The Dry and Dusty Gaoping River 高屏溪

Clouds of dust on the horizon
Clouds of dust on the horizon on the edge of rural Pingtung 屏東.

I traversed the dry and dusty Gāopíng River 高屏溪 (a portmanteau of Kaohsiung 高雄 and Pingtung 屏東, which this river divides) while riding around southern Taiwan in the dog days of summer earlier this year. I was heading south from Měinóng 美濃, bound for no place in particular, and soon found myself crossing into Lǐgǎng 里港, where anemic river channels meandered through thick deposits of silt and gravel that had washed down from the distant mountains. Mining operations lined the wide banks and countless gravel trucks lumbered along the bridges and highways of the area, filling the air with dust and littering the roadways with debris. It was not a pleasant place for cycling or any other human activity—so I turned west on a whim, toward Dàshù 大樹 and what secrets it might hold, and left the dust behind.