Saturday, March 17, 2012

Treasure Hunt in Hualien

     Before my sister-in-law returning to the United States, we promised her that we would take her Taiwan jade hunting. Also our friend in Hualien knew she was in Taiwan and insisted to invite her to Hualien for dinner. So we planed a 3 day 2 night trip to Hualien, 4 days prior to their flight departure back to Wisconsin.    
     When my husband asked his sister "when would you guys prefer to leave the next morning?" They said "8:15-ish." I learned the new word quickly and liked this answer very much. I hoped my husband would take my **-ish opinion in the future. Ish means aound 15 minutes after 8. It could be earlier or will probable be later. 
The view from Chingjing looked at Wushe Township  
      We left before 8:15-wish and took my favor route which is the highest and the most beautiful highway in Taiwan to Hualien on a leisure drive. We stopped at Chingjing which is one of the high mountain villages. Its altitude is around 1,700~2,100 meters high. There is a sheep farm which attracts many visitors to see the wool cutting show each year. It is also famous for the sea of clouds, fresh air, and different style B&B's (Bed & Breakfast.) There will be another article for this area in the future. 

We entered the Taroko National Park area. This was the must stop place
for taking the photo and enjoyed the view. The view was gorgeous on
that day. The clouds with the Easter Blue sky 
stayed behind the mountains
which made the outline of the mountain range more clear.  
From our stop looking back towards the highway:
Hehuan main peak, highway No14, and high mountain bamboo grass. 
We arrived at the Hehuan lodge area.
The sky started to change its pattern.  
What do you see in this photo?
     The photo was taken nearby the Swallow Grottoes in the Taroko National Park when we were waiting for a traffic control point to open. I waited under a tunnel in case of any landslides or rocks falling due to the result of constant raining on the east coast. I turned the photo 90 degree and made it more interesting at this angle.     
Awaiting for the road to be opened
     There was a gigantic rock blocking the road. A lot of cars were waiting for it to be cleared. Everyone was asked to go back to their vehicles because in fifteen minutes they were going to blow up the rock with dynamite. I worried if the big explosion would cause more landslides or falling rocks? It was a scary and quite interesting experience to me.    
At our friend's B&B
After rain, snails came out and crawled on the road.
We worried about driving over and killing them. 
     According to my past experiences staying at my friend's Bed & Breakfast, there would be a pair of nightingale birds singing all night long. Sometimes, I tried to stop them singing during the night but it always failed. This time they were unusual quiet. They only sang in the beginning of the night. I though they couldn't handle the raining and cold weather, so they went home early. I did hope so.  
Looking for the Taiwan jade in the Baibao river. 
     The weather had not really cleared up. It was not a good weather pattern for finding jade in the river because we might encounter heavy rain in the upper river which would cause flooding in the lower part of the river. It would be dangerous for this activity. Anyways, we decided to take the risk. 
     The weather was not warm and the river was a little bit higher than normal. But it was not really a problem to play in the water. The only thing we were afraid of was the river temperature. Well, I had to be brave to test the temperature since I was the youngest in our group. I was not sure if it was nice to be young at this point. Sure, the temperature was cold but it was alright after my feet were in the water for a while. 
A group of visitors were from Singapore. 
     My husband told me that "this trip is designed for you because you are the one who enjoy the jade hunting the most." Well, what could I say. There was a local resident who was hunting for jade and could define different kinds of rocks very well. We asked him to check our rocks which we picked from the river. Most were not  Taiwan jade. Only some transparent tiny pieces were the Taiwanese jade. It was disappointing news. He started selling his Taiwanese jades to us. We bought some from him at a bargain.   
Driving through the water 
     My husband decided to drive our car across the river. I worried about the water would damage our car. He asked me to trust him and he proved there was no problem for our car. 
Water on Rocks 
     I decided to walk across the river since my pants were already wet. The deepest water I walked in reached up to my knees so my pants were soaked. 
Enjoying interacting with the locals
Polishing the jade 
     We came to this small hut because there was a rock polishing service. We used to pay some fee and someone would help us to polish our jade. But this time was a little bit difference than before. The gentleman in the photo rented the equipment and polished his own rocks. We had a short conversation with people there and were ready for our next stop. By the way the locals offered us a free lunch but we passed. Such hospitality in Taiwan toward westerners is the norm.
Don't forget your lovely wife was behind. 
     Because it rained for several days, the soil was saturated with a lot of water. There were some waterfalls along the riverside. We were ready for our next stop. Let's go!

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