Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge was a blast! I loved it. It was beautiful and fun to drive through. I rented a scooter in Hualien and drove to the gorge. There is only one scooter rental place in Hualien that rents to foreigners, it's called Pony and is located right across from the Train Station. It's 500 NT to rent.

I have never been on a scooter in my entire life, but after a few minutes I got the hang of it. Driving a scooter in Taiwan can be a little daunting at first. Drivers in Taiwan do not drive like drivers in the USA. To Americans the drivers seem reckless and dangerous. Pedestrians do not have the right of way at all. Basically the biggest vehicle has the right of way.

Also it seems scooters generally do not make left turns. Instead they drive off to the lane that's perpendicular to them and wait for the light to turn green.

Anyway, if you're daring enough to rent a scooter I would highly recommend that as the best way to see Taroko Gorge. Driving up and down through the winding rodes while enjoying the view is... well, I've never experienced anything like it. It's one of the most fun things I've ever done.

You can also rent a taxi or get on a tour bus, but that seems not as fun. Taxis are expensive and often the cab driver will want you to share it with strangers (which can be fun) but they won't give you a group discount, you'll need to insist on it. One driver tried to scam me for 700 NT (this is after she dropped from the original price of 1000) AND I would have to share it with strangers. No thanks. The tour buses are full of old people and you can't run off and hike whatever trails you want.

Taroko Gorge is a National Park near Hualien. The gorge itself consists mainly of marble. The name comes from the Aboriginals that originally lived here.

Entrance to Toroko Gorge

Mountains along Taroko Gorge

Cross this bridge if you want to go to the visitor information center. They'll give you information on the park conditions regarding safety.

The information center also has videos about the gorge and models, including this model of a Formosan wild boar! When I saw this I thought: I hope I don't run into any of those!

They also have a relief model of the park there.

Go back across the bridge and through the first of many tunnels

Suspension bridge to the Bell Tower

The Bell Tower

View from the Bell Tower


The Eternal Spring

A closer shot of the Eternal Spring

You can walk to the Eternal Spring. Once there you'll see this pool of water where the water collects before pouring out from under the bridge in the photos above. You can go stand in it, I did, but be warned the water is very cold.

Taroko Gorge and a suspension bridge

There are waterfalls everywhere along Taroko Gorge, this is one of them.

The aboriginal tribe Truku traditionally lived in Taroko Gorge. You can visit them while driving through. There are big signs, you can't miss it.

This is a dolled up village mainly for tourists to stay at. A rather vicious looking dog cased me here. I'd like to think that I followed the lessons taught by Ceasar Milan: I acted as the pack leader! I pointed down and said "Hey Hey!" Then the dog turned around and sat back down. In reality though, I was actually running for my life while pointing down and screaming "Hey Hey!!!!!!". I think it left me along after I left its territory.... not so much my pack leader skills.

Wood carvings of Taiwanese Wild Boar! I believe this aboriginal tribe used to headhunt. Tradition dictated that to become a man you had to bring back a head. Eventually this tradition was halted for obvious reason and a wild boar was used instead.

Swallow Grotto - used to be home to thousands of swallows. Today, sadly, the tourist buses and cars have scared them away.

One of the tunnels from the Tunnel of Nine Turns.

Along the Tunnel of Nine Turns. You can see the marble clearly here too.

Waterfall along the Tunnel of Nine Turns.

Baiyang Trail

River along the beginning of Baiyang trail

A warning... perhaps venomous wasps? Killer bees??? I have no idea! Where's the English!?!?!?!?!

Along the Baiyang trail.

Along the Baiyang trail.

the Water Curtain Cave

Inside the Water Curtain Cave. My camera sucks, but there is a waterfall there. You will need a flash light in here.

river along Baiyang trail

At the Biyang falls I met an older couple. The wife had stayed behind and warned me that I needed to wear a rain coat inside the cave. You need to be covered up, and you need to protect your electronics. You will get drenched in there. Also bring a flash light, there are a lot of tunnels you need to go through with no lights. Anyway, as with so many of the nice Taiwanese people I have met they were interested in my trip and where I was staying, etc. When they heard I was in Hualien they said it's far and close to nightfall; stay at our place for free. I was blown away by their generosity, but I declined them as I had already paid for my place.

Driving through Taroko Gorge at night is not as fun. While driving the scooter a lot of bugs hit my face, nasty. At least I didn't eat any. Obviously you cannot see anything, and big cars like to zoom by you.


tony said...

wasup batman, nice cave u got there!

Anonymous said...

The direct translation for 「小心毒蜂」 is "Watch out for poisonous bees":)

Vagabond Vince said...

Thanks for the translation!