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Taroko Gorge

In the morning we packed up our things out of the dorm and were taken to our private room. It was absolutely amazing! No locks unfortunately, and the walls were literally made out of Japanese papper, but the fungsue was fantastic! The wonderfully comfortable futon bed (in Japan futons are on the ground, not on metal sofas) that had a white misquote net around it like a princess bed (more for decoration than something you'd see out of a jungle hospital), and carved wooden hangings, and japanese paintings, and woven chairs, and above all else, air conditioning! The dorm was not air conditioned, and it was a miserable kind of muggy hot.

After moving all our stuff Yachen, the hostel owner, told us that we could rent scooters hassle free and with a discount at the shop she is affiliated with, so this morning we got up fairly early to explore the city a bit on the way to rent a motor scooter!

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It was pretty much ridiculously easy to rent the scooter. Origionally I said I wanted my own to drive since it was only going to cost about $14 for 24 hours, but then the shock on Joe's face and the short questioning he gave me totally mad me not want to. He kept asking me if I wanted to drive first, and so I just started walking with my helmet to the gas station where we had to fill the tank up. Thats the one thing they are sticklers about in Taiwan, everyone has helmets. At the station I explained that maybe I'd drive later, and we left it at that, or at least I thought we did.

On the scooter ride to Taroko Gorge!

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That building is either the Buddhist hospital or college. They are right next to each other, so its hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure I saw the Kanji for college on a sign outside the building, but we were on a bike at the time.

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As we left the city Joe decided that we needed sunglasses for protection. So he pulls into a gas station and I practically have to drag him away from the shop door trying to explain to him that it wasn't a convenience store. He was convinced that he could just take a look, but the guy was in a business suit and had no merchandise in his store whatsoever. This, started the griping. Then we went to the next place where he thought goggles might be sold, and it was just a car repair shop. They said to head back into town, or at least thats what we inferred since we saw the point, but didn't understand the words. Finally, I'm about to cry with how much Joe is pulling me around about this sun glass thing. “Joe! The guy said that there are no shops this way, can we please just go!” We had already gotten a really late start, it was already almost 1pm. I didn't want to fuck around anylonger when he finally found a store with sunglasses (right next to the car repair shop, but in the opposite way the guy pointed). So we bought our sunglasses, and we were once again on the road, but this time, I had no hopes of ever getting ot the gorge.

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This is Joe's favorite factory, like something out of a Final Fantasy video game.

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Entrance to the Gorge, I guess we made it. And I also guess that Joe would say that we made it there because I stopped desiring the outcome and simply let what happens happen. Sad, that I have to let go of hope before I can achieve any goal or aspiration. But, moving on.

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It was seriously the craziest beautiful blue we had ever seen in nature.

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We parked the bike at the tourist center under construction and decided to do a quick hike up the first part of the trail b/c Joe really wanted to go over this rope bridge:

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This is the tourist center:

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And this is our first stop on the hike, the Bell Tower:

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Then we went a little further to try and see a waterfall next to a temple. But the next temple we made it to wasn't the one with the waterfall, and according to the map we would have a long ways to go if we wanted to walk to the waterfall temple, if the waterfall temple was on this hike at all, so we turned back and hopped on the bike. Joe kept insisting that I drive, and I kept asking him if he disliked it. “No, I love it.” He would tell me. And so I would respond, “Then since you love it, and I don't want to do it, why don't we just keep things the way they are?” He didn't want me to feel trapped again like I did on the continental US trip and hate him for always driving me around. I had to enplane to him that it wan't the motorcycle, it was him. ; ) Well, I think it goes without saying, but I'll write it anyways, that there is a big difference between riding for months on the back of a motorcycle into the middle of nowhere and taking a day trip into the gorge before heading back into town. Also, I wanted to point out, the best time for me to take a try at it was not in the windy roads of a national park folloing the curvature of the mountains as they flow into the gorge. To top it off, we were going down a really steep hill to get back to the main road from the tourist center and that pretty much sealed the no for me.

The next stop on our journey, was the waterfall temple! We weren't at it, but across the gorge from is, which may have been the better spot to appreciate the temple anyways.

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Then we noticed people crossing a bride and walking in tunnels along the rocks near the temple, so we followed in suit.

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This shrine was made for all the people who lost their life building the roads through the gorge. It was done as a military effort while the Japanese were occupying the island, and many many people were killed by rockslides, floods, and tunnel cave-ins.

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An unnatural looking mouth to a fresh water spring:

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This is the fresh water spring that feeds the waterfall from behind the temple:

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Remember in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the German boy drinks from the lake and then falls in and gets sucked into the tubes?
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And in the pagoda next to the temple Joe and I did the first 8 sides of the circular Shokaimin from Master Yang taught to us. We have no video of this because we did it together very quickly trying to avoid becoming a tourist attraction. Near the end I saw a few people get some still shots off, but other than that, we were in the clear. Then we kinda rushed out of there and hopped back on the bike.

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Joe was disappointed here b/c the rope bridge was closed. Moving forward some more, the dangerous driving habits the busses have of going in your lane when they go around a curve, got worse. Now we were down to only one lane around some pretty scary looking curves protected by those circular mirrors that let you know when death was approaching. Joe thought it would be a good idea for a Taiwanese horror film to be based on when the busses become possessed and come after you. Everyone would know what we were talking about. And that only makes it scarier the next time they are on the road an a bus tries to run into them or run them off the road. At one point Joe even had to slam on the breaks and lean us into the guard rail as the bus drove almost straight into us. I was really thinking that the tail end of the bus was going to at least brush up against us, but thankfully Joe stopped before we got any further into the turn. BTW, heres a video of us driving through the gorge:

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Joe loved this pillar and thought of a world some day in the future when all the metal has been stripped away from the bridges and all that is left are these cracked and plant decorated pillars standing for unknown reasons in the midst of the rushing river gorge.

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It began to rain, and steadily that rain got harder, so we booked it home as fast as we could. At the hostel we noticed that our shirts and faces were covered in a layer of black. Gross, it was time for a shower.

The rain had stopped so for dinner we thought we would try and find the fruit and vegetable market. We got lost several times and ended up driving all the way to the park on the coast that had some really cool statues light up and people breakdancing out in the square just next to a line of carnival booths where you can play arcade games or shoot balloons for prizes and get carrni food. Joe played 3 games of shoot the balloons, 2 times with the rifle, and once with the hand gun. I think he switched to the hand gun only because the Taiwanese kid next to us was hitting every balloon with his hand gun, and Joe was getting about 75%. Joe ended up winning a set of Pikachu pockets on a string that you can hang on you wall and put small trinkets inside. He said that he won them for me, but I wasn't in the “win something for me at the carnival” mood, so I told him that I didn't like Pikachu. It was a dick move, I know. But it just drives me crazy how we can fight all week, then one night in a natural hot spring and everything is okay again. I agree that we had fun at the time, and we shouldn't let our bickering get in the way of the hot spring, but I just thought that the carnival was the wrong setting for us, and it made me more irritable than I should have been.

Posted by - Rain 05:48

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EPIC gorge!

by laurr

Dude, are you online? You seriously just posted this according to my email, so you should totally skype with me, but I have laryngitis, so maybe you can talk, and I can listen!

by - Rain

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