Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day II-- The North-East Coast

     After one good night of rest, we were ready for our 13-day trip around Taiwan. But, according to the weather broadcast, there was a torrential rain warning in the north part of Taiwan. Also, the unusual rain pattern had caused some damaged on the roads and some scenic spots which we were to visit. 
     Our driver called me two days prior to the trip started and gave me a suggestion which was to change our itinerary. He asked me if we could start from the west coast instead of the east coast due to the weather situation. It sounded to be a good idea but it also meant that we had to compromise our hotel reservation, a none refundable cancellation. If the government closed down any transportation methods, it would be another story. Hence, I was not comfortable with the weather situation and also worried about our driver situation. At that point, the only thing I could do was to keep my fingers cross for our trip.  
This was the bus, a 9 passenger mini bus including the driver, that we hired. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

One Day Trip in Taipei with B.M.W

     It was the first day that we started our travel journey in Taiwan. The day before was just a warm-up day for the entire 13 days trip. It was unusual that it rained during this time. Normal, it was a dry season in Oct or Nov. It was not good for our plan because we were going to experience the true Taipei life with B.M.W. ................Wait, don't even think about that we really had a BMW car waiting for us.  
      B.M.W is a transportation system in Taipei for ordinary people, students, or commuters between home and working places.  B represents the bus system or bike,  M is MRT (Municipal Rapid Transit), and W is for walking. It is also a very convenient system for a traveler who is on his or her budget.  You can take a bus or walk to a MRT station. After getting off MRT, you can walk or take a bus to your destination. It offers many bus schedules in many places, especially at tourist spots. MRT starts at 6 AM and closes at 12 PM. The bus system is cooperated with MRT schedule, starting at 6 AM to 12 PM, depending on which bus line you are taking.  After the completion of the MRT system, the traffic congestion situation was improved tremendously.   
In order to having energy for dealing with our schedule, we would need a good breakfast. 

It offered various selections. It was good enough to me 
     Since we were not a typical tour group, we had changed our schedule due to the weather condition. Originally, our first stop was Taipei 101. Its visibility would be bad because of rain. So, we decided to visit National Palace Museum first.  We spent 3 hours in the museum. It seemed too long for us because we were exhausted by just working in the museum. 
The picture was taken by our friend Ted & Anne 
Learning how to take MRT
This photo is distributed by Anne & Ted
Waiting for MRT

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maokong Gondola Ride in Wunshan District, Taipei

     After one day rest for my sister-in-law and her friend, it was time for us to depart to Taipei. We would meet and join other Americans for a 14-day-trip around Taiwan. We decided to take the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) to Taipei. It would save us about 1 and half hour from Taichung to Taipei due to its highest speed up to 300km per hour. Normally, it would take us 2 and half hours from Taichung to Taipei by bus. 
      This was in Wurih station which is in the suburb of Taichung. When the government started this project, its idea was to improve the development of the economic situation and life standards in the urban areas. Thus, it would balance the differences among cities and remote areas. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Warm Welcome to Taiwan

My husband has been inviting his family to Taiwan for 

decades. This day was a very exciting and very important 

day to him and he  couldn't believe that he was going to see

 his sister in Taiwan. It was his dream to host her and other

family members in Taiwan.  Now he had the chance to 

introduce this beautiful island, Taiwan, to her. 

   It took us about 90 mins to drive from Taichung to 

Taoyuan Airport to pick them up. 

It was the first time that my American sister-in-law and her girlfriend visited Taiwan or Asia. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Danger Hidden Behind the Beauty in Taroko National Park

     Most people are attracted by the beautiful scenery; however, the beauty sometimes is deadly. Some foreigners came to Taiwan to visit the Taroko National Park. They drove alone on this highway or hiked alone in the park. Because of unfamiliar with the road condition or the suddenly changing of the weather, they ended up missing or fell off the cliffs.  
     Below pictures were taken by my husband. He went to Hualien by Highway 14 (Nantou County) through Highway 8 (Taroko National Park) when Typhoon Parma was close to Taiwan in 2009. You can see how dangerous it was during the  typhoon season in the mountain areas in Taiwan.
The developed Clouds by Typhoon Parma on Highway 14. The torrential rain would fall soon.  
It was a small waterfall on sunny days. But when it rained , it became a  vast waterfall.
It was no longer as a lovely, calm, and smooth river. 
It looks beautiful but it is also dangerous.  
Water-Small-Rock Fall Only During Heavy Rain 
Waterfalls Appear During Torrential Rain 
When the weather cleared up, it was definitely  gorgeous.  
It looked like a Chinese Landscape Painting. 

These Pictures were taken after the typhoon left. He was on his way back to Taichung. 
A landslide started with small rocks and soils. 

My husband was lucky to be alive. 
After being trapped there for hours, my husband decided to take Suhua Highway (Suao to Hualien--another dangerous road) through Taipei back to Taichung on Friday Night. 
Can you image if the huge rock hit this bus?
After a few months, we drove on this highway, the massive landslide covered the entire highway. 

The highway was forced to be reconstructed on the other side of the road.

Below video clip is taken by unknown tourist who was trapped in the park in Oct of 2011.  

Before you visit Taroko National Park, you should visit the park website for the road or hiking trail conditions. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The magnificent scenic views in Taroko National Park on Highway 8

     Arriving in this area is almost to the end of the highway 8 from the west coast to the east coast. We are entering the most delicate and magnificent section of Highway 8. It is the most well-known scenic spot worldwide in Taiwan. It is not only famous in its marble gorges and cliffs but also its history and its ecology.
     Why is it called Taroko? In fact, Taroko is one of Taiwan indigenous tribes whose ancestor immigrated to this area in the 17th century.  During Japan colonization of Taiwan (1895 to 1945), the Taroko Tribe constant fought with the Japanese government over its splendid natural resources like lumbers and gold for 18 years. In 1914, the Japanese government decided to conquer Taroko tribe for stabilizing this region. The Japanese government started constructing the road from Taroko to Hohuan (partial of Highway 14) in order to transport war supplies and economic goods.  The final and famous war is called the War of Taroko between Japanese and Taroko Tribe after 18 years of fighting.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taiwan's Introduction by BBC News

BBC News conducted a series reports on Taiwan's life, customs, and cultures. It is useful for people who want to visit Taiwan.

The introduction of Taiwan by BBC

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Taiping to Sinshe --Highway 136 turn to County Highway 100

     Because of the typhoon and trade wind effects, the temperature has dropped in Taiwan. It was a nice comfortable breezy day.  My husband and I decided to go for a short ride with his new off-road bike. We left the central Taichung to Taiping (east of Taichung) and our final destination was Sinshe area.   
This is my husband new bike made by CPI.  It is a new model. We just got it one week ago.  
This is my gift from the store owner without any bargaining with her. 
It was cool on my puppy's head.  OF course, I wore it for the ride. 
Due to the screen limitation, the map doesn't cover our entire route. 
      After we entered Taiping, we rode on Highway 136 which also go to Puli, in Nantou County. It is a famous highway for bicyclists and motorcyclists for its winding and hilly road with no a lot of traffic. Along the highway, you can see a lot of fruit trees like banana, tangerine, ...and so on. Also, it is next to stream (creek.) You will see people fishing and kids playing in the water; however, it is extremely dangerous if it rains in the mountain area.  

     The sign indicates that you are entering Toubenken Recreational and Agricultural Area in Taiping District. It shows all the the recreational farms that you can go visit. But, the location of the sign doesn't not function well due to the foliage and the traffic situation. You can't see it well and if you dare to stop to see the sign on the green light, the drivers behind you will welcome you with their horns. This is parts of the driving experiences in Taiwan or one of the government mentalities.  
     Can you scan your destination quickly in 3 seconds? I know we can't. We had to turn around and go back to stop and take the picture. 

      Last time (2010), my husband studied this area map on Google Earth and then took the road on this road sign to go to Sinshe. After 20 minutes later on the road, we were on a scary and horrible ride. We were lost in the mountain area. The roads were small and damaged with tall grasses and trees were over growing the roads. We went through spider webs and he had to keep his hands on brake. My hands were busy to push away the tree branches which would hit us.

     This was what we found in the jungle: an ecology park. This probably cost the taxpayer about NT 2-3 million. 

     Will you turn around and go back on the road that you come from? We didn't turn around. But at some point, we might have to. 
I was very busy taking the pictures and pushed away the leaves. 
          I don't think GPS system is suitable for this area because there are a lot of farm roads that can't be found on any map. Only the locals or farmers know how to go there. Also you have to be aware of the signage system in Taiwan.  When we first got lost, we followed the bicycle trail indicator. We  were led to no where with a jungle like area. We were just lucky enough for we were very brave and adventures to push on. Of course, my husband had to use his compass in his watch to see our orientation.  Finally, we got out of this area. After having our lunch in a coffee restaurant  on the top of the mountain, we talked to the business owner about our trip. He was surprised and amazed that we took the unknown road and  found our way to his restaurant. 
This was the sign that led us to no where.  If you see this sign, please don't trust it. Otherwise, you will end up just like us.
Looking back along the road, the signs are very confusing?
After all this excitement, we came across with this sign: "This is a temporary narrow road. Drive carefully. Big buses, cars, and trucks are not allowed."   
This was the restaurant we ate at and chatted with the owner on our first visit. This time I was in charge of choosing the road to this place and we didn't get lost.  Before we reached here, we had to challenge a very steep hill. This time I didn't have to get off the bike. 

You can see the Taichung Valley from here. 

People like to come here to enjoy the sunset. Of course, they take a different and better road than we did. 

This is a French restaurant.  A hiking trail head is a few meters away. 
      Because of the economic bloom decades ago, people started to enjoy leisure lifestyle in Taiwan. People like to have a cup of coffee or a nice meal with their friends or family in beautiful and remote scenic areas. It encourages the business owners to build coffee shops, restaurants, B&B, ...and so on in the mountain areas. Also the government allowed this to happen. More visitors means more revenue in return for the government; however, it has caused environmental and ecologic damages due to the more road's being constructed in Taiwan.   

Koelreuteria henryi Dummer was named after a British man, A.Henry, discovered in 1912. It originates in Taiwan.   
This is its fruit. Its flower is yellow with the characteristic of  flaming gold.  Now, it is in the blooming season. 

This picture was taken last year.  Looking back at the coffee shops that we stopped at.  
   We were going down a very steep hill at this point.  Our new bike was taking it very well. At the same time I had to hold on to my husband tight. 

     We were arrived in the Sinshe area. These power poles are new with their decorated function. The road is also wider and repaved.  You might think what it is so special in Sinshe. It is famous for its agricultural products around this area. The most famous products are mushrooms and the Flower Festival around Oct. or Nov.  

Taken on Sep 30, 2011
     We stood next to the flower garden field. Obviously, it was just planted with flowers for the coming flower festival on the 2nd of Nov.

     In 1915, the field (60 hectare) was designated for planting sugar canes for research and  modification in order for massive production during the Japanese governing period in Taiwan. After Japan left Taiwan in 1945 till now, it still serves as for the purpose of agricultural research and modification.  In 2005, the agricultural institute planted 30 hectare of various flowers for the purpose of fertilization. It was the first place to plant such massive flowers in Taiwan. The words has spread and it attracted crowds to enjoy the blooming flowers. It bought a great economic return to this isolated small area. It promoted the town to people and the government decided to continue on the event.           

Below photos were taken in 2008.  Each year, it will have different designs and flowers. 

     I still remembered it was on Wendsday. My husband and I rode on our motor scooter. The traffic was so bad and we were also stuck in the traffic as well. Now, the situation has changed. The traffic situation gets better every year but there is still room for improvement.

I and my cute helmet  

     After the ride, as routine we went for my favorite desert shop on the way back to Taichung for shaved ice with sweet processed vegetables like yam, red bean, and taro and pearl which is made of flour. Sooooooooo delicious!