Friday, July 15, 2011
One week ago my apartment was on the verge of being a bit too crowded. Now, it's empty and silent. I'm always sad to see people go. This time wasn't so bad, because I know I will see them in just a few weeks, but there is always a strange quietness after everyone is gone.
Our last week was really enjoyable. We drove up the east coast on Wednesday night, with every seat in our car filled. I must admit it was quite cramped. The drive from Kaohsiung to Hualien is about 5 hours, but with five people in the car it definitely seemed longer. Finally, around midnight we arrived at the convent where we were staying.
The next morning everyone was up early for a river hike through the Taroko Gorge National Park. I, unfortunately, had to sit this one out, but I've already done it twice, so it wasn't too big of a deal. That river hike is probably one of my favorite things to do in all of Taiwan. The seclusion of the pristine river, enclosed by tall green mountains on all sides really makes you feel as if you are the only person in the world. You can walk on for hours this way until you reach a bend in the river that is impassible. However, off to the right there are about 4 or 5 waterfalls that you can climb up, or just hang at the bottom cooling off in the ice cold pools.
Here are some photos of their hike.
The next day we did the Taroko Gorge National Park drive. You enter the park on the east coast, just north of Hualien city, and follow the road up, up, up into the mountains. Although we weren't going all the way up into the the 3000+ meter mountains, we did spend a few hours leisurely driving through the marble gorges, stopping off occasionally for some photo opportunities or a nice walk. We were saddened though that much of the road, which once offered a lovely scenic drive, was now directed into big tunnels cutting though the mountains. While these tunnels may be more convenient than the previously narrow, winding road that skirted the edge of the cliffs (see photo on left) they really take away a lot of the beautiful views and much of the excitement of driving through the Taroko Gorges.
After leaving the Gorges we drove along the east coast going south, making our way back to Kending. We literally spent the entire day in the car, although only being four of us now, it wasn't too bad. Driving the coast during the day is also an event in itself, because the views are absolutely amazing. I must say that I really don't mind it one bit.
Jonathan's Uncle Paul and his family joined us in Kending on Saturday, and we finished up the vacation with some great family time with them. It was nice to have everyone together relaxing and enjoying the quietness of our little house near the ocean. That will probably be one of the last weekends we will spend in that house, and I'm glad we made it a memorable one.