Tuesday, December 19, 2006

shi-gang dam

Visit to DongShi

I spent the weekend with Jasmine, who works at my school & is a Jehovah's Witness. She live in DongShi, which is about 20-30 minutes past Fong Yuan in the opposite direction from Taichung. I thought it would be a peaceful weekend in the country... it turns out that in Taiwan, DongShi is considered a small town but actually there are about 50,000 people. There were roosters crowing, dogs barking, and parrots squacking all night, so I was a little nostalgic for the traffic sounds of Taichung. But overall it was really nice.
DongShi was the area hardest hit by the earthquake in 1999 (biggest on in recent history). Then a couple of years later there was a big typhoon, and a lot of the soil on the mountains was loosened by the earthquake, and it washed down the mountains and plugged up the river. Here is a picture of a big nice house- it used to overlook the river but now it is filled with rocks. All these enormous rocks washed downstream and filled the house and wound up moving it somewhat. Some are as big as a dumptruck. Now the riverbed is much wider, as you can see.
Also you can see the dam that controls the water for Fong Yuan. They rebuilt it after the earthquake but left part of the destroyed part as kind of a memorial. Overall it was not that impressive, basically what you would expect a dam to look like after an earthquake, but it's a major tourist destination. It's not that my pictures don't do justice to it, there just isn't much there. But it is interesting to see.
I'm told that before the earthquake the area around DongShi (going up into the mountains) was very prosperous. They grew different fruits and they were well-known around the island, and everyone was a rich farmer, and very few people had any interest in religion. The earthquake killed about 500 people in Dong Shi alone, which would make people think, but then Taiwan had to open up its trade in exchange for getting international aid to rebuild after the earthquake and flood, so the prices for food dropped dramatically. Now everyone is a lot poorer and a lot more open to listening to information about the Bible. They say a lot of young people have had to leave because there is no work. It sounds a lot like Pittsburgh after the steel mills left.

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