Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt.1
I have to confess and apologise as this has taken me over a year to get around to writing. The reason for this is that it has taken me this long to really absorb the wonderful journey that I went on, a journey that took me all around Taiwan. The journey was not just about riding beautiful roads on my scooter and seeing amazing things, making a photographic essay for Nat Geo Traveller or shooting a campaign for SYM. It was a journey for me too, one of discovery, discovery about myself, being alone in a foreign country, the thoughts and realisations that come to you in these moments, and most importantly learning to be in that moment.
This is my SanYang Motor Company MaxSYM600iABS, Together we travelled 2000 miles, miles which took us along the coast, up to over 3000 meters and over all kinds of surfaces. She may not be the most svelte of machines, but she sure ticks the comfortable, sure footed and reliable boxes. There is plenty of space under the saddle for bags, but I needed to carry my camera kit too, so fitted out with a topbox I had all the space I required. Perfect for the tour.
My route would take me from home in Linkou (just south of Taipei), south down the island central and then west to the coast before travelling back north all the way up the east coast. I would make wrong turns and my satellite navigation system would break down. I set off with a planned and solid route, but as with all things in life, we have to learn to be flexible and roll with what comes our way.
This was my planned route, each coloured represented a day on the road from one destination to the next. I wasn't travelling everyday as I spent a few in some areas to explore more.
Leg one took me through Yilan County and into Taichung County where I was to stay the night near Heping District. It was a pretty straight forward run down the very winding route number 7. As usual I was late leaving and had to cover a fair section in the dark, it wasn't too warm up in the mountain and I was quite tired by the time I reached the homestay for the night.
I am sorry that there are no real photographs of this section, the sky was grey and time was against me. When I woke up the following morning, I found I was in a most beautiful place. Heping District is full of fruit farms and I had arrived in the middle of pear season. Fresh, cool and crisp pears for breakfast were very refreshing and a great way to start the day. Not to mention the amazing view.
I could have made photographs every half a mile, I was on a schedule and needed to complete the second leg of my journey into Hualien and Taroko Gorge National Park. With my scooter happily loaded and riding well I pushed on.
So Looks simple enough, along the 7 and onto the 8, the only problem was that I went the wrong direction on the 8! I don't get stressed about going the wrong way, it is all part of the adventure and I got to discover this...
The road was beautiful, and had it not been for the fact it was closed due to a landslide I would have continued along it. I suppose I got my first warning passing this, a fairly common problem, and something to be aware of when travelling in this part of the island, a landslide had wiped part of the road away. The section I passed was almost repaired, it was further along that a more serious issue was in the process of repair. Kind of explained why this section of route 8 was so free of other traffic.
Backtracking and heading in the correct direction I was soon winding my way into Taroko Gorge. My destination was Silks Place Taroko (I will write about this place in my next blog), the journey to it greets you with stunning views at every turn. The road through the Gorge is called the Central Cross Island Highway and is classed as the seventh most dangerous in the world. No you are not likely to be held up by highwaymen or blown up by mines, but you may have a rock fall on you, and one as big as a house at that. I figured it was best to keep moving and chased the rising clouds for a chance to see above them.
Back down in the gorge, the crystal blue water cascades through the rocky, boulder ridden twists and turns. It is hard to find the right place to stop and make a shot. Fortunately I was to be staying in the gorge for a couple of nights and would have a day to explore more. For now I will leave you with this shot of the Liwu River that formed the gorge to wet your appetite.
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One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.