Bridges in Taiwan
What is a Bridge?
The word bridge is interesting. It comes from an Old English word, brycg. It can be used as a verb or a noun. As a noun, the word 'bridge' can represent many things.
- A bridge may be a part of a nose, a ship, false teeth, or a stringed instrument.
- A bridge may be the name of a game.
- A bridge may be a structure that is built between or over obstacles so that a route may span the obstacles or provide passage between two points.
Bridges in Taiwan
Bridges in Taiwan are built for many purposes and a variety of materials are used in the construction of bridges, depending on the design and its function - and, I guess, the funds available for its construction.
Bridges in Taiwan also need to be well-built to withstand typhoons and the many earthquakes.
The Taipei Bridge: Probably the best known bridge, especially for tourists, is the Taipei Bridge that crosses the Dan-Shui River, linking the main part of the Capital City with a number of commercial areas. it has quite a history, most of which can be read elsewhere.
- There had been a wooden bridge across the Dan-Shui River since the end of the 1400s.
- In the later part of the 1800s it was moved to a more narrow part of the river.
- In 1925 it was replaced by one of steel and concrete.
- In 1969 a new concrete toll-bridge was opened.
- The current bridge was opened in 1996. As well as about six lanes for motor transport, it provides separate lanes for motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Other Road and Rail Bridges in Taiwan: There are several different types of bridges in Taiwan that are very well-known and well documented, so what I am mostly concerned with here are smaller bridges.
The Small Bridges of Taiwan: Taiwan people love bridges. They provide great venues for viewing sunsets and, along with all the steps on trekking paths up the many mountains, it is considered a healthy activity to walk across bridges, so there are numerous bridges at the sea-shore in unexpected places and in public and private parks.
Sometimes bridges at the seashore are built linking one rocky area to another. They aid those who wish to clamber over the rocks and also add to the scenic beauty. These bridges are built in many different styles and with different materials. Many are humped, sometimes several times over so that the walker is obliged to climb up and down as he crosses.
The boardwalk where the group in the photograph is standing is also a type of bridge as it spans over the rocks and small seawater inlets.
Even small bridges vary in size, purpose and in the materials used in their construction.
The bridges above are part of narrow walking paths that wind around between houses and over a small stream. There seems to be a different view to enjoy at every turn and it is very picturesque.
Bridges Over Small Rivers and Streams
Apart from the large bridges that sometimes carry pedestrians and vehicles on one level and trains on another level above or below, because of the mountainous terrain in Taiwan there are many small rivers and streams that need to be spanned. These bridges may be intended for pedestrians only, for bicycles and motor scooters, or for local traffic.
The bridge above is utilitarian, but is also useful for viewing the 'Loch Ness Monster,' which is fun, both for locals and visitors. 'Nessie' rises up out of the depths, spouts water and then sinks down below the surface again.
Bridges in Steep Areas
There are delightful rural areas that are quite close to cities and easily accessible for walkers.
In the photograph above the hiking trail runs beside a light train track and there is a safety rail at the side. The scenery is lovely and the air is cooler in the mountains. Most of the trail is actually a bridge beside the deep ravine and it's good to pause on the steep climb to enjoy the views and listen to the sound of the waterfall. The trail continues to climb for quite a distance.
Footbridge Over a Busy Road
This photograph was taken from our flat on the fourth level of the Good Shepherd complex in the Taipei suburb of Shi-Lin. The road is about eight lanes wide and would be almost impossible to cross without the bridge. On festival occasions the bridge is often decorated. That is a high school opposite.
I remember crossing that footbridge to get home during a typhoon. The authorities had thought it would miss Taiwan, so schools and universities were not closed until the storm was almost upon us. The staff bus driver did a valiant job of trying to keep the bus in the one lane, but we were often blown across to another lane. Fortunately by this time there was little other traffic.
When I alighted, the rain seemed to be almost horizontal. I ran to shelter in a shop doorway. The windows were all covered, but the noise of the shrieking wind was horrific. I ran to the steps of the footbridge and grabbed a column. Gradually I reached the top where the wind was even stronger. I was soaked through and just had to wait for a slight lull to let go of one pillar and run to grab the next. Sheets of corrugated iron were blown across the road like paper. I was really glad the bridge was there.
When I reached the bottom of the steps the other side I had to cover my head with my bag. The rain was coming in sheets and numerous tiles were being blown off roofs.
It was such a relief to get indoors.
The bridges in Taiwan are so varied and interesting and they are definitely worth seeing but it is best not to visit in typhoon season.