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East Coast of Taiwan (花蓮台東)

Being a Taiwanese, it is so embarassed to say that I haven't visited Taroko Gorge while even some of my American friends mention it to me. Therefore, I always eager to visit Hualien (花蓮) or specifically Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園). During my previous vacation in Taiwan, my sister and her family kindly planed a trip and companied me to east coast of Taiwan. It was a great trip although it made everyone exhuasted at the end of trip. Moreover, after this short visit, I definitely recommend Taroko Gorge to everyone although I didn't get chance to explore its beauty throughly yet.

Heading to our destination from Kaohsiung city via boat in the Zuoying's Lotus pond (高雄左營,蓮池潭)?  Not really. I am just kidding.
We took the Southern Cross-Island Highway (南橫公路) toward the east.  Due to the restriction of time, we didn't really get off the car for hiking although many trails on the way east. Also, you can easily find out many Taiwan cypress. Covered with grass or planus, it does look aged to me. Haha~

The Southern Cross-Island Highway connects Kaohsiung (高雄) and Taidong (台東) and goes under the Central Mountain Range (中央山脈). The highest point Yakou  with height 2722 meters above the sea at the entrance of Taguanshan Tunnel (大關山隧道). Unfortunatelly, this tunnel is wet all year long due to the water drops in the tunnel. I guess here is a good spot to watch sunrise; however, it's quite windy and chilly here. Interestingly, you probably don't need to worry to get warm since there are vendors selling hot coffee and taiwanese tempura with soup! Well, I don't guarantee though.

Standing on the observation platform right before the entrance of tunnel, you can easily catch the beauty of Taiwan mountains. The characters of mountains in Taiwan are quite different from the ones in US I have seen. Taiwan's mountains looks to me more beautiful and mellow. How do you think?

Between Lidao (利稻) and Wulu (霧鹿), there are many natural hot springs. If you pay a close attention, you will see the smoke coming out from the rock. But I don't really know if it is available for people to enjoy those natural hot spring in the canoyon though. However, there is one simple hot spring pool, which were originally constructed by the highway workers for leisure purpose and is consisted of 6 small pools (so it is called "Liu-Kou" 六口溫泉). But be careful that the temperature of the water in these pools are quite high.

The stalactite is developed and attached to the rock on the mountain next to the Xinwuleu river (新武呂溪). Look at those colorful rocks and running water. What a beautiful scene!

We stayed at the Chef Spa Hotel (天龍飯店) for a night. We visited their hot spring spa early so we were quite lucky to enjoy the whole hot spring spa ourselves. Luckily, we even saw Urocissa caerulea (台灣藍鵲) and Megalaima oorti (五色鳥) here. Next to this hotel, there is Tianlong Suspension Bridge (天龍吊橋) across the Wulu Canyon (霧鹿峽谷). Being here, you definitely want to challenge yourself walking through this suspension bridge and enjoy the view of canyon on the bridge.    

This is the view from the bridge. Isn't the scenary beautiful and impressive? The water keeps working hardly to develop such a dizzyingly deep canyon. On the way to Taroko, we stopped by a well-known mountain but I forgot its name. This is the bird view of the valley of Hualian and Taitung. The life here seems so simple and relax so I like this view so much. 
The east entrance of Central Cross-Island Highway (中橫公路). This was the only impression I had before this trip since I have seen the picture of this entrance many times! Now, it's not just a picture but the one I took!!      
This is the Sakadan trail (沙卡檔步道,或稱神秘谷步道). What do you see from this picture? They seem to me the ants walking around. I was told that it will lead us to a place to have fun in water. My nephews were so excited since they eagered from the begining of this trip to get here. I am definitely interested in seeing these natural made scene though.
It is not difficult to tell how clear the Sakadan river (沙卡檔溪) is. The marble is washed by the water and its disolving power make the water blue or green color under the sunlight. There are not, I guess, many clear rivers like this in Taiwan although it's not as impressived as before nowadays, my sister said. But you know what. There are many fishes and even shrimp in the water and you can even swim with them. See, three happy fishes!! (The picture was taken by my relative.)  How can I resist the call of clear water? The water is pretty cold; however, eventually, I still got in the water swimming and having fun. Look at those beautiful texture of rocks.

Swallow's Grotto (燕子口). Here is famous since many swallows gather here during the spring or fall season.

The Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲龍洞). I definitely recommand this to everyone. On this trail, you can easily see the cliffs, which is giant enough to make you dizzy.  It's said that the rocks or marble here are the most acient  rocks in Taiwan and it was seen more than 200 million years ago on the bottom of ocean and were uplift due to the compression of two plates. Amazingly, this activity is still on and hence it might be uplift even higher and higher.        Chang Chun Shrine (長春祠) is built to memory the people who died in the construction of Central Cross-Island Highway.
Take Suao-Hualien Highway (蘇花公路) to Suao (蘇澳) and then head home. It's definitely a long drive. Constructed next to the Pacific Ocean (太平洋), this highway also brings a lot of surprises to us. It's quite pity that there is lack of scenic spots even though great views are everywhere along the highway.


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