Welcome back to the wonderful world of Taiwan! It gets much prettier, and the photos are much clearer now that I have found a suitable film camera. I took another shot with on the Facebook marketplace with an untested camera, hoping that it would work once I put some batteries in it, and it did! However, I can’t seem to turn off the automatic time stamp, so all these photos say they are from 1987. Maybe it adds to the vintage vibe.
Our adventure this weekend took place in花蓮 (Hualien), a coastal county known for its striking natural beauty. After about a 3 hour train ride south from Taipei, we stayed the night in Hualien City which had an amazing and lively night market as well as live music. The next day we arose early to enter Taroko National Park, featuring a massive gorge full of tunnels, bridges, and top-notch sightseeing. Above you can see one of the vantage points from 九曲洞, or the Tunnel of Nine Turns.
You can see the 立霧溪 (Liwu River), winding through the gorge. The color of the water here is very bright and rich with minerals. The way the river has carved through the rock over time forms wavy walls that are hard not to stare at.
The narrowness of this section of the gorge is quite evident, as well as the immensity of its steep sides. You can also make out one of the viewing platforms that was cut through the rock. You must stay inside these tunnels because rocks often fall and can kill you in an instant.
Last picture of 九曲洞, looking towards the entrance of the tunnel. We were lucky to have perfect weather that day. No rain, mostly sunny, but still plenty of clouds to appreciate as they flow over the tops of the canyon.
Our next stop was 布洛灣 (Buluowan), a terrace reached after a climb to a higher elevation in the gorge, giving you a better view of the mountain tops. We met this nice little doggy on top of the terrace. It is also home to a visitor center with many exhibits detailing the indigenous history of this region.
Before the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the first half of the 20th century, the Truku tribe settled in the gorge and lived communally through the utilization of hunting and livestock. It was one of the last regions of Taiwan where indigenous people could still live without the threat of colonizers taking their lives and land, due to the ruggedness of this landscape.
From the visitor center you can take a short walk over to the suspension bridge that takes you all the way across the gorge from 153 meters above. It is quite a breathtaking experience, but the children scream and cry because it is so high up. The wind is also much stronger up there.
Got a nice lady to take a picture of all of us on the bridge. Shoutout to John, Dan, Min, Will, and Mark.
Our last stop, but definitely not the least, was the 白楊 (Baiyang) trail. At the trailhead was a giant group of monkeys, probably looking for food. The park’s rules strictly prohibit this because the monkeys will likely ask for more and not be very polite about it. It has always been my dream to meet wild monkeys, so I was in awe.
The day quickly turned to night, and we headed back to our hotel. The next day, me and two of the pals took a trip up to a beach called清水 (Qingshui), which means “clear water”. They were not wrong about that one! Some of the clearest and brightest blue water I have ever seen. The cliffs in the background of the beach are also quite magnificent, especially with the clouds rolling over them. We ended up renting some paddleboards and exploring around the bay a bit. A relaxing end to one of the most beautiful weekends I’ve ever experienced!