Saturday, June 8, 2013

樹, 樹, 多的樹木 (Trees, trees, and more trees!)

Hello everybody! I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a while, it's such a busy week! This past week the grad students took me to the National Forest here in Taiwan, around a 2 hour drive from the university. We were helping one of the grad students to finish his thesis paper. He needed some more data, so we were off!

The 2 hr drive wasn't bad, it was a beautiful drive through many scenic areas. The car had a couple cassette tapes, and the only English one was a very very old Madonna tape haha. So we jammed out to 'Lets Have a Party' and others haha. But we passed many farm fields filled with rice patties, as well as some picturesque mountain scenes.  Even though I've been here for a couple weeks, I still can't get over how beautifully unique Taiwan is.
Once we hit the base of the mountain, the road immediately became very narrow, and curvy. There was one point when we were nearing our destination, where the road seemed to shrink even more. This was the most steepest, narrowest, curvy road I've ever been on! The trees were inches from our car window, but I didn't realize that this road was actually a two way... so once a car arrived directly across from us, it was definitely a tight fit!

We had to wear some worker boots while we were up in the mountains, because I was told some of the Taiwanese people release poisonous snakes due to their tradition/religion. Soooo, hiking through the brush was at first a little scary; based on not being able to see where exactly my feet were landing. We meet the guys who work for the Lidar Machine company at the site. A lidar machine is used to collect data quickly by taking scattered points of the environment. A picture is constructed by millions of data points which is used to analyze the height or distribution. The Taiwanese government is allowed to cut only a certain number of trees from this national forest. To do this, the government, in a way, stamps the cut tree with a mark and number. It was our job to find these labeled stumps and place a stick with a paper tag. This is in order for the Lidar machine to pick up where the trees used to be. So that is pretty much an overview of what we were to do over these couple days. The mountain is very dewy with some mist in surrounding our site, so the trees and rocks were a little slippery; a little difficult to climb the steep incline. It was like a nature obstacle course!
At the base each stripped row, there is one huge tree that has a ladder nailed to its side. These were used for workers. So we took a little break and I got to climb it! It was so cool to get a different view of the mountain side!
We spent the night at a motel, which was near the work site. It was really cool! We walked into a building that looked like someone's home, and their dogs were so cute! (the next morning they were right by our door to greet us!) But anyways, once we got our room key, we headed behind the house where there was a row of rooms, and in the center was a intricate water/pond display. It was so unique! It was nice to sleep after a day of hiking up and down the steep incline. But, we had to be ready by 5 a.m the next day so we could go meet the Lidar company's men at our site. It's better to start work early when it is still cool outside rather than wait until the sun makes the air hot! But the next day we were back to work! It was such a cool experience to see data collecting in action.

we are on our way! the beautiful view!

a view of our work site

one of the cut down strips

used with the lidar machine (they are placed around the outskirts)

found a stick bug!

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