Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt3...... Taroko Gorge National Park.
Having ridden into Taroko Gorge National Park from the north, I had headed over mountains and then steadily desended into the beautiful gorge itself. I could write about the gorge, how the river cuts its' route through marble and is a beautiful cool blue colour. I could tell you that within 60km the Central Cross Island Highway rises from sea level at the Hualien end to 3000m and then on up beyond that as it winds over Huashan. Huashan is for the next leg and blog, and all the information about the gorge you want can be found here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Taroko_Gorge.
I would like to tell you more about what was on my mind as I rode the tight and twisting road. Although it is named Central Cross Island Highway, it is narrow, very narrow in places. The road is cut into the side of the gorge, it runs through tunnels and overhangs. Rock walls rise steeply on one side, and fall equally steeply to the river on the other. If it were only two wheeled vehicles travelling this route all would be fairly easy, but you will come across all sizes of transport hustling along. So it gets busy, and with Taiwan's regular rumbles and weather, this road is classed as one of the top ten most dangerous in the world, coming in at number 7 I believe. That sounds bad doesn't it, but don't worry if you travel here, the risk is well worth it as you will see, just be aware and take it easy.
Across the road bridge and then a foot bridge from Silks Place is Hsiang-Te Temple, I would recommend making an early visit to this temple. It will be quiet then, and you can have time to contemplate. You may even come across a trope of Monkey's hanging around, watch them though, they are indeed cheeky and may take a liking to something shinny.
As I walked around in the morning sun the busy start to my journey was on my mind. I felt like I had been on the go non stop and rushed, today was going to give me a chance to slow down a bit. A chance to go from two wheels to two feet and slow down. My plan was to ride to the Hualien entrance to the park and walk the Shakadang trail.
The Trail is clearly marked and follows the river, on my visit some of the trail was impassable due to the river flooding and washing it away. This worked to my benefit though as it was easy to get to the actual river bed dip my toes, and get some special and unique shots.
I think every tourist visiting Taroko stops at The Shrine of the Eternal Spring, not so many make the journey up to the nearby Zen Buddhist Temple. It is at this Temple and across a rope bridge you can visit a shrine to all the men who died building the Central Cross Island Highway. Brave the bridge and ring the bell whilst giving a thought to those men who made it possible to enjoy this amazing place.
The gorge truly is breathtaking at times, scary at others and will always be one of my favourite places in the world, not just Taiwan. Make a visit there, spend some time walking the trails and enjoying nature. Don't go looking, go there to experience the moment, that is my best piece of advice when travelling. So often we neglect to actually be there at that moment, and that is what this day of my journey was about. It was a timely reminder to be in the moment of this experience as much as I could be, that I was doing something special and I was allowed to enjoy it as well as document it.
I had one last night at Silks Place before a long leg over Huashan where the road climbs to 3660+ meters before arriving at Sun Moon Lake and The Lalu.
Hopefully you are enjoying this journey with me, feel free to let me know and ask questions should you wish too. So next time the ride to Sun Moon Lake.
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Love to all...
One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.