Yufu Bikeway: Geology and everyday life
The Yufu Bikeway connects Yuli Town and Fuli Township in the southern part of Hualien County, along the East Rift Valley. There is a lot of farming that happens here. The most obvious major crop is rice due to the plethora of paddies. These two destinations are connected by Provincial Highway 9, the main road that runs through this valley, as well as by a railway line.
Actually, the Yufu Bikeway follows what was once railway line, so it is quite straight. This nearly 10-kilometer bikeway is also very flat, rising from just 135 meters in elevation at the Yuli train station to 159 meters in elevation at the terminus, the Dongli Cyclist Rest Stop. So, it is suited to people of all ages and almost all fitness levels.
In some parts, it parallels the current rail line and in some parts Provincial Highway 9. As electrified trains began to come into operation in eastern Taiwan and run at relatively high speeds compared to local commuter trains, safety became an issue.
To explain this further, it is necessary to first digress. Many first-time visitors to Taiwan are surprised that much of the island is covered in towering mountains. These mountains continue to grow, due to the action of two tectonic plates, the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate, with the latter subducting beneath the former. Along this bikeway is an old railway bridge, which marks the boundary point of these two plates. Any slippage can cause an earthquake and this railway bridge to move or buckle, which could spell disaster for an oncoming train. Therefore, there was the need to move the railway line elsewhere.
The Yufu Bikeway begins in central Yuli Town, where there are bicycle rental shops available. Once away from town, there are vast rural landscapes. It is not long, around three kilometers or so, before you come to the old railway bridge. Stop here to take a photo of yourself with one foot on the Eurasian Plate side and the other foot on the Philippine Sea Plate side. Two large hearts have been set up here for couples to place padlocks, a symbol of their lasting love.
Then, continue on for more rural landscapes and observations of local farmers going about their daily lives. For example, an elderly woman was seen setting out mustard greens along the bikeway's railing. When asked how long the mustard greens needed to stay there, her reply was "until dry". A reasonable answer and a good reminder not to over think things.
At nearly six kilometers from the start, the old Antong platform and train station come into view. Signs indicate that this as a cyclist's rest stop, but it appears to be have been boarded up for some time.
Continue on to the old Dongli platform and train station, the terminus of this bikeway, which is an actual cyclist rest stop complete with restrooms. Coffee, postcards and other souvenirs are on sale here.
Along the old Dongli platform are some interesting artworks. An old bicycle has been painted yellow and left to stand, as if waiting for its owner to return and admire its new look. There is also an interesting artistic representation of a large fish trap. The indigenous Amis tribe, which also lives in this area, traditionally used tapered fish traps made from bamboo, which they would place in a river. Smaller, juvenile fish that swam in could maneuver their way out, but larger, adult fish could not. In this portrayal, there are freshwater fish swimming all around instead of inside it. Perhaps, they know it is a trap!