Friday, 15 August 2008

Central-Cross and Taroko (July 2008)

My friend Lawrence and I had initially planned to ride over the Southern-Cross Highway and then up the east coast to Taroko. However, we had to change our plans at the last minute due to a typhoon hitting Taiwan a day or so before we planned to set off. As the Southern-Cross was impassable, we therefore went directly over the Central-Cross Highway. This route is usually very busy on a Sunday morning, but on this occasion it seemed that the typhoon had scared most locals away. As a result, we had the road largely to ourselves.

This landslide was the only real evidence that there had been a typhoon a day or two earlier. We were delayed for about an hour here, but after that we had no further problems.

This local man had ridden down from Hsinchu in the early hours of the morning and was suffering the effects of his early start. He'd already fallen off his bike once near Puli when he fell sleep!

At the top of Hehuanshan with Lawrence and the sleepy Taiwanese guy.

My attempt at nature photography.

A view taken from the sacred tree on the Central-Cross Highway.

More typhoon damage.

Never drink this beer. It's bloody awful!

After giving Lawrence time to recover from his hangover, we headed into the gorge for a bit of hiking. We took the Shakadang trail, which boasts fantastic places to swim all along it.

The Shakadang trail begins at this bridge.

How's this for a natural swimming pool!

Large numbers of butterflies were also visible along the trail.

In the afternoon, we rode south from Hualian along the east coast. On the way back, we stopped at this small temple just off Highway 11.

This is a view taken from the temple looking back towards Hualian across the Hualian River.

Heading back over the Central-Cross Highway, the weather remained absolutely gorgeous.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Hehuan Shan, Taroko and the East Coast (July 2008)

With clear skies forecast island wide, I decided to take advantage of the excellent weather and head over to the east coast for a couple of days. I left Taichung (台中) at 5:00 in the morning and after breakfast at Chingjing (清境), I continued along the Central-Cross Highway (中橫公路) towards Hehuanshan (合歡山).

As you can see, the weather on top of Hehuanshan (合歡山) was stunning. I therefore went on a short hike and took the following pictures.

The beautiful weather continued as I headed east towards Taroko (太魯閣).

The Liwu River (立霧溪) just as it meets the Xipan Dam (溪畔水壩)in Taroko Gorge (太魯閣).

The following pictures were taken on the Baiyang Trail (白楊步道), which begins just after Tianxiang (天祥) if you're heading west from the gorge.

The trail passes through a series of tunnels before emerging here at the Baiyang Waterfall (白楊瀑布).

After the waterfall, the trail continues a short distance through another tunnel before emerging at the "Water Curtain Cave".

The entrance to the cave.

Inside the cave, it's wise to wear a raincoat. Otherwise, you'll end up drenched like I did!

If you look closely at the rock face towards the left of the picture, you'll see a cave. This is where you emerge if you walk through the "Water Curtain Cave". The trail used to continue further along this path, but now it's closed as apparently it's dangerous.

There's only enough space for bicycles to squeeze through the entrance to this trail. My BMW therefore had to wait in the car park!

After spending the morning in the gorge, I decided to have a ride down the east coast. This picture was taken on route 193 which heads south from Hualian (花蓮) and passes through the East Coast Rift Valley (花東縱谷).

This is a picture taken from national highway 11甲, which connects route 193 with the coastal road.

The fabulous east coast highway number 11.

I was just about to take out the explosives from my panniers when, much to my disappointment, I saw this sign!

This was taken from a great little coffee shop at Baqi (芭崎), also on highway 11.

Back on route 193 again heading towards Qixingtan (七星潭).