I woke up a little restless around 730am. Then 745, and finally 8. It's funny how bad habits carry into vacation sometimes. The bus arrived promptly 20 minutes after 8 and we were off to pick up the other tourists just after. We switched buses and besides the Spaniards that boarded with me from the same hostel I'm not sure if anyone else carried over. Maybe because we needed an English speaking guide?
I quickly started to brush off my lame excuse for Spanish (everything being in the present tense. Very basic stuff) and became friends quite easily. They were a group of 5. Two of them a couple, the other three young women. All of them recently attended a wedding and took their own honeymoon to see more of the island. The rest of the bus was either Chinese tourists or Taiwanese from another region.
The whole tour situation was a little strange for me. I'd always been the type to avoid buses or overpay for a guide. Seeing as I was in a country where I knew two words of the language, and even less symbols. That aside, a 25 dollar tour would be straight given I only had 12 hours left in the town that day.
The first stop we made was a crowd favorite. Cliffs that stretched along side a rocky beach. The ridge lines were massive. We all got off, set up out digital devices and found a spot to cop some snaps. 20 minutes and we had to jet. Time was ticking.
The roads within the Gorge was some impressive engineering. For real. We followed a constructed road that laced itself inside of the valleys and all the way through to the other side of Taiwan. Of course it would be hours if we went through the entire path so we didn't venture too far in. But still a 48 seater was able to navigate through that? Salute.
Our second stop was an outlook that included the High mountains of the Gorge and a multi-colored temple that was nested into the mountainside. The turquoise water flowed endlessly from the top of the mountain into the light gray sediment and sand colored boulders.
Afterwards we hit another outlook. It was cool but I mean we didn't get to hear the history or significance of the spot. None of the English speakers picked up anything the guide was telling us. I was a little annoyed. And it was no doubt that we were the butt of the joke, lol. The man spoke Shakespearean verses to the Chinese, spreading the word of Taroko but left us with two words "follow me" . No big deal though, I should know some Mandarin. I'm in they're country after all.
At one point in the excursion we had to wear hardhats. We all looked pretty ridiculous but followed orders just in case a rock skipped down and struck us. There was a long roped bridge that we saw along the way. It was up maybe 200 feet above the ground. The Spaniards and I joked that even if we fell we would be safe because of the hats.
Lunch was pretty sweet. But not food, really. We were of course given the option of eating at the only option for food. Ahhh they got us. It was definitely a tourist trap. We saw the prices and we're instantly repulsed at paying NT 220 (roughly $7 USD). We could have scored some cheaper eats elsewhere in Taiwan for sure (the day before I ate a bowl of pho for around 2 bucks). The cool part was hanging out with the Spaniards and the lady we met from Holland. We were all English speakers so it only made sense that we should hangout. We began to share our stories with each other. Two ladies were sisters, one working as a physical therapist in Paris and the other a video producer working at a news station in London. The other a Brazilian born Spaniard working in various arts including various types of Spanish dancing and is currently working on being an actress. We then talked about where we've been so far on our journey and what was next. The woman from Holland (I hope she forgives me for forgetting her name!) had pretty much lived everywhere lol. She quit her occupation as an editor after being a bit fed up a bit (we all know that feeling) and decided to travel to Australia, Tonga, and then winding up here in Taiwan. She was quite friendly and offered her opinion on why she loved Taiwan so much but had no interest in visiting the mainland. We finished up our less-than-desirable lunch and transitioned back to the bus.
There's nothing like meeting people abroad. People that I vibe with. You find this happiness, an empathetic joy for the person that they are becoming because of the journey. Yeah, in some way I may be out there taking pictures for a portfolio and seeing the sights. But then I come across these wonderful people that had the same idea as me. Like, I'm gonna go to Taiwan, I don't know but two words of the language and I'm gonna travel to their National Park and see some dope shit maybe learn something about the place, witness the beauty of the country. I was talking with some people at my hostel. A chick from Sweden, a dude from Georgia(USA) a dude from Austria, and another young woman from Holland, all of them hitchhiked around the town. Hitchhiked. You know how many damn horror flicks there are in that genre alone. To myself I though there is no way I'm doing that. But I mean that's cool that they did and I respect that they trust humans enough. In that way. That's what you leave with. Meeting weird fools like yourself when you travel abroad. People willing to take some chances. There's nothing in the world like it.
We took a hike up through one of the trails and experienced some great views. We got pretty high up but a few of us wished we would have done more. Our surroundings were so ripe and the foliage was dense.
Our last stop was a beach. It was simple and it smelled of old fish. Just after I realized the smell there was a major catch down towards the surf. Two big Pokémon looking fish were being hauled in by some locals. Everyone crowded around snapping pics frantically as if the Messiah himself washed onto shore and needed the flash from their smartphone to gain the energy to walk. Besides that short spectacle the beach was a little dim. A sobering end to an eventful day.
Once we arrived back at the train station it was a bitter good bye. We exchanged information and promised that if we were ever in each other's neighborhood that we would say hi. I really enjoyed the company. Besides having to work on my Spanish the group was very warm and that's something I needed after spending a few days feelinga bit lonesome. Hasta luego Helena, Kris, and Caro!