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Although I had previously cycled parts of this valley during my full tour of the island in I did so without really knowing what was there—and after five years I amassed quite a collection of notes about places I was interested in seeing up close. Several themes emerged while preparing for this trip: old standalone movie theaters , of which I had located more than a dozen; derelict railway infrastructure including stations, military checkpoints, and abandoned lines; and relics of the Japanese colonial era , particularly former Shinto shrines.
This post documents my first day of riding, which only began in the late afternoon after arriving by rail at Hualien Station. I had shipped my bike ahead so all I had to do was pick it up from the baggage room, throw the panniers on, and start riding.
The twin dragon columns flanking the entrance contain spiral staircases leading to the third floor. This temple claims to have a years-old history based on the age of some of the idols contained in the main hall a common conceit in Taiwanese temples but the current structure was built sometime after after the devastating East Rift Valley earthquakes of Little remains of this quarry apart from a sand and gravel loading dock 3.
There is an informational plaque out front with an unusually comprehensible English translation:. Sitting in a vast forest where birds and insects sing is a large, unsophisticated building. The six arches, which have become mottled with time, are now a signature sight along Zuocang Trail and a dwelling for plants and animals.
In the evening, a group of bats line the ceiling of the arches; at dawn, a variety of birds fly around the arches. The storied past of this old sand mine has donned a green outfit. Nature and history have met to create a magical place. I came down from the mountains after departing the old sand mine, following country roads curving around two airbases in this part of Hualien.