A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Pagoda at Tienhsang, Taroko Gorge

The wilder-ness...

Chinese stuff, Taroko Gorge

Gorge road

Path above marble walls

Taroko road

Near Swallow caves

Mean looking red-eyed snake

Gorge opens out a bit

Eternal Spring Shrines

Eternal Spring and Shrine

So far in Taiwan, all the other countryside places I have been were in 'National Scenic Areas', Taroko Gorge is my first Taiwanese National Park. I've been in a lot of the great Gorges of the world (including the awesome non-gorge Grand Canyon), and I doubt any will beat China's Tiger Leaping Gorge, but Taroko Gorge is very impressive. Its as long, high and narrow as some of the best, but its special beauty lies in that a lot of it is marble, very pretty.

All in all, give me World Heritage Sights and National Parks when I'm travelling nowadays, and I'm very happy. This is no doubt a sign of middle age (or maturity as I prefer to call it), as my criteria 20 years ago was for wild bars with dancing on the tables, cheap and tasty street food, and Australian women.

I got up early and took a bus as far up the Gorge as buses go. I then walked for a fair few miles trying to find the trailheads to some paths I wanted to walk, only to discover an enormous landslide had obliterated them completely and the road with it, hence why I had to go the long way round to get here in the first place. So, mindful of the signs warning of killer snakes and bees, I walked all the way back down the Gorge to the entrance. With side trails this was about 25 kms, mostly on the one road, and my legs don't half ache as a result. It was great though, the weather held, and it was very dramatic and pretty, though not always that pleasant in the tunnels when a bus went through. I walked through an entertaining bit of gridlock that took a while to clear; the road is very narrow in places with some hairy drops, I can't imagine how mad and unpleasant it must all be at the weekend. I had a nice chat with a Thai civil servant on the way back to town as well, always good to be able to talk to someone. I will be back tomorrow to the Gorge to 'finish' it off, and then plan to base myself in Taipei for day trips for the rest of my time in Taiwan.

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