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A Quick Trip to the East Coast, Aug. 20-23, 2004

These pictures were taken on a four day run around the island, staying in Taitung, Hualien, and I-lan. We had perfect weather -- Typhoon Aere nailed the island the day after we left the coast -- but it gave us beautiful, slightly wet, cool, overcast days with rolling clouds and great play of light and shadow.

The mountains roll gently down to the sea as we approach the east coast through the southern cross-island highway.
Housing in a small village along the southeast coast. 
The highway along the coast. The '70' denotes the speed limit in KPH.
The east coast is characterized by numerous rocky, fast-flowing rivers that descend out of the mountains, carving innumerable river valleys.
A flood plain in the mountains.
The first night we stayed at the Bunung Tribe Resort. The Bunung people, who number just 3,400, have erected this resort in an attempt to create job opportunities for their people. The resort also includes nearby hot springs, and features displays of dancing, crafts, and other activities. 
Here an elder of the tribe wishes for a good harvest.
Colorful dancers. 
The road leading to the Bunung Resort in the early morn.
Our guest house at the resort.
A road plunges into the mountains.
The aborigines are famous for wood carving.
The elaborately decorated cafe. The resort is heavy on places to sit and eat, but lighter on things to do. This is a characteristic feature of Taiwanese-style vacations.
Plenty of places to sit and eat....
Beautiful flowers everywhere in Taiwan.
A small town dominated by mountains and a Christian church. The aborigines have been heavily Christianized. 
Breakfast at the resort. 
The hot spring complex. Here my son swims in the cold pool. The east coast is chock full of springs both hot and cold, as well as parks, hiking paths, scenic areas, lakes, and forest reserves. 
A typical hot springs complex. Yet another of the passive recreations so common in Taiwan. Yet things are slowly changing.
Another view. The pools, backed by mountains, were gorgeous.
The steep mountains and swift rivers make infrastructure expansion difficult. Here a bridge spans a river dark with the slate sands that are common to the beaches in the area.
Workman taking their time to construct a wall with native stone, and do it right.
A bridge links a small community with the outside world near the resort.
A crowd awaits a performance at the resort.
A young girl sings for the crowd at Bunung. I am somewhat ambivalent about the kitsch vision of aborigine culture presented here, and the way it plays to local Chinese prejudices about aborigines. Yet, there is no question that the commnity needs employment and economic development. 
The town of Luye on the way into the East Coast Rift Valley. Here the road enters the rift that separates the coastal ranges from the Central Mountain range. The valley runs from here to Hualien.
A view of the east side of the rift valley. There is virtually no industry in the area, with the exception of certain kinds of resource processing. Consequently, agriculture is the main industry. Here a farmer grows rice, betel nut, and in the left corner of the picture, low altitude tea.
Clouds loom over the mountains.
The rift valley highway.
Here is the west side of the rift valley, the central mountain range.
Looking south.
The canonical Taiwan shot. I couldn't resist.
Perfect picture weather.
Light and dark struggle in the mountains.
A "policeman" stands guard. At night fake policemen are supposed to make drivers slow down. Fat chance.
Rain blows up the rift.
A river valley in the distance makes a fine background for a stand of betel nut trees.
The valley floor flattens out as you move north.
Toward evening, crews still hard at work altering nature.
The town of Hualien. We stayed outside here the second night.
Our guest house. As tourism develops in Taiwan, guest houses are popping up everywhere.
Tunghua University against a magnificent mountain backdrop.
Hualien town, full of trees.
North of Hualien the famous Suhua Highway begins. This road, cut into cliffs above the ocean, has had some of the kinks taken out by tunnels in recent years. The dangerous old road can still be seen in many places.
The Suhua Highway crawls along the cliffs to the left. 
The road emerges from a tunnel to the right. This view looks south. 
Between rockfalls and Taiwanese drivers, who cheerfully pass on blind curves, the road can be a risky ride.
The road climbs up.
Gravel plants at a river mouth.
A small town.
Our lunch place.
The port of Suao, where the road ends.
My son tries the beds at our guest house in I-lan
This beautiful place was covered with flowers.
Plants and flowers form a canopy.
A close up of startling beauty.
Leaving I-lan early in the morning, the rising sun limned the mountains perfectly.
I-lan looks like a painting in the early morning.
I-lan town early on Monday morning.
The north coast of Taiwan, still wild. 
Turtle Mountain Island beckons across the water.
As we left I-lan, the coming typhoon sent a rainbow our way. My son marvels from inside our van.
Surf pounds exposed rocks. The rock formations here are utterly fascinating.
A small north coast town.
The mountains come right down to the sea, as if impatient to leap into it.
Rocks tilted at crazy angles.
A beach sheltered by low hills.
The road winds along the coast.
A fishing port nestles against the peaks.
Tombs sprout along a hillside.
This copper mine, now abandoned, was worked by Allied prisoners of war in the 1940s.
A ship gets out ahead of the typhoon.

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