Monday, February 8, 2010

away to the mountains

Less than a week to Thailand!  While I'm loving my time here in Taiwan, it will be great to see one of the places on my Places To See list and greater still to fulfill one of my dreams of being up close and personal with elephants.

Nevertheless, I am still in love with the natural beauty that exists in some areas of Taiwan.  When wandering around the dirty, chaotic streets of the cities one tends to forget how the country is surrounded by mountains, forests, and sea.

My friend picked me up in a rental car on Sunday and we drove to Shei-Pei National Park, about a 2.5 hour drive from Hsinchu.  It was quite an adventure; especially driving up the winding mountain roads.  Some of them had been damaged in recent years by landslides due to earthquakes or heavy rainfall during typhoons.  At certain points along the way, the route was muddy, gravel-like, and pretty narrow-minus guard rails.  If this isn't enough to spike up the anxiety- on the opposite side of the road the threat of immense boulders cascading down the mountainside is an ever-present danger..

I had a wonderful time (though I will admit to praying for our lives occasionally).   Along the way we passed by a few aborignal villages and the house-arrest residence of Chang Hsueh-Liang (famous Chinese Warlord) who kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek (former "Iron-fisted" President of Taiwan). We visited a lovely hot spring at the end of the day located nearby.

We hiked around for a couple of hours on one of the trails within the vast park and had a lovely time, complete with a small scale swinging bridge.:)  At one point I felt a little hot and dizzy due to the intense elevation but the trip was spectacular and well worth anything uncomfortable that transpired.  Though some people may prefer clear, perfect, sunny days for scenic mountain viewing, I loved the misty, cloudy look that prevailed during our trip.  It made the place seem more mysterious and magical.

It was sad leaving, knowing I'll probably never be back to visit the same spot again but I know there are many more beautiful places to discover during my stay here.










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