Friday, 19 March 2010

Taiwan Day 3-5: Taroko Gorge (太鲁阁)

About 2 hours train ride from Taipei on the Taroko Express is Hualien and from Hualien, it's a short car- ride to Taroko Gorge National Park, a nice getaway from the city. Hikers will love the many trails here. If you don't like to walk too much (like us), don't fret, you can catch tours, rent a taxi or car and explore the area =)

Take note that it's mountainous terrains and you'd be driving by the edge of a cliff so if you don't have the guts, it's better to join a tour. and although renting a car gives you greater flexibility, be aware that some of the trails are one way (as in not loop) so you got to walk back to your car. For tours, they let you off on one end, you walk all the way and they pick you up from the other end.

To truly explore the sights, I suggest staying at least 1 night in taroko gorge itself. By the time you reach Hualien, it's almost afternoon so you can probably do a half-day tour and another half-day tour the next day (if you stay one night) OR a half-day tour followed by a one-day tour (if you stay two nights).

Baiyang trail is the one i was dying to see cos you can apparently see some waterfall curtains but it was CLOSED >.< sighs... very bang...

some of the spots we visited are

Clearwater cliff (清水断崖)which faces the Pacific Ocean. This is actually outside of Taroko Gorge but is just a short 15 mins drive along the edge.

Eternal Spring Shrine (长春祠) I am very upset that the pic is OOF =( anyway I was very pissed cos it was very crowded with tourists (I won't say which country) and they smoked, spit and talked so loudly it kinda disrupted the senerity of the place >.<

Swallow's Grotto Trail (燕子口)There are two trails here but one of them was closed so we used the one near our hotel. We were deceived by the "400m" printed on the sign... going down was easy but the ascent was =PPP a workout!!! =PPP although 400m, we felt like we ran 2.4 km!!

Experimented with slow shutter speed, thanks to my CP filter and tripod =) I wanted to get an ND filter but they ran out of B+W so I didn't buy...

There was a suspension bridge which I was interested to try crossing but apparently, you need some form of permit to cross it... hm...

Cimu Bridge (慈母桥)two nice pavilions here to rest and take in the sights =)

tripod boy (^^)V

The fact that they have to put up this sign means someone must have defecated here... super gross >.<

Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞)We didn't finish walking the entire 1.2km cos we were too lazy =P

This means "(The gorge is) like the twists and turns of the intestines and the meanders of a river. But sheer human determination triumphs over nature to open this path." I feel it's so beautifully said =)

I didn't really want to wear the helmet cos i didn't know who wore it before me, whether the person had oily hair or got put brylcreem or got kootoo or what right... but no choice, between cleanliness and survival, better choose survival >.<

Tanxiang (天祥) is probably the only place you can get some food for lunch but be warned that the eateries here sell buffet-style meals and according to the guidebook, you take whatever you want, they weigh it, charge you and pop it into the microwave oven >.<

so we ate this 5-star hotel, the only 5-star hotel in the area calld SILKS PLACE. not bad and not too expensive la. like $15 for fried noodles lor. Most tourists will actually stay here but we chose the more exotic Leader Village Taroko which I will blog about later =)

This was also the place where our rental car kena langah by a local =(

There are other trails like Shakadang trail which we didn't explore la. At first when you enter the gorge you go WAH WAH WAH!!!! cos it's so nice and you feel like you're in one of those period dramas in search of a martial arts exponent (usually with long white eyebrows that flutter in the wind) to learn some secret kungfu but after a while, they all look the same liaoz hahaha... cliffs by the side, rivers at the bottom lor. fall down will prob die kind lor...