Tsaotun town.

This weekend I went to the Gukeng Coffee District to “camp” with some local families. I’d love to show you magnificent scenery and beautiful coffee plants, but it was much too hazy for decent scenery shots, and we sat around chatting and playing cards instead of charging about hiking and imaging. Very relaxing. The cafe next to the campsite offered wireless internet, too….as always, click on any pic to see its Flickr page.

The day actually began in Tsaotun, south of Taichung, where I went to judge a speech contest at a local kindy. Snapped this hard-working fellow off to the recycling plant with his latest collection.

We took Highway 3 down to Gukeng. The campground was in the foothills right next to Jianfushan Amusement Park. The views would have been spectacular but for the haze that consumed all creation.

Despite the unpromising weather, we took to camping with a will.

My son leads a card game.

Sunday morning the tents lay still. And crowded close together. Actually, they usually rough it.This time was exceptional, they assured me.

Food awaits the early risers.

Next door is one of the soil and water conservation bureau’s activity centers.

This exhibit preserves some old grinding stones, still geared, used in the old days in the sugar industry.

The center also offered some excellent views, including that of the ferris wheel from the amusement park incongruously overlooking western Taiwan.

A close up, in the foreground is a roller coaster.

The big wheel keeps on turnin’…..

A coffee shop — at $200 a cup — is an inevitability in the Gukeng area. Rumor has it, though, that little of the coffee sold there is actually locally produced.

My wife and I took a stroll around the lake in front of the Tzguang Temple, a gentle morning activity.

On the way back to the campground we saw these two lizards circling, posturing, hooting at each other, until….

…they lunged!

After lunch we headed home. I took this shot of tea plants in neat rows as revenge for all the coffee kitsch.

Although Gukeng is more known for its coffee, it is actually a center of pineapple production as well. Here we picked them up at low prices.