|Nice buffet this morning. Had an omelette made for me, and very unusual tasty pasteries.
Since our hotel was located in the National Park, we didn't have far to go today to see all of the sights. Our first stop was 5 minutes away at Cimu Bridge (Marble bridge ) which was rebuilt after the original all-marble bridge was washed away in the 1990s. Very oriental decorations on the bridge, plus marble covering along the sides. The real reason for the stop was the bend in the gorge below. Another beautiful site in the NP.
It was 7 minutes until we reached the Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail along the gorge. It used to be 1.5 km trail, now it is only 700 m after renovation in 2018. This current trail used to be the highway before they built the new highway and tunnels. We had 45 minutes to walk out and back. We observed beautiful marble rock formations along the cliffs and in the bottom of the gorge. There were markers every 50 m to let you know how far you had to go.
While Jean was taking a picture of me at the marker rock, I almost got hit by a falling rock. I heard a loud sharp noise and from the crowd's reaction, I thought someone had fallen, but it was a rock that fell and hit the side of the tunnel on the way down. Jean thought it sounded like a gunshot. I guess I got lucky.
3 minutes later at Liufang Bridge, we disembarked to climb a viewing platform overlooking the gorge. The U shaped gorge is used for the logo of the NP. We saw the current tunnel and the old narrow one-lane tunnel next to it.
It was suppose to be 10 minutes to the Eternal Spring Shrine, but it took a little longer because of road construction. Alan called the workers holding the stop/go signs, traffic control. The shrine is a memorial to those 226 construction heroes who died building the road system. The road was completed in 1960 and considered at the time the "Miracle Road' according to an old French newsreel. The shrine is located over a waterfall overlooking the gorge. We walked along the bridge and then down stairs to a platform. Inside the cave next to the platform were three Buddhas. The Eternal Spring Shire was under construction/renovation so we were unable to follow the tunnel to the trail out to the shrine itself.
Next was a10 minutes to the Taroko Gateway. It was completed in 1960 as the entryway into Taroko National Park. It is in the same condition as it was in 1960. This was a quick snapshot opportunity.
Our next stop was lunch nearby the Gateway. There was a 7/11 type store and a restaurant available. Jean and I went to the restaurant recommended by Alan. I ordered the beef noodle soup. Jean had a little bit and I finished the rest. It was sloppy but delicious. We sat at a circular table that had a lazy Susan with the Indonesian lady, the Canadian cousins and Doshi from San Francisco. We then all went across the street to a bakery for some traditional Taiwan delicacies for late.
Our last site to see was the Qingshul Cliffs, a 21km stretch of costal cliffs that rise above the sea 800 m. Another quick photo stop to see the vertical precipices of the mountains along which a new road has been built. Alan remembers as a teen going through the old tunnel on the original road. We then left Taroko NP to head back to Taipei.
We took a long and winding road again that was suppose to take an hour and 20 minutes to navigate. However, we ran into a 20 minute delay because of construction. At the bottom of the winding road, we stopped at 3:15 for a WC stop to unwind at the Suzao Service Area. Then back on the road to Taipai with no more stops. Along the way we passed through many long tunnels, including through Hsuehshan Tunnel, the longest tunnel on Taiwan at 13 km (8 miles). Alan showed a Discovery Channel Man Mad Marvels DVD about the construction of the tunnel as we passed through tunnel itself.
We got back into Taipei about 4:40 and made our first stop near Taipei 101 for the family of four's hotel. Then we returned to. the assembly point to catch a van. The Indonesian woman and the Russian girl, Elana went in our van. We were dropped off first.
We entered the Gala Hotel where the receptionist remembered us and welcomed us back. We received a welcome drink while registering. We had the same room as last weekend! We spent the evening doing laundry for the next leg of our trip and ordered a roast beef sandwich with fires to share for dinner.