A Travellerspoint blog

The Cliffs

Back on the bike! We had a late start this morning as usual, so we ran out to the 7-11 and got us some yogurt, bread rolls, and 100% juice blend boxes, then rented our scooter around noon again so we would have it for this afternoon and for tomorrow morning. Today's agenda, to make it up the coast this time towards the cliffs, and then head back towards town stopping at the Taroko Gorge if we still had some time before dark.

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The cliffs ended up being amazing! And the drive was windy and exciting just like HW 1 in California, so I'm really glad I talked Joe into not skipping the cliffs just because yesterday's drive down the coast wasn't as good as the gorge. In fact, the cliffs were so good, Joe gave them the honor of preforming the only other form he ever created, Warrior Vanquishes 2 Spirits. (The only other location that was so amazing to have Joe want to preform on of his own, was Bryce Canyon.)

In practice, it can be done as a single person form, or a 3 person form. While he was creating the form I would stand in as the Taikuando fighter, and Justin was Mui Tai.

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Along the coast there were sometimes 2 tunnels, and the one closest to the water was usually the one roped off as being dangerous. We wanted to take a stop and look at the old tunnel, and we found this rail ripped and bent hanging over the side of the cliff, as if to tell us why this tunnel may not have been the safest place to drive your car. So...

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I like to call this one my modern art my accident:

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Caption at the museum in my head:
What does your perception imagine is going on in the picture above?

Look how dirty our faces got just by driving for a few hours. Joe looks like he's been working in a mine.

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Cop face:

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Demonstration of highway safety:

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Then we got about as far as we believed the cliffs to have gone after we hit a long stretch of normal straight road next to a hilly shore, so it was time to get back to the gorge! The hostel owner told us that there used to be a hot spring that flowed right into the gorge that people could visit and swim in, but after the typhoon of 2005 they deemed the pathway to the hot spring too dangerous for tourists. However, she said that it is really easy to hop the fences blocking the stairs so she has been there several times since, and it is really nice because you usually have the place all to yourself since you can get arrested for trespassing. So of course, Joe needs to swim in it. The last hot spring he got to go into was at Yellowstone (I just wrote Yellowspring instead of Yellowstone). It was this hot spring that forced us to reschedule my appointment for a week later to get my cast off my broken arm, and this spring that caused us to sleep on the softest grass ever that turned out to have an industrial sprinkler system, and this spring that forced me to call my sister Brittany and tell her that I broke up with Joe and now he is being a huge bum about it b/c I was bringing down his hot spring high. So... I was not going to protest to Joe that we shouldn't break the law b/c its only a hot spring. But, it was a bit further down the gorge than we made it last time, so if we were going to make it there before night fall, we really had to book it.

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We passed up everything we stopped at our first time, and realized that we made really good time to a point we had never seen yet. So we calmed down a bit and allowed ourselves to take some still shots. At this bridge we ran into an ABT who wanted to know if he took a pic of us, if we would do the same for him. Then we got to talking and it turned out he was also traveling to the hot spring. Oh well, so much for privacy.

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We ended up chilling out at this bridge checking out its pagoda and different views of the gorge a bit to let him get ahead of us just in case he only wanted to see the hot spring, and not actually get in, so by the time we got there, maybe he might already be gone. That, or we would have the awkward task of getting naked in front of someone already covered by running currents of water.

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When we got to the bridge named after the hot spring, we weren't sure if this was the right place. But Joe parked the bike and we wondered a little ways into the tunnel to see the sign that was outside one of the tunnel's ventilation doorways. The sign said, in several different languages so you couldn't play the innocent foreigner, that this was once the path to the hot spring but it is now condemned and anyone found trespassing would be finned $250 for first time offenders, then more for your second offense, and then over $1,000 for your third offense with the possibility of jail time. So... we headed down the stairs. We walked all the way down maybe 3 or 4 stories to a small building that people used to use to shower off in and lock up their clothes and shoes. Then we curved around a bend and had to climb back up about half way to a rope bridge. The stairs were mostly okay as long as you were mindful that they were hit my a typhoon, but the bridge, I was getting cold feet. But then we saw that the kid we met wasn't at the hot spring, but 4 other people, 2 of whom looked like they may have been cancer patients because they were bald and the 2 women with them carried them from the cold river to the hot spring, then back again which looked like some sort of natural heeling treatment. So I figured, if they could make it across, then I guess the bridge was safe enough.

At the hot spring the 2 women said hello to us in Chinese, and seemed okay with us being there, but kinda disappointed at the same time. (I knew the feeling) Joe took off his shirt, and I took off my pants, but that was as far as we were going for the moment. One of the women had a swimsuit, but everyone else was going into the spring in a t-shirt and caprices. Then we noticed that the 2 bald people were women monks with the 6 tots on the top of their heads. They were meditating in the smoking hot water that was closed off from the cold river water by circles of rocks, and then they would occasionally be carried from the hot water and plunged straight into the cold river water usually under this one rapid that formed a bit of a waterfall, and their face never changed from calm meditation.

To get to the area the hot spring was flowing into the river where the 4 women were hanging out you had to climb down about 4 or 6 steps on this rope ladder, but the woman in the t-shirt motioned for us to check out the cave that was on the same level we were on, so we decided to go there first. It was a little cave with a hot spring waterfall that formed into a bath!

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That was Joe trying to dip his feet into the pure, undiluted hot spring. It was scalding! I could barley get my toe wet and was even sweeting just being in the little cave.

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We realized that we couldn't handle the heat, so we headed back to the little rope bridge, and I got off some shots of the area, and one shot of the monks when they weren't looking. I knew it was rude to take pictures of them meditating, but I figured that as long as they didn't know about it then it wouldn't be disruptive. They saw me move around to the other side of where they were and take pictures of the gorge, but the moment I turned around to come back, they were pointing at the camera, and freaking out. “Do you speak Chinese?” the woman in the swim suit asked. “A little” Joe answered. She started speaking in rapid Chinese, and Joe obviously couldn't fallow along. “Do you speak Japanese?” Joe nudged me, “What?” “She is talking to you in Japanese.” “No she's not.” “Do you speak Japanese?” I heard it that time, but I could barley grasp what she was trying to say. “I can speak a little Japanese, but speak slowly.” Slowly she started talking to me in Japanese, and I didn't recognize a singe word. Shashin = picture, tote = take, stop = yamate, please = kudasai, simple words that I know, and ones that she should have mentioned, but I didn't catch a single one. I used them when I explained to her that I was taking pictures of the water, and that I would not take pictures of them, and she seemed to agree with this. The monks joined in on agreeing with me that it was okay for me to take pictures of the water, but not of them. And I kept telling them that I understood, but they kept telling me over and over again with Chinese words Joe didn't catch, and Japanese words I didn't know either, only that the woman who spoke Japanese would agree with what I said let me know that I understood her sign language. But they wouldn't let it go, even after I put the camera away, so I started to get a little upset, especially since I was going to Japan next week and didn't even recognize a word this woman was saying to me. “I understand, do you? Do you understand what I am saying?” I think the woman got the hint that I wasn't appreciating her judging me, even though she was right, I knew she had no way of knowing I got off a shot of them, and now I was really sorry that I did. It wasn't something that I was planning on like something maniacal that I knew I shouldn't do, but something like if a Chinese person came to France and saw a bunch of priests in a river baptizing someone, they would want to take pictures. Look at this strange cultural thing I saw that I'd like to remember. They wouldn't do it when the priest was looking not to be sneaky, but to be respectful that they hare holding a ceremony not a show. Anyways, I wasn't sad too see them start to pack up after about 15 more minutes to say the least. I would have felt bad to interrupt their spiritual clenching ritual if they were real monks, but after seeing the desperate need and anger about the camera in the one monks eyes, I felt that she was more self righteous than anything else. The other monk I felt bad for because she never broke meditation to yell at us for doing something we hadn't even done in their eyes. I don't even think she would have minded if she did see us get off a shot or two. It may have hurt her feelings to be on display if we were like the paparazzi, but I think even then all she would do would be hold up a hand and shake her head slowly, then maybe hold her hands in a prayer when she saw that we had stopped, and to go really far, maybe even bow to show how gracious she was for us following her wishes.

Anyways, they changed into their light indigo/ powered blue monk clothes and they were about to head up the stone stairs that you had to use a rope to climb up because the stairs were now more like a ramp, but they stopped to come back and yell at us again! “Hot Spring! Water! Hot Spring! Water!” The woman who was in the swimsuit earlier yelled as she pointed to the area inside the rock circles, then to the river. Joe and I were moving the rocks that were in place to allow some more of the river water to mix with the hot spring water because it was still way too hot for us to get into, and even though these women were leaving, they still had this idea that this area was theirs. “I understand.” I told her, and I stared at her as she started going off on me in some language that I decided was her version of Japanese. I no nonger felt bad about my Japanese capability because I realized that she was speaking Japanese with a Chinese accent. Her Japanese vocabulary was much vaster than mine, and her grammar was probably fluent, but I had a feeling that in Japan people would still understand me better than her. (Can you tell that I really, really, really disliked these people? It is kinda like when you revere “the cloth” and then you find out that the priest you just met was a child molester. Its not as sever a case obviously, but I was really excited to be in the presence of these hard core monks, then only to discover that even though they shaved their heads and wore the right clothes and ate only enough to survive... they still didn't have it in them. Well, the one did, but thats only 50% of the monks I've met. I was just disillusioned, and I didn't like it).

I gave up and I put the rocks back and we waited for them to get out of eyesight. We watched them cross the rope bridge, and we waited about 5 min. Then, just as we couldn't take it any longer, Joe and I were completely naked. Of course he stripped down to his underwear while the monks were still here and in the water, so he didn't have much to loose, but I refused to piss them off that much even though I disliked them, so I waited to take anything else until they were gone, if they ever left.

But at this time it was already sundown, and I really didn't want to be caught in the dark trying to navigate though typhoon destroyed paths, stairs, and rope bridges. “5 more minutes” Joe must have said at least 3 or 4 times. It sucked that we had to wait for these women to leave before we could use the hot spring, but it was what it was, an we really couldn't soak in the water for very long before dark. As it was, when Joe finally agreed that it was getting late, we had to use the built in spot light on my video camera as a flashlight to guide our way.

Then some speedy night driving through the gorge, and we made it out of the gorge in about 30 minutes. The city was still about another 45 minutes away, but at lest there were street lights now, so the night driving part wasn't so bad anymore. We also got to see Joe's favorite factory at night all light up with security lights, and he couldn't help but think how cool it would be to have watersides through all the tubes paired with a paintball tournament around the factory. (Video games don't make peole more violent, they just warp our concept of reality.)

Posted by - Rain 06:22

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