We went to Donghu to eat breakfast and explore the area, and we ended up hiking on a new trail This one runs along the Nanhuzuo’an River, which is a tributary of the Keeling River. Not only was it an interesting hike, but we learned a lot about the Neihu area. Fresh air, exercise, history, and exploration is an unbeatable combination!
There are many, many different places to get breakfast in Taipei. We have already tried all of the places near our apartment in Neihu, so Jeff wanted to try some of the places in Donghu, This breakfast place was okay, but so far, I still think all of the best breakfast places are near us in Neihu.
We walked by an elementary school. It always seems like there are a lot of children in our neighborhood. Maybe there are a lot of families with children living in this part of Taipei, as Jeff has been told that parents here consider Neihu to have some of the best schools in Taipei. This is another reason why it is expensive to buy, and even rent, in this area.
Taipei now has bikes, called Ubikes, that you can rent at many of the subway stations and along busy streets. Jeff even has a Ubike kiosk in front of the building where he works. I had been meaning to register so that I could rent a Ubike. So when we walked past this kiosk in Donghu, I registered at Ubike. I can now rent Ubikes in Taipei. I have not done this yet, because it is summer, and very hot here. It helps to walk around with an umbrella (sun parasol) for shade. And there is no way that I could ride a bike and hold an umbrella at the same time!
The beginning of this trail alongside of the river was not very attractive. It had a nicely paved walkway, but the river itself was almost dry, and there were no trees alongside of it.
Neihu has an interesting relationship with its many rivers, mountains, and lakes. In the past, it was a very flood-prone region. On July 1, 1968, Neihu Township of Taipei County was placed under the jurisdiction of Taipei City and became Neihu District of Taipei City. Construction was prohibited in the entire district until 1974. In February 1976, the city government announced a development plan for the Dahu Park area. Neihu has experienced huge growth ever since then, with the construction of the Neihu Technology Park.
The extension of the Taipei MRT (subway) to Neihu in the 1990s and early 2000s also boosted its residential and commercial growth. But they were still figuring out how to do flood control on this area’s many rivers during that period. Hopefully, all of the rivers are now “well-managed.” In fact, they were dredging this river channel as we were walking along the path.
At this point, the river path was not very inviting. It was hot (no trees for shade) loud (because of the dredging) and there was no sign of birds or any other wildlife. But then, it got more interesting.
The next section of the path had plaques on the wall explaining some of the history of the area. The explanations were all in Chinese characters (no English) so Jeff interpreted them for me. This area near Taipei was settled way back in the 1600s because of all of the bamboo growing in the mountains. Bamboo is a very versatile plant that can be eaten, woven into hats and baskets, made into furniture, etc., so a bamboo industry developed here.
Next, they discovered all of the coal in the mountains, so the Neihu area became a mining center. I already knew that, due to the signs along the mining trail that we hike in the mountains. But I did not know that was the reason for all of the Tudigong shrines in this area.
Tudigong is worshipped as the spirit or god of the earth. When you are mining, you are taking something out of the earth. So your entire livelihood depends on the earth. So you would want the earth spirit or god to be generous with you, and keep you safe while you work. Because this area had so much mining in the past, it has the highest concentration of Tudigong shrines anywhere in Taiwan. Whereas Matsu or Confucius might be more important in other areas of Taiwan, Tudigong was the most important god here because of the mining industry. The Neihu area also had a lot of farming in earlier times.
After the history lessons, the wall art switched over to tiles with the many different local species of birds painted on them.
There were also birds depicted on the cement walls, as a painted upraised sculpture in the cement.
I even saw a few real birds at this point in our hike. I think that this guy is the same as the bird sculpted on the cement wall!
Further up the river path, we began to see more trees and greenery
Then there were flowers in a nice garden alongside of the path.
And statues, too!
There was even a teddy bear carefully tied to a perch up in a tree. I am sure there is an interesting story there.
All along this river, there were high walls made of cement or stone. The small stream inside the walls was very tiny, so the walls were likely for flood control, and the parks alongside were added afterwards.
Then, the scenery along the banks of the river path changed again. Now there were small farm plots alongside of the path, growing many different types of vegetables.
This small farm plot was growing laundry along with its vegetables!
This last photo was taken earlier in the week, when we had dinner with Jeff’s cousins Cary and Julie from Tamsui. We ran into them when we went out for dinner to the food court at Miramar in Neihu. A totally unplanned encounter, and a wonderful dinner !