Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge is one of the jewels of Taiwan. There the Liwu River has carved a gorge through mountain walls made of marble. The scenery is beyond description, and the road that hugs the walls of the gorge is beyond belief.

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Taroko Gorge

We rolled into Hualien early in the afternoon with tropical storm Bilis hot on our heels. Since Taroko might be closed the next day due to the storm, we headed immediately for Taroko Gorge National Park.

The road enters the park in a most otherworldly manner -- one moment your in a small town, the next, in the eerie quite of a vast gorge.

Everyone got out to take pictures.

The first stop on everyone's itinerary is the Eternal Spring Shrine.

Steps lead down to the river, where visitors go to play and then spend money in the gift shops.

The road here, low and overhung by cliffs, offers a foretaste of what is to come.

My father and I walked over to the shrine.

My wife takes a picture of the kids.

My wife took this with the camera my father bought for my son.

The path to the Eternal Spring Shrine.

Looking back toward the parking area and gift shops.

The top of the waterfall.

The twisting of the rocks that formed Taiwan's mountains is graphically on display here.

A view of the path to the Eternal Spring Shrine.

We left the Shrine and headed up the road along the river.

The higher up you go, the more beautiful it gets.

We stopped at a memorial to one of the engineers who died overseeing the construction of the road, killed in a rockfall after an earthquake.

Contrasting studies in gray: rock and water.

Rain on the lens....

Unfortunately, we couldn't go up very high.
Hualien City

One of the famous dust storms of Hualien city obscures the road.

Taipei, Taichung, Hualien -- there's always an accident somewhere.

It was rush hour when we arrived back in Hualien. The cramped downtown is small, and the town offers plenty of wide open spaces. It actually seemed very appealing to me.

Hualien city from our hotel room at the Royal Hotel.

The Royal Hotel.

No matter where you are, gorgeous mountain walls form a stunning backdrop.

The condom shop.

A pool hall in the early morn.

We went out to change money, but the banks were closed, so we visited a morning market instead.

A laundromat.

With everything closed and the storm about to hit, we stayed in, ate dark chocolate, and played cards.

In the evening, we ate at a Sichuan place. My parents gave an exhibition of jitterbugging in response to a group singing karaoke at the top of their lungs.

In the evening I met my hardworking and knowledgeable friend Ryan for beer at the Japanese place. Ryan's aid proved invaluable to us in our foray into Hualien.

Ryan's supernatural girl friend and girl friday Iris -- who speaks perfect English, has great taste in food, runs the Chinese side of their magazine Highway 11, and is generally competent, intelligent, and cute as a button. I am delighted to hear that they are engaged.

The next day we headed down to the park by the beach.

My son caught my father and I scrambling among the rocks.

Early morning, before our departure for Keelung.

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