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Published: June 30th 2006
some people thought nothing of the macaques...
The wife and I hopped on a flight from Taipei to Kaoshiung on impulse, and because it was so cheap (she being a flight attendant). When got out of the taxi at Sungshan domestic airport here in Taipei, there was a plane leaving in 15 minutes. It was a clear day and I had a window seat overlooking the Taiwan's Central Mountain Range. It was close to 100 degrees outside, a the blue skies seemed to be frying the clouds into cotton balls of white phosphorous in the sky. Rivers and puffs of clouds glided through the massive valleys of mountain peaks, which seemed to rip up the atmosphere with their jagged summits.
40 minutes later we began out descent, entering a yellow smog zone of napalm scooter and factory exhaust. Three distinct layers of atmosphere were visible during out descent: pure mountain top blue, brown-yellow haze, and the dusty street air. I also discerned a clear difference in the water color of the sea; black rivers fed a puke-greenish coastline while 20 waves from the city the South China Sea gleamed deep blue. The winds brought on some turbulence as we approached the runway, and the landing was a
This alpha momma coaxed a 5-year old Taiwanese girl into donating the last of her banana to them
We stayed in the "Splendor Hotel," which is part of the 85-story Chien Tai building in downtown Kaoshuing. True luxury. We checked in and then for 650 NT apiece we joined the buffet lunch, replete with fresh seafood and sashimi, all kinds of meat and salad, and most importantly, a Taiwan draft beer tap.
After allowing that sumtuous stuff to digest, we took a taxi to Tsai (Wood) Mountain, which is a genuine urban oasis in a city of 1.5 million. I'm not sure what the square kilometerage is of the park, but it's enough to work up a sweat and smell thick tropical foliage. We had heard tha this park was inhabited by a multitude of macaques, and with camera in hand, my hopes were up.
It was extremely hot outside and the forest canopy did little to regulate the humidity and heat, unfortunatley. It was so hot, in fact, that when I asked a hiker if she had seen any monkeys, she replied that they "had not been seen in days," -most likely because of the heat. My wife broke a heal on one of her sandals (geared up appropriately, as usual), and
Looking for China
A battleship searches for Chinese subs
we started to head back down the hill. When he took the last turn, I espied a monkey high on a thick branch. He (or she) emitted a few barks and then ran off.
Back into the park. We hiked for about a half an hour, then decided to turn back. On the way back, in almost the same spot, an entire troupe of primates set up camp in a tree and on the steps near the final descent. I hadn't been so close to macaques since Bali, Indonesia. Gorgeous creatures.
After spending about 20 minutes with them, we jumped in a cab and took it to the former British Consulate of Takao (Kaoshiung) which is located on a hill overlooking the sea, which appeared decidedly fresh and healthy compared to the slime-green I discerned from the airplane. A magnificent sunset and a trip to the "famous" Leohe nightmarket followed, topped off by the best full-body massage ($20 US) I've ever had -beating Thailand.
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