Thursday, October 15, 2009

Haulien or Bust...

So I usually leave the blogging up to Joslyn as I feel she might be a little better at telling a story through this type of thing, but seeing as how she missed the trip to Hualien with school work, I figure I'll give it a shot.

Hualien is the largest county in Taiwan and is located on the east coast.  It has a number of draws for tourism.  You can surf, you can go whitewater rafting, or check out Taroko Gorge to name a few things.  We were really just going there to see the island and spend some quality time with friends, and planned to do a few things while we were there.  The weekend to come turned out to be a great adventure, filled with the most rain you could ever imagine, even on a tropical island.

The drive on Highway 9 is supposed to be one of the most beautiful routes you can take on the entire island, and as a prelude to the weekend to come, we weren't able to see anything.  I guess not being able to see anything is a bit of an overstatement... we just couldn't see anything worth looking at.  As you can see in the picture, Lindsey has no trouble pointing out the landslide that is blocking our lane of the highway.  So instead of seeing beautiful scenic highway, I saw for the first time in my life the brutal power of a landslide, with piles of trees ripped from their roots mixed with mud and rock laying in the middle of the road.  I also was able to see mountainous roads with lanes that existed a few days ago, just not that day.  So just making it there was a great feat, and thanks to Mark's wonderful driving through 7 landslides and 4 missing lanes, we made it there with our lives.

So after making it there we asked the nice lady at the counter what there was to do in the town while pouring down rain.  She promptly replied with "nothing."  So not wanting to waste the day, we ended up hanging out on the porch of the hostel playing games and enjoying each others company.

So we woke up the morning of the rafting trip and they told us there was too much water to go rafting?  Too much water?  Like too much air to go flying?  Or too many waves to go surfing?  Needless to say, it didn't make much sense to us in the beginning.  But we decided to make the most of the day and head to Taroko Gorge.  The ride there should have given us an indication of what was to come.

These two pictures were taken a day apart and pretty much show what happens in Taiwan after a lot of rain.  The entire island erupts in waterfalls and Taroko and the drive there turned out to be one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a long time.  This entire mountainside the second day of our trip was full of waterfalls, and my camera could only catch half of them.

Taroko could have been the most beautiful place in the world I ever thought I would die.  The enitre gorge was stunning.  Beyond all of the great picturesque things in the gorge, there was also the occasional four ton boulder where our van once stood, or the sight of falling rocks in front of you, as well as inadvertent waterfalls occuring in the middle of the road.  We finally understood what too much water meant.  Keep in mind that the boulders in the pictures below are about the size of a really large house.

But getting past the life threatening aspects of the gorge, it was easily the most stunning place we have gone in Taiwan yet, and I would definitely reccomend anyone who visits Taiwan take a trip to the gorge, and check the weather before you go.  I would give it at least a day, but all of the hiking trails were closed so we couldn't totally explore.

So the ride home turned out to be the last, and longest part of our journey.  As I have said before, there was a good bit of rain during the entire weekend, and we almost didn't make it there with landslides.  Taiwan has a huge mountain range in the middle of it and there are only two cross island highways, one on each end of the island.  Well they were both closed, as well as the highway north to Taipei.  To make a really long story short, we travelled as far south as is possible in Taiwan to travel back north to our lovely home.  In only took 13 short hours in a car with friends, and turned out to be a fun trip.  When I realize how to post pictures without making this post a mile long, I'll give you a little more of a glimpse.  For now, I'll just give you these few pictures.

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