Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tour around Taiwan

We left the hotel with Cooper, our driver, and his van. He had spent some time in Texas hence the name. Heading south we drove on excellent highways, many of which were elevated for miles over the valleys. After a local fancy lunch at an educational farm (more like a resort) we went to the Kanshuin Paper Factory where hand made paper is produced. If we had had more time we could have made our own and embellished it. We then stopped at the brand new Chung Tai Chan Temple which has been built by Buddhists and is to be a world site of learning for Buddhism. Opulent, gigantic and expensive are a few words that come to mind.

Next stop was the much older Wen Wu temple overlooking Sun Moon lake. Again the weather didn't help the view. We stayed at the Hotel del Lago on the banks of the lake.

On the drive to Kaohshing we visited the WuChan temple which had collapsed during the 1999 earthquake and looked remarkably intact except that the roof was almost on the ground. Nearby were a few old train engines and a market. Then on to the old Dutch fort which is now the Chikan Tower temple.
Next were the Spring and Autumn pavillions - these twin towers are on the edge of a lake and one enters in the dragon and out the tiger- to do it in reverse would be very bad luck.

We did a small tour on the Love River and then toured the night market which was teeming with people and food stands. We couldn't quite agree on which outdoor food we wanted to eat so opted at the end for the hotel. A little boring, but we have been eating "local" almost the whole trip!

On Saturday we stopped at a small park with a "river running uphill" and followed a small water course that really did look like it was flowing up. A nice park and a great illusion. The next stop was the 8 Arches Bridge. Again a beautiful park on the sea edge and so we crossed the bridge to the rocky island and wandered around - again in a light rain.
Another beautiful park was the Kenting National park at the very bottom of Taiwan. Lovely boardwalks along the edge of the ocean - and the only way to walk as it is all very rough lava.
Our last stop were the Bahsian caves which were inhabited a long time ago, but have now been turned into temples with cemented floors. In Taitung I finally got to hear "Fur Elise" which is played by the garbage trucks, throughout Taiwan it would seem. As people hear the trucks coming they run out with their garbage and stand along the road waiting for it.
Sunday was the last day of our tour and we went to the Taroko gorge. And finally had some sun. And it was spectacular. We only drove in part of the way, but walked a number of sections and were awed by the height and narrowness. I think the pictures say it all.

If you look carefully
you will see me in red.

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