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Published: March 15th 2011
We took off in a train out to Hualian along the Eastern coast of Taiwan. It was quite the beautiful ride containing amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the countryside. We got to Hualian at about 2 pm and rented 3 scooters between the 5 of us. Needless to say, I had never driven a moped before and the start of our adventure to Taroko Gorge was terrifying, exhilarating and superb. As soon as we got on the highway I felt much more comfortable. You’d be surprised how much power a 125 cc engine has. Hitting a consitant 60 km/h feels about 3 times as fast on a moped. The adrenaline rush was incredible, as we passed by rice fields with the ocean in sight. We started to head up the gorge after about an hour of driving and our surroundings went from hybrid tropical beach farmland to rainforest jungles. We continued to climb through nine different tunnels up a windy wet road. We passed by momentary bits of amazing scenery: incredibly blue water in the roaring river below and sub tropic trees layered over marble cliff walls. We drove about an hour into the gorge and stopped to stay
at a catholic hostel. Outside stray, but friendly animals infested the hostel. Three cats and one pregnant dog that Pat immediately named Spencer.
The next morning Charlotte Pat and I took of from our hostel friends and stopped at different scenic areas, getting out to do some hiking. It was great to get out and hike around most of the day. In the late afternoon we got back to Hualian and drove around the city and the ocean at night.
We headed off to sleep and took a train at 5:30 am to Kenting the next morning. Kenting is the Southern most city (you could hardly call it one) in Taiwan. A surf haven full of beaches, hot springs, and surrounding jungles. Got there at noon, rented scooters and drove around the greater Kenting area, stopping at some scenic beaches. Later in the afternoon we took off for some hot springs that were inland. Tried a 49 C bath that was numbingly hot. They also had a pool with fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet. Definitely a creepy feeling watching these fish creep towards your toes. I wussed out, but managed to try it
a month later in Thailand… We rode back to the hostel with a crazy amount of wind and just walked around the beach at night. Got a chance to dip our feet in the ocean before heading out to Kaohsiung the next morning.
Charlotte headed out on a fast train to the airport as soon as we got into Kaohsiung. She wouldn’t be going back to Ma’anshan to teach, so it was good bye for an indefinite period of time…
Pat and I met up with Mark later in the afternoon and met all of his fellow fullbrighters for dinner and then drinks after.
Pat and I got up the next morning to head with Mark to English Village, where he led some conversation oriented lessons involving restaurant interactions. He teaches mostly late elementary and early middle school students. The students all came in and ordered fake food, paid a fake bill, and were all quite well mannered and polite to my surprise. In the early evening, we headed out to a rock show. I’ve really missed going to shows and it was great to experience some live music.
Mark’s host dad took us the next
morning to some mud hot springs that were an hour and a half outside of Kaohsiung. The “mud” aspect of the hot springs deemed it be murky water full of silt, not sitting in a pool of mud. It was in a private room that you could rent out for a few hours with an outside patio, lounge chairs, two showers, and a cold pool. Afterwards, we had some lunch overlooking the jungle and countryside. Jerry, Mark’s host dad, treated us to the hot springs and lunch. A super friendly guy who really wanted us to just enjoy our time here in Taiwan. Then, back to Mark’s for an epic nap and lounged around for the rest of the day. It was quite the exhaustingly lazy day.
Got up the next morning to wander around most of downtown Kaohsiung with Mark. It’s a pretty industrial polluted, kind of dirty city for Taiwan. We tried to take a cruise on the love river (which I believe may be impossible to inspire any romance), but there weren’t any more boats for the day. Once again, we met up with Mark’s host dad Jerry, this time with his family, and they treated
These are the scooters we rode around in Kenting.
us to some Thai food. After dinner, I went to go get my hair cut with Mark, Pat and Jerry.
After getting my haircut, she massaged by head with a stone using lots of crazy oils, salts, and shampoos for half an hour. It was awesome.
That night I said farewell to Mark, Sam and Pat. I headed out on a bullet train to Taipei and then had a seven-hour layover in Guangzhou. Man I love waiting in Chinese airports, especially for seven hours… and even more especially in Guangzhou! 给力！
Next up, Vietnam...
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