tions, and Dadaocheng flour­ished as a dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter for re­gional spe­cialty goods, tea, and fab­rics.

Dur­ing this era, most land along the river­banks in to­day’s Taipei was farmed. In ad­di­tion to the ma­jor cen­ters of pop­u­la­tion and com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity — the old walled city, Bangka, and Dadaocheng — a num­ber of smaller trad­ing hubs for agri­cul­tural and house­hold items took shape, no­tably the towns of Shilin St. ( ), Da­long­dong St. ( ), and Xikou St. ( ).

The end of the 19th cen­tury saw the fad­ing away of river trans­port as a re­sult of silt­ing, and the emer­gence of rail­way trans­port. Their role as wa­ter-traf­fic nodes gone, the river port towns went into decline.

The Four Rivers — Scenery,

Boat Tours, Cy­cle Paths

Ac­cord­ing to Chen Shi-hao, direc­tor of the Hy­draulic En­gi­neer­ing Of­fice, Public Works Depart­ment, Taipei City Gov­ern­ment, the main func­tion of the Tam­sui and other city rivers is now leisure and recre­ation.

River­side parks and na­ture re­serves line the river­sides, and what is lo­cally called the Blue High­way has been re­opened, with Blue High­way yacht cruises of­fer­ing res­i­dents and vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy the river­side scenery and nat­u­ral ecol­ogy from the wa­ter.

The of­fice has es­tab­lished an in­ter­linked sys­tem of river­side bike­ways to­tal­ing 112 kilo­me­ters in length, pre­sent­ing grand views from Jing­mei in the south and Neihu in the east and ex­tend­ing down­stream to the wet­lands of Guandu ( ) in the north.

A Sprawl­ing Can­vas of His­toric Sites and Nat­u­ral Land­scapes

The main boat-traf­fic points on the Tam­sui River Blue High­way were Dadaocheng Wharf and Guandu Wharf, and there was heavy traf­fic be­tween the river­mouth port towns of Tam­sui and Bali ( ).

Dadaocheng was the last place to flour­ish in the days of river trans­port, so start your tour on foot here, where many pre­cious cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal relics have been pre­served. A good ex­am­ple is the Zhuangx­iefa Cul­tural His­tory Pav­il­ion ( ), an of­fi­cial city her­itage site, which stands at the junc­tion of Guide Street and Xin­ing North Road, where the docks used to be be­fore silt­ing al­tered the shore­line.

Built in the late 1920s, this was orig­i­nally a com­mon fam­ily-run gro­cery store; af­ter ren­o­va­tion it was opened to the public as a cul­tural-his­tory pav­il­ion. Also on Xin­ing North Road is an­other build­ing con­structed in the 1920s, the for­mer res­i­dence of Li Lin-qiu ( ).

Li, a lyri­cist, wrote the words for many popular Tai­wan tunes, in­clud­ing the 1930s hits “Crav­ing for the Spring Breeze” ( ) and “Four Sea­sons of Red” (

). There are many com­mem­o­ra­tive items on dis­play at both lo­ca­tions ( ad­vance reg­is­tra­tion re­quired).

The head of the Cul­tural Her­itage Di­vi­sion of the city’s Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs, Lin Chang-chieh, says that the build­ing of port fa­cil­i­ties at Dadaocheng made it a “world trade cen­ter.”

The area’s Guide Street was also the first in Taipei to fea­ture West­ern- style build­ings. The Zhuangx­iefa site brims with the scent of this by­gone era, an eye­wit­ness to its hey­day and its decline, serv­ing as a view­ing plat­form into his­tory.

Ev­ery Satur­day,

Taipei Walk- ing Tour of­fers a fixed time/lo­ca­tion tour in Chi­nese, English, and Ja­panese: an in­valu­able way for for­eign trav­el­ers to ex­plore Dadaocheng’s old streets.

Af­ter gorg­ing your­self on the area’s his­toric spots, walk to the river and Dadaocheng Wharf via its wa­ter gate. The rich, panoramic land­scape here in­cludes a scale mock-up of a Tang dy­nasty (

) junk, a wharf arch bridge, and Yanping River­side Park.

Board a craft ply­ing the Blue High­way Tam­sui-Xinyi Line and head to Guandu Na­ture Park, then on to Tam­sui to browse Tam­sui Old Street, try­ing its well-known tra­di­tional snack treats.

Head back to the city cen­ter on the Taipei Metro. On this Blue High­way out­ing you can also choose to dis­em­bark at Guandu, rent a bike, and ex­plore the nat­u­ral de­lights of the Guandu Na­ture Park, an im­por­tant wildlife habi­tat.

The park’s ecol­ogy has three foci, wa­ter­fowl, wet­lands, and in­sects, and trained pro­fes­sion­als are avail­able to take guided tours fol­low­ing th­ese themes.

An­other fun tour­ing op­tion is to soak up the ap­peal­ing river­side scenery on a long, leisurely bike ride. You can start off on the Guandu Bike­way. Head out from Guandu Tem­ple, pass by Guandu Na­ture Park, fol­low the Guizikeng Stream, and head back once you come to the hik­ing trail en­trance.

Along the way there are fine views of Mt. Guanyin ( ), a large swath of man­grove for­est, flocks of wa­ter­fowl in flight, and other mag­nif­i­cent nat­u­ral sights.

The Re­splen­dent Keelung River Nightscape — Deep­en­ing

Night, Deep­en­ing Beauty

Many night­time scenic at­trac­tions are to be found along the banks of the Keelung River — among them the lights of the Grand Ho­tel and Mi­ra­mar Fer­ris Wheel and the mul­ti­color light­ing of the Rain­bow Bridge. This is a fa­vorite area with many who en­joy cy­cling at night.

Bike­ways fol­low both the

left and right banks, en­abling a leisurely look at all the many dif­fer­ent night at­trac­tions for cy­cle en­thu­si­asts, ac­com­pa­nied by a gen­tle night breeze.

A day­time Blue High­way tour of­fers an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence; em­bark at the Da­jia Wharf ( ) in Da­jia River­side Park and the boat passes un­der Dazhi Bridge, along the Dazhi wa­ter­front to the Taipei Neihu Tech­nol­ogy Park and then back again.

The star here is the beauty of the Taipei cityscape — along the way you’ll en­joy close-up views of air­craft land­ing and tak­ing off at Taipei Song­shan Air­port, the Grand Ho­tel, and the Mi­ra­mar Fer­ris Wheel, as well as the soar­ing Taipei 101 tower in the dis­tance.

The Xin­dian and Jing­mei Rivers — Bike Rides Through

Land­scaped Green Spa­ces

The Xin­dian River and Jing­mei River river­sides are key ur­bancore green spa­ces.

Join the river­side bike­way at Fuhe Bridge, along the right bank of the Xin­dian River, and the scenery slowly changes from cityscape to ex­pan­sive green spa­ces.

You’ll pass by Trea­sure Hill Artist Vil­lage ( ), through Gut­ing River­side Park and by Taipei City Hakka Cul­tural Park. Time and again you’ll be in­spired to stop off and en­joy won­der­ful scenes, such as flocks of birds.

There are bike­ways along both banks of the Jing­mei River, in­ter­linked via Dao­nan Bridge and Yishou Bridge. The con­trast of the red flow­ers and green grass at Jing­mei Bridge, seen along the route, cre­ates an es­pe­cially strik­ing scene.

Though the days are long gone where the Tam­sui River teemed with mer­chant craft head­ing to and from busy mar­ket­places, sails bil­low­ing in the wind, out­ings on the river by yacht, or along the river by bike, bring the same re­fresh­ing spring breezes, matched with the novel vis­tas and ex­pe­ri­ences of a new day.

AFP

(Above) Lo­cal fer­ries dock at Bali har­bor along the Tam­sui River in the file photo taken on Jan. 13.

(Left) This file photo taken on Feb. 23, 2010 shows the Kuan­tou bridge that con­nects Kuan­tou and Bali.

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