Thursday, January 3

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 5 Taroko Gorge Scootering

[ continued from Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 5 Tzu Chi on the way to Taroko Gorge ]

It started drizzling lightly whilst we were having our second afternoon lunch. Luckily it stopped after our meal and so we quickly got on the scooter again, hoping the weather would hold out as we started our journey ascending Taroko Gorge.

This is the entrance to the road that leads up the Gorge. This is also the  East-West Road that passes through the central mountain range and links up the East Coast of Taiwan to the West Coast. You can turn right after passing this entrance to get to the Taroko National Park HQ. A few of the trails in the Gorge require that you get a pass from either the Taroko National Park HQ or the police station nearby, or both.

First stop for us was this old disused bridge.

Scootering up the Taroko Gorge is probably more fun than other forms of transportation as you can really feel the wind in your face and stop anywhere you want to have a photoshoot.

Closed tunnel entrance. One of the many on this trip due to the recent typhoons in 2011.

There is a dam halfway up, here there is a larger expanse of Bluish Coloured water. As if the marble from the Gorge had melted into the water. I just think there is a lot of copper in the rocks here.

We actually only had a couple of hours left in the afternoon. After the time consuming detour to Tzu Chi HQ, we did not have much time to do a proper trail walk. Good thing too as for the better trails you need to apply for a mountain pass in advance and the authorities are quite strict on this. This bridge goes to the awesome Jhuili Old Trail and Cliffs which we hiked the following year. More on that in a future post where we travel with family again to the Taroko Gorge.

Going up the road along the Taroko Gorge. The best time to come is after some heavy rains as the water level will rise up the Gorge making it look more magnificent. Not much water this visit in October.

[ Taroko means "magnificent and beautiful" in the Truku language of the Truku indigenous tribe. Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. On seeing the magnificent scene, he cried "Taroko!". And so it became the name of the place ]

This was the beginning of the Tunnel on Nine turns, closed for renovations. Another victim of the recent typhoon.

The Bridge of the Kind Mother (慈母橋) , another one of the many bridges that span the Gorge.

A couple of small trickling waterfalls which are much nicer during the rainy season.

I found this small little bridge more fun. Not more than 8 people at any one time on this suspension bridge. You have to lower your head when entering or risk hitting your forehead like me.

River carving out the Gorge. As you probably guess this picture was taken from the bridge.

Another part of the Gorge.

Finally we were reaching a little village/town called Tianxiang (天祥) at the top of the Gorge. Right before Tianxiang there is a small trail off the road, probably only accessible if you are scootering or cycling as there is no parking for larger vehicles. We parked our scooter and walked down the rocky trail to the river!

Thinking man pose time. You can hear the roar of the water coming down the Gorge at this location.

There was nothing much at Tianxiang when we got there. Just a lot of tourist buses and a big hotel. There is a row of restaurants here you can have a meal but there was nothing special so we just did a quick pit stop at the loo. We tried going up the road a bit more after Tiansiang but apparently the road was closed off. Seems like the typhoon really damaged a lot of the highway.

On the way down we stopped to take this quick pic at Swallow's Grotto. It was getting late and no more tourists from China walking around and making noise which was kind of nice. Didn't seem like the season for swallows though.

A recent rockfall. If you are not scootering or cycling, you will get issued with a white helmet to wear when entering the Taroko National Park / Gorge areas. Rockfalls are really frequent here.

Wild Boar Carvings.
On our way down it was getting dark, but we decided to brave the failing sunlight and detour upwards from the main road to the Leader Village Hotel. Lots of interesting carvings at this place.

[It is at an area Bulowan meaning “echo,” which used to be a tribal village of the Taroko aborigines, has attracted more attention in recent years. It is 8 km from the entrance of Tarako, 179.5 km from the eastern end of Central Cross-Island Highway, and 2 km from a fork located beside the bank of the Liwu River.]

Tree sculpture with loofas and another with some carvings.

This place actually consists of a main display lobby with storyboards and displays of artwork and history of the Taroko tribe that lives in this area. There is also a restaurant and a big field with tribal style chalets where you can stay for the night.

Very nicely decorated loo.

Another short distance downhill we did another stop at a temple. As it was dark and no one about, we just broke into level 2 by ourselves and took a pic of this golden buddha statue.

Then it was a night scootering back to a beach side night market in Hualien for dinner and even later supper too.

[ continue scootering at Taiwan Trip Day 5 Nanbin Night Market Hualien ]
  1. Not sure if my post was sent because i had an interrupted internet connection. I have a few questions about Scootering to Taroko.

    We will be going end of Dec. I am not sure is it too cold to scooter there? Is the roads dangerous and windy? We are still skeptical in scootering there as not much information found. Is it more convenient doing that?

    My hubby is holding Malaysia Licence, are we able to rent a scooter there? 125cc ones.

    Hope you are able to answer my doubts.

    Thank you! Really enjoyed reading ur blog.

    1. Yes it will be too cold to scooter in December I guess with day time temperatures of ~<15degrees middle of taiwan winter. Also you would probably need an international license to drive or scooter legally. For just Msia license in Malay, you would probably need to ask around a bit, should be able to find a shop that's happy to rent to you. However Taiwan road system is American so everything is opposite and takes a bit of getting used to. There's only one road up the gorge but you would need a GPS to guide you through the town.

      Yes road is dangerous (that is what contributes to the fun of scootering). Sometimes can have rockfalls and lots of big tour buses. Google youtube scooter video, some people have posted their ride up. If you go off the road sometimes is quite a STEEP drop down.

      Yes I would say scootering IS the most convenient way for getting around small towns in Taiwan. No need to wait around and can stop anywhere to take pictures or buy street-side food.

      There is a tourist bus that goes up Taroko Gorge as well which you could take.

      Tune in as I will be updating with my second trip there and the exciting "cliff" trek.


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