Out In Salt Country

Out on the fan-shaped salt pans of Qingkunshen
Out on the fan-shaped salt pans of Qingkunshen.

The western coastline of Tainan 台南 is a desolate place, a manufactured landscape of salt pans and aquaculture ponds stretching as far as the eye can see. It is not conventionally beautiful by any means—but there is something about it that speaks to me on a level beyond language and conscious thought.

I took my first spin through the area while on my round-the-island bicycle tour. It was far too hot to stay and explore—but I vowed to return one day. About a month ago an opportunity arose to undertake a road trip from Tainan 台南, where I was living at the time, up to central Taiwan.

Along the way I stopped to explore the Qingkunshen Fan-Shaped Salt Flats 青鯤鯓扇形鹽田 (pinyin: Qīngkūnshen Shànxíng Yántián) in Jiāngjūn 將軍, a minor attraction that I had previously seen from a distance. Up close the fan-like structure was revealed to be a series of rings connected by crumbling concrete channels like the one pictured above. There wasn’t much to see, as it turns out, but the feeling of being so remote from the rest of civilization in both time and space made the detour worthwhile.