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.

     The second development period was from 1956 to 1960 for war preparation, transporting economic goods from the east to the west, and offering jobs to retired service personal. In 1949, Chiang Kaishek retreated with his troops to Taiwan from China after defeats at the hands of the Red Army. Some of his troops left their families in China and were alone in Taiwan. It caused some headache problems and tensions for Chiang's power and the society due to their family seperatiom. Chiang Kaishek had his son Chiang Chingkuo lead his troop in constructing this highway. It was to easy the troops' home sicks in order to reduce the tensions in the society. It employed more than 10,000 soldiers and spending more than NT $ 400 millions (US$ 10 millions) in 1960.   

Liwu River is along the highway which eroded and formed Taroko Gorge for millions of years.  
One of the water falls in Taroko National Park  
What does the rock look like? Most people think it looks like a frog. The pavilion is just like a crown sits on the frog.  This pavilion is built in memory of Chiang Chingkuo's mother.  
Cimu Bridge (Motherly Devotion Bridge) which is named by Chiang Chingkuo to in memory of all mothers. 

After this bridge was finished, Chiang Chinnkuo refused to use his name for this bridge as politics did in Taiwan at the time.   
The massive marble is the metamorphosis of limestone through millions of years.  

Due to the erosion of Liwu River, these massive marbles cliffs have many different forms. According to the geologic survey, Taroko Gorge is still growing in height each year.    
Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail (Jiuqudong): 2 KM long--This photo was taken in 2008.
    During the second constructed period (1956-1960,) this old highway was built without any machinery all by hand. The veterans caved it out with their chisels or dynamites. You can see the chisel traces on the wall. You also can see three old paths which come across on this trail in three different periods-- the old aboriginal hunting trail, Japanese period trail, and the current tail.  But, as you can see, the old highway is too narrow and dangerous. It only allows one way traffic to pass and that has hindered the traffic flows. Therefore, the government constructed a 1,220 meter long tunnel next to the trail to improve the traffic congestion problem in 1996. The old highway became a scenic walking trail. Unfortunately, there were several Chinese tourists injured or deaths because of the falling rocks during last January. The park decided to close this trail to insure the public safety. You can see the huge fallen rocks on the roadside in this picture. It is pity for its visitors.
Updated on Oct 26. 2011: The park has just finished a FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) walkway/canopy which can bear a 40kg rock falling from 20 meter high on the Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail. So, people can enjoy its gorgeous view and experience its dangerous atmosphere again.
According the park survey, the average frequency of rock falling is 3.6 times per day.

 Rumors: The passengers were required to switch the bus which only allowed to drive on the old highway when they entered the park. Also the skinny and the fat passengers were assigned for seating. The heavy people sat on the wall side and the lighter people sat on the cliff side. So The weight of the bus won't lean and fall off the cliff. The drivers were required to be skillful.  
Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)
     Before the highway was under constructed, Chiang Chingkuo had consulted with foreign engineers for this massive and difficult plan. He received the answer, "it is impossible to build the highway due to its geological situation...." Chiang was unhappy with this answer and said. "if they don't want to do it, then we make the road ourselves." So he and his team stared to build this road using their hands, chisels, and dynamites. But at the same time, they also encountered tremendous problems like lack of materials, typhoons, and sickness. In 1958, Chiang had his team to build this shrine to commemorate the deaths during contruction and to wish the project would be completed successfully.  There were 226 deaths and more than 700 veterans injured during the 1956-1960 construction.
The Marble Trail to the Eternal Spring Shrine: there are 380 steps to Guanyin Cave.  It is cool during the Summer, a good way to escape the summer heat. 
There was a pavilion on the right hand side of the photo. It was destroyed by a landslide. 

Swallow Grotto : It used to have a lot of swallow around this area; however, those swallows have gone due to the heavy traffic. Their natural habitats were disturb by the intrusion of human beings.    

The Old Highway Trail on the right and New Highway Tunnel on the left
Rest Area at Swallow Grotto 
Jinheng Park 

Statue of Chief Engineer Jin Heng who scarified his life during the construction   
The famous landmark: Indian Chief on the right side at the river
What do you think about this sign?
     After Taiwan government opened up its tourism market to China in 2008, there were 3-4 thousands Chinese tourists visited this national park every day. The weathering situation and unstable rocks has created constant rocks falling. Unfortunately, the falling rocks have always hit  Chinese tourists and caused deaths and injuries. Therefore, the government asked all Chinese bus tours or any bus tours to wear a helmet which is offered free by the national park headquarters. But, most of Chinese tourists didn't return the helmet back and keep the helmet as a souvenir.
Bulouwan Visitor Center
     Buluowan in Taroko Tribe language means Echo. It has two terraces. The  terraces were Taroko tribe habitat places. But the Japanese government forced them to move to cities for monitoring and controlling them. Now the visitor center and the prehistory museum are located at the low terrace.  

Aborigine Sculpture
Trail Conveys Upper and Lower Terraces  

Taroko Prehistory Museum  
An Old Taroko Tribe Woman Weaving Fabric  

Walking Trail Next To Parking Area
Upper Terrace 
Leader Hotel 
The Sculpture in Front of Leader Hotel
I wish I have the opportunity to stay in the hotel to enjoy its tranquility. 


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  2. Updated on Oct 26. 2011: The park has just finished a FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) walkway/canopy which can bear a 40kg rock falling from 20 meter high on the Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail. So, people can enjoy its gorgeous view and experience its dangerous atmosphere again.
    According the park survey, the average frequency of rock falling is 3.6 times per day.


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