Friday, October 31, 2008

October 9 -12, 2008 Taroko Gorge and Hulian

Side note: Please bare with me. I just want to cus, I know that may sound bad, but literally this post has taken me three straight days to do, and I still didn't get done with it. I have so many pictures I wanted to post but it takes hours beyond hours and now days beyond days. I want to pick up my computer and throw it into the wall. awwwww. So please appreciate what I have done. And on top of that my pictures got all out of order and Im getting so frustrated with that. But whatever... Its just a blog with pictures.  But I really have taken some actually not just some but a lot and a lot of time to do this damn post. So enjoy! 

Taroko was AMAZING! It was so neat and it was sooooo quick. We did everything in 4 days. From traveling there by train on Thursday at 7:30 am (which we almost missed because Courtney's alarm didn't go off) to running to catch the train Sunday afternoon. We just didn't stop running, walking, hiking or biking.
We did in fact catch the train Thursday morning and arrived in Hualien around noon. The next bus up into the Gorge and to Tiensing where we were staying didn't leave until 2:30p.m. so we had a couple hours to chill. There were some taxi drivers that would not leave us alone, we where not going to pay the outrageous prices that they wanted us to pay to get up to Tiensing any sooner. It ended up working out great anyway because for most of the way thorough the Gorge to Tiensing we where alone on the bus and the driver stopped for us to take pictures and let us out once. It was like our own personal tour anyway for 155NT each instead of the 2000NT that the taxi's wanted to charge us.
We finally arrived up in Tiensing about 5 o'clock pm which didn't leave us much time to do anything on Thursday. The town of Tiensing was a ghost town because most of the Taiwanese people did not have Thursday off so it was eerily quiet (Friday was Taiwan's Birthday). We wandered over to the Buddhist Temple and started to take pictures on the bridge and along the way with cool camera settings. It was way fun. When we finally got to the stairs to climb to the Temple a lady came and told us that it was closed and we had to leave. So since it was getting dark we started to wander back to the Catholic Hostel that we where staying at but we decided to stop on the way and take a look at the Grand Formosa hotel which we decided not to stay at for 4800NT a night. But we walked in wandered around and then headed back to our 1400NT a night hostel and had a peanut butter and honey (which we carried with us the whole time) sandwich, talked, wandered around the hostel, played pounce, talked to our traveler friend from Holland and finally went to bed.
We got up around 7:30am and headed up the Gorge further. We walked up the street for a little ways and took a trail that we had been looking forward to. This trail took us to the water curtain tunnel which was really cool. This tunnel that the Taiwanese had carved out of the mountain for a trail has water just cascading out of the roof and the sides because of the water that runs between the layers of rock. We then played down by the river on the HUGE boulders back near the entrance to the trail. After that one we continued up the road towards another trail that we wanted to take. We where getting a little tired and sore but we found the trail to the old Hot Springs but it was blocked off because the hot springs where no longer functional because of river floods and earthquakes that had occurred. We decided that we "couldn't" read the sign that said don't go that way and went anyway (Britta and I would pull out our only Spanish routine if anyone caught us and got mad.) It looked like it would have been a really cool place before the damaged occurred. We then went back to the road and headed for that trail that we wanted to take to the Ponds. We stopped at the next little place to re-fuel (Super Supa is the closest thing to Gatorade that we can find). We asked how much further and started walking yet again. We finally had someone offer us a ride but the place where we wanted to go was literally around the next bend and got out less than a minute later. We started down that trail and we ran into an American and a Taiwanese lady at one of the bridges that we had to cross. They told us that they where headed back and they had not made it to the ponds, we decided that because of time we would not go the whole way. Instead we started taking pictures on the bridge and had fun with that and then headed back. There where more people in Tiensing Friday night because a lot of Taiwanese didn't have to work. It is the major holiday for the Taiwanese. So we ate fried rice at the little dive in town and played the game "guess where the other foreigners are from" which really turns into "what language are they speaking?" We where guessing one group was speaking Norwegian and there where a couple English speaking groups and two girls speaking German. We then headed back to our Hostel in the dark and played more pounce, ate more sandwiches and slept.
The next day we decided to head down the Gorge since we had to carry everything with us. We did not stay up in the Gorge the third night, which we decided that we where inspired not to because there was not all that much to do up there after 5 pm. First we walked to the Pavilion or the Buddhist Temple that is up in Tiensing. That was what we started to do the first night but where turned away. We walked up the many many many flights of stairs and took some awesome pictures of Tiensing, the Grand Formosa Hotel and the surrounding areas. We then started our trek down the Gorge. There where some pretty tight one lane sections that we still don't know how the big huge tour busses make it up through and then some pretty dark tunnels that where a little bit scary to walk through (needless to say we hugged the walls!) Along the way we took a lot of pictures and made a few stops. There was the ecological museum and the short little trail from that section. We also went along the Nine Turns trail which really is the old road that they made a pedestrian path and created a new road for the busses and cars through a huge tunnel. That is actually the coolest part of the Gorge I think! Really deep canyon of granite cliffs. There was also the Swallow Grotto where and along that trail there was a tour bus escorted by 4 cop cars (we know it was someone important but we have no idea who.) We stopped, we walked and walked and walked until our feet hurt really bad, Courtney was struggling and at one point Britta had both Courtney's and her own back pack on (one on front and one on back) and I am guessing that this is when we looked the most pathetic because someone of the millions of cars that passed finally stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. We took it, it was a cute family of 2 girls and a mom. The girls where Miki (24, who consequently had spent 3 months in America, 2 months working in Bryce Canyon and then another month traveling on the west coast) and Kimberly (22). The girls where home for the holiday since they both study in Taipei. We talked and told them that we just needed a ride to the mouth to catch our bus but they didn't end up stopping. They asked us if we had seen the beach yet and we hadn't so the mom decided she wanted to take us! So we went to the beach. They then took us to our hostel and we exchanged email addresses so that when we made our next trip to Taipei she could show us some stuff or go out to eat with us and when she goes to America again she has some contacts in the Salt Lake Area. After dropping us off at our hostel (which was way nicer than we expected!! We actually thought that they misunderstood and took us to the wrong place but it was totally correct) we actually had a little extra time so we headed to grab food which McDonald's ended up being the place we went because we can read the menu. We then headed to the aboriginal show that was our main goal for the night. We watched it and it was actually pretty cool, we got pictures with the dancers and decided to head for the night market. We ended up being misinformed and went in the completely opposite direction but instead found of all things BEACH VOLLEYBALL!! Which by the way had better sand than any of the actual beaches in Taiwan. Courtney and Britta graciously let me have my few moments to gawk and then Britta in her (actually getting really good) Chinese asked if I could play with them and they let me. They thought I was amazing although I felt like I couldn't do anything since I haven't played for so long. Britta and Courtney actually ended up playing on the other court so we all had volleyball fun. The people that I played with where also from Taipei and we switched email addresses as well so that we now have all sorts of contacts in Taipei. We then went to the night market which we found out was on the other end of the street we where on just in the other direction. I bought a pretty cool headband there. We saw our volleyball friends again (Eric and Shawn, and others I don't know the names of). It started to close and we headed back to our hostel with our favorite 7-Eleven stop on the way (I honestly don't know how we walked so far!) After 7-Eleven we headed back to our Hostel and someone was yelling at us from behind. Some drunk Taiwanese where fallowing us so we "pretended" that we didn't know English or Chinese and started only speaking Spanish (well Britta and I did). We got to our hostel hurried to the elevator and heard them follow us in. We pushed all the buttons because at the bottom it tells you what floor the elevator is on and we ran to our room and locked the door (we where actually laughing hysterically). We then showered, gave each other massages and went to bed.
Sunday was our last day in Hualien and we had to catch a specific train later that day to make our later connection in Taipei to head home to Chunghua. We got up, packed up and left our bags behind the counter. We rented bikes for 100NT for the day and headed back along the trail towards the beach that we went to the day before. We road for sooooo long. It was actually really cool but it was just really a lot farther than we thought that it was going to be. We eventually made it took pictures and then headed back to Hualien to take pictures of the cool benches that they have there. Hidden throughout the city there are the coolest stone benches that are carved from Taroko granite and placed all over. We had decided the day before that we wanted to see how many we could take a picture of. We started doing that but stopped and ate some food at this place that we saw the night before but didn't know how to order what we wanted, we just kind of pointed this time. With the help of Britta knowing words we got good food!! We then took pictures of benches, took the bikes back and then started the trek to the train station. We realized that we where not going to make it and started running but then we decided it was taxi time (by the way we where still trying to snap pictures of the benches as we where running). We where trying to flag a taxi, still run and not fall (I did and it was so slow motion and sooooo funny, I didn't get hurt I fell so gradually it was just I could never get my balance because I was top heavy with my bag). We also saw a sister missionary just staring at us, she has no idea that we where actually of her faith and she just thinks she saw crazy American girls. We then said Britta go get the picture of these 3 benches we want, Courtney pay the taxi and I would buy the train tickets. We almost didn't make it, the line was so long. Britta got in and started trying to find out info from the guard, he told her that we could buy platform tickets and pay the difference on the train, which all happened right as we got to the front of the line. So we jumped out of line and headed for the train, we booked it to the train. People where waving us on and literally seconds after we got on the doors shut and we where off. We ended up because the train was so packed never seeing the attendant to pay the difference and when we got to Taipei we never left the station so we ended up only paying 6NT for our Hualien to Taipei train ride (not supposed to have happened that way!) it only happened because we already had our tickets in hand for the next train so we didn't have to go out to purchase them or upon exit you give your ticket and pay the difference. So after standing for 2 hours we got to finally sit on the way nice express train and end our adventure in style!

Thanks to Melissa she sent me what she wrote on our great adventure! 
Melissa finally found some real sand a real volleyball net. We hit it right off with the locals in Hulian. It was so much fun. -Our last night on our trip. :(
Hulian city. 
This guy would not stop following us around, he wanted to be our taxi driver so bad. He followed us/me basically for a solid hour. 
I thought this red bridge that was going into the one of many tunnels was fascinating. 
The 1st night in Taroko it was completely dead, so we went to the Formosa hotel which was like $120 a night, the only hotel beside our sweet get up hostel. And we saw the art exhibit of how Taroko Gorge came about. 
The bridge leading up to the temple, it was right outside our hostel 
I had just woken up- we were headed up to Taroko, we were the only ones in our bus, it was pretty sweet. A bus to ourselves at such a low cost.  
We stopped in a museum coming down the mountain. There were models of the Earth and how it evolved over the thousand of years. Interesting. 

Everytime I see a dragon I gotta take it for my step daddy! 

The beginning of Taroko! 
This was a sweet statue. So dreamy.
Yes this is a yellow and green spotted house with a mushroom of some sort in front of it. ha ha
I loved the beautiful sky.... in Hulian 

At the Catholic Hostel

The kittens and the mama cat at the catholic hostel. Her poor little nipples. 

You better believe it.... Wo I nee too! 

This was awesome.

The entrance to the water cave trail.
These rocks were unbelievable in the sunlight. 
The long cave that we had to go through. 
Yes we went into the water cave. 

And so did our yellow ducks, but they came prepared, however, we did not. 
The water turned to an old sick muddy color after the Typhoon, it was disappointing.
But we did get lucky in some spots and we saw some beautiful water. 

Thumbs up! 

Little cool froggy. 
Britta doing the splits on this sketchy log. Look at her go! 
Mel and me! 
Of course I am trying to sun bathe. 

The hot springs that we had trespassed that we could have been fined for if we would've gotten caught. It got wiped out by a Typhoon years ago. It was an awesome place. To bad it just doesn't exist anymore. 

Our Catholic hostel. 
This was not a picture that was suppose to purposely be taken of Britta and I we just needed an excuse to take a picture of our Holland friend in the back! You should try it next time. It is a great trick! And you get the picture that you want without getting caught. 
And yes the hairy man is our Holland friend. 

The entrance to our hostel. 
The overlook of the small town in Taroko Gorge. 
The nine tunnels trail... my favorite. 

This was a cool hike it was on the mountain that we hiked up and it overlooked the roads and such. It was such an adventure, like Indiana Jones or something. 
It was incredible the way the busses maneuvered around the mountain. 

We pulled another trick... It was funnier in person, but the lady with the backless shirt,  her clothes were just flat out ridiculous, from head to toe. We are in the mountains for crying out loud. 
Us eating our favorite thing for 4 days straight, peanut butter and honey sandwhiches. 
The people that picked us up at the bottom of Taroko and took us around Hulian, they were so so sweet. 
Oh yes did we make it to the Aboriginal Dance. 

How could we simply not get a picture of this. 

When he holds her by the knee that means they are married. 

They love me.... and I love them...
Our sweet head gear. 

We raced down these things, it was quite fun.

Food street, people waiting to get food at this one joint. It was hoppin. 
I dont know what we were eating but it was by far the most delicious thing on our trip. 
The zig zag bench. 

And this is how this woman makes a living, out of her bicycle making hot diggedy dogs. 
A funny comic strip graffitied on the wall. 
I went to this really cool art gallery that I spotted out and I got some pretty cool postcards in here. 
The view from the top. 
The awesome waves. 
Hulian- pronounced Waleean F.Y.I
And here I am after 3 minutes of wallowing over my wetness, I am just happy to see the ocean. 
That seemed to fail, I got soaked anyways. 
Running away from the wave, I didn't want to get wet seeming that I had to ride a bike the whole day and get on a train. 
I like butts what can I say, Melissa wouldn't look she just simply turned her head. I know she thought it was funny. 
The sea creatures are sooo cool. 
Holy moley moley moley...
This was taken from across the street, we were running short on time. They are slippers. 
Since we couldn't sit on the bench we took a picture of it anyway. 

Fly like a bird, you only live once. 
Can you find the man's head?
moooo with a !!!!!!!!

Only the fashionable may represent this one. And that was left for me to do! 
The dating/marriage ritual bench
The Paleontologist benchThe bottle bench
The piano bench
Yes we had to stand here in this mob on the train for 2 hours. Yeah tell me about it! I was so comatose too!