22-Feb-2010 -- 24N – 121E Puli, Taiwan
Line Hunting Date: February 22, 2010
An unexpected hunt with an unexpected find – The Geographic Center of Taiwan
We had a week off for the Spring Festival in China, and picked Taiwan as our escape from the cold in Beijing. This was facilitated by the recently established direct flight between Taipei and Beijing. Given this was the first trip to Taiwan for Florence, the objective was to take it easy and see a little bit of everything. Line hunting was not in the picture, at least in theory.
There are only two land-based Confluence point in Taiwan and Ray attempted 23N-121E with Sierra 5 years ago but was 7 km short from the goal. There was some thought on Ray’s part to close this unfinished business, but not worth to propose to Florence knowing it would require a hard and possibly overnight track in the jungle. This particular point - 24N-121E - which has been visited by others actually was not on Ray’s radar screen at all.
After 3 fun days in Taipei, we signed up for a 4 days trip with an agency which provided car with a guide to visit the major tourist spots along the western side of Taiwan. The agency paired us with another couple from California. The program for the first day was visiting the Sun Moon lake, with a short stop on the way to visit an old winery in a small old town called Puli (埔里)in central Taiwan, near the foothill of the Central mountain range.
About 20 km before reaching Puli, Ray noticed on the tourist map that this town is right next to this Confluence point – estimated to be less than 5 km. It was too close not to take a shot – suddenly the line hunting fever recurred!
After some fast talking to explain to the guild and other couple about the great virtue of visiting a Confluence Point, it was agreed upon that we would forgo the winery visit to go for this point instead. Florence had the foresight in stipulating that one hour as the limit for this impromptu hunt since she knew full well that confluence point hunting usually last far longer than what promised.
When we reached the highway turn off for Puli, the GPS indicated the good news – the Confluence Point was only 1.7 km away. But, the bed news was the fact that we were in a hilly region, it was evident that this point located on the other side of a substantial range.
We started searching for a road which can lead us to the other side of the mountain. After several trials and errors we were able to find a valley leading toward the right direction. Unfortunately, the local farmers did not think the road will go far enough. By then, the one-hour limit was up. Time to give up the hunt. Turning back was very painful for Ray – an unfulfilled quest.
At the place where we abandoned the hunt, we has an interesting visit with 3 ladies who were harvesting betel nuts which is a major local product (photo 9).
When we returned to Puli, our guide who was still not very clear about the purpose of hunting for the Confluence point asked maybe it is the “geographic center” we were looking for, and he knew where to find it. What geographic center? Yes, please take us there!
After 5 minutes of driving, we came to a park with a large stone monument at entrance which stated “Geographic Center of Taiwan” ! There were two geo markers on the ground about 5 meters from the monuments. From the geo center markers, we were 3.5 km from the Confluence point.
What was interesting with this little park containing the geographic center was the fact that everything was in double. Other than two geo makers, there were also two monuments – one a stone tablet (photo 1), another one is a small tower on a large platform, which was the location defined earlier in the 1906 survey (photo 8). There were also two sets of information booth detailing the markers.
The surprise find of the Taiwan Geographic Center made up for the disappointment not able to reach the Confluence point. Given this was a group tour, it was as good an outcome as one can hope for. Onward to the Sun Moon Lake.
Rating of this Hunt:
Degree of Challenge:
2– Not a straight forward hunt to find the right path (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
3– hilly region of Central Taiwan (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
3 - Puli is a small old town very lay back and pleasant (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)