Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 4 -- Taroko National Park

     It rained hard at night but it was just sprinkling in the morning. I have been to Hualien many times. I knew it would clear up after a shower. So, I was not really worried about the weather situation in Hualien but the road condition and the heavy Chinese tourist flow in Taroko National Park were my major concerns. This would be a leisure day for us so no time constraints. We left our hotel which was in the downtown area of Hualien at 9 Am.   
Our sightseeing spots in the park
This is the famous gate for entering the Tarako National Park from the east. It has been there since 1960. Today the road has been expanded. It will lead you to the park headquarter and also the police station for applying for hiking permit by taking the road to the right.    

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DAY III -- Cemetery Visit and Qixingtan

    Just before we visited Jian Chinxiu Temple, we took a small backside road which also goes to Qixington for stopping at public cemetery area for my sister-in-law. She likes to visit cemeteries when she travels. Our driver was surprised that we asked to stop at the cemetery. 
     There is a cultural difference. Most Taiwanese avoid passing by any cemetery and don't even ask to visit one. Cemetaries are much different in the United States. But for our American's friends, they were not afraid at all and enjoyed the visited. They asked all kind of questions like if it was a family tomb or what the characters on the grave mean, etc. 
     I whispered to the rested spirits, " Sorry, we bother your peace. My friends are just interested in looking at your houses and taking some pictures. I hope you don't mind." I was told to respect human beings and all the spirits when I grew up.  

     This cemetery is different than the west of Taiwan as I know. Some of them are family tombs which heavily used the tiles. It is more luxuries than the west.  In the west, most tombs are individual space with concrete layouts. It might be the geography differences or the residents' cultures and religions. 
There is a Tomb Sweeping Festival on April 5 each year. The descendants will go to their ancestors tombs to clear up the weeds and also pay their respects to their ancestors. But, after the  Tomb Sweeping Festival, the weeds start growing and no body seems care about it anymore until next year. However, it offers the best food resources for the migrant birds and the Gray-faced-Buzzard Hawk. Before they fly back to the northern region, they come to Taiwan as a midway rest stop in April.  After removing and burning the overgrown weeds, small animals, like snakes and rats have no places to hide. That is why it offers the best food resources for the migrant birds. 
A Lion guards the resting spirit and also shows the family's reputation and wealth.  
The above three pictures were contributed by Ann & Ted

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day III--Train Ride from Yilan to Hualien

      Last night, the rain continued. If I didn't have a mission the next day, I might feel it was romantic listening to the sound of the rain falling on the bamboo trees and into the puddles. Today, my main job was to insure that everyone load their suitcases into the bus and find taxi's to transport us to the Luodong Train Station in order to catch the train at 13:26 pm to Sinchen, Hualien on time .  
      Our driver showed up at the villas on time. After we loaded our luggages on the bus, I wished him good luck for driving down the Suhua Highway safely.  Our schedule was free for us to walk around the park this morning. 
The Park Map From Its Official Website 
     The center has 24 hectare lands of traditional Taiwanese architect, Art training, learning center, and visitor area etc.      
A bunches of students standing in the rain to see a dragon dance in front of the Traditional Theater.
The most enjoyment for those kids were buying traditional toys and snacks or DIY (do it yourself) their own souvenirs. In fact, it was not just for kids but also for adult to shop around the Traditional Handicraft Artists Studios of 33 stores along 
the street which hosted the imitated architects of the early 20th century of Taiwan on both sides of the street. It is a great place for travelers to pick up souvenirs for families and friends . 
Definitely Taiwanese which is the name of this compound, offers traditional Taiwanese food, desserts, and snacks.