Mike King - WebLog Taiwan 25/01/06
Another action day in the Mike King Taiwan quest.
Today we set off for the East Coast. Last night we already got the hire car set to go and we’re ready to fire away.
This is a pretty big trip so it’s pretty important that we get off to a good start. Of course Maureen had a few things to do like go to the bank, which doesn’t open till 9, but you know Taiwan probably don’t have banks anywhere else so better to be safe than sorry.
Ok 10am and away we go. 45 Minutes into the trip we drive past the umbrella shop and of course we have to go in to see the umbrellas. We only have a mountain range to climb and then the East Coast to conquer, but hey! Umbrellas are important. Then across the road we definitely have to go to the Butterfly Caffee. Very beautiful and very cool having butterflies fly all around. Got some cute shots of Maureen and Liam.
Ok, now we are on the way. We start to hit the mountains and hit some pretty spectacular scenery. Then Maureen informs me that we are going to the Christian retreat at the top of the valley and will be taking a 45 min backtrack to do so. Ok!
Once again this was also a very spectacular place. Shi An San – That is:Holy Mount Zian. This piece of ground is so beautiful that the president of Taiwan at one stage tried to bully the Christians out of this prime piece of land. They underwent a lot of suppression but held their ground and today they flourish and prosper. This place is the back seat of a cascading valley that spans all the way down to the flats of South West Taiwan. No wonder the president tried to take this place.
Ok, so we still have a mountain range to climb. After taking over the wheel for my first encounter of left hand drive Mike King gets the hang and picks up a bit of pace. I did find myself heading towards a couple of entrance gates forgetting that I had Maureen on the other side of the car. Maybe faster with a motorbike but you know, wives can come in handy at times. Now this range is amazing. I have driven the Snowies in Australia a few times and I tell you this climb is impressive. We drive up and up and up and up for hours. Driving past many past land slides now braced with single road access. Road works and reconstruction is a 365 activity on these roads. Some of the roads are now braced up with concrete braced in tunnels. Little Liam loved all the tunnels and finally fell asleep in a winding blissful slumber. WE reached what appeared to be the top of the range and I pulled over for a break. I felt like we were in the middle of a bonsai garden. Straight out of Chinese picture book. The feeling was exhilarating. I pulled out the video for a short scan and couldn’t but help the mouth slip. 2700 metres above sea level. Well that explains up and up all day long.
I forgot to mention that the last 20 of so kilometres of driving was through fairly thick fog. No rain though. We then drove through what appeared to be the final tunnel to cut the cap off the final peak. I think this tunnel was about 300 long and we popped out on the other side. It’s raining and has been for a while. “It’s just here” Maureen said. A hostil that she had stayed in when she was about 18. Luckily it was booked out. Nice place but looked a bit like suitable for the backpacker with smelly socks.
Ok, so we hit the road again and this time starting to get a bit dark and foggy. I was a little concerned left hand drive and about 30 metres visibility, but hey, let’s find a better place. I then let a local overtake and followed his ass down the mountain. I made double speed having someone who new the road to follow. The local then turned off to a little farm on the side but the fog and rain had cleared and the road was suddenly a lot better. We drove through the most amazing tunnels but were starting to wonder about a place to stay. We pulled over and decided to push on. Just around the next corner we hit Wulu. Man! A georgeous hotel carved into the shear face of the road side. Looking over a gorge and with natural hot springs flowing through it and into the hot pool. We checked in a managed to score the double sweet looking over the gorge and large suspension bridge spanning the valley.
Now I feel like I am on holidays. Family time. Bye bye.