I lied! No getting back onto the regular journal upload schedule, that would be for people who can actually handle time management! I’m kidding of course, I can handle my time here pretty well I’d say, and I’ll prove it with today’s recap of my amazing trip to Taiwan’s famous Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁峡谷.
Our classes were off on the coming Monday 10/10 for Taiwan’s National Day 国庆日, so a group of six decided we wanted to take our long weekend to stay in Hualien 花莲. While others were out celebrating the formation of Taiwan, our group wanted what became our motto— 练习练习 Practice —and we would get it form whoever could stand to talk to us.
Which happened to be many people. Just on our train there, two of our group mates were kept awake the whole 3-hour ride by an older woman and her mother. They were simply interested in why a group of foreigners were making their way away from Taipei (that was the reason for a lot of the people who stopped to chat with us). They were kind enough to give us the number of a man who could show us around the city if we so desired.
The thought of a private chauffeur interested us. Why take a bus tour of the gorge where things would be scheduled and timed, when we could charter a taxi to take us to the places we wanted to go. So that’s exactly what we did.
Our driver was a friendly man, who had retired ten years ago and moved to Hualien from Taipei six years ago where he started a business touring groups around the gorge. We talked his ear off perhaps a bit more than we should have ( 练习练习！), but as a driver he knew the game. His service once was a daily endeavor, touring Europeans, Japanese, Koreans, and more. Unfortunately, due to covid he hasn’t seen the numbers of customers he used to— only 2 or 3 tours a day, he told us. So, because of our enthusiasm and his warm heart, he extended our tour to take us to the beach. Were we searched the beach for the coolest stones in the rain. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.
It was a weekend thinking of the native cultures and peoples of Taiwan as well as those who came to the island years after. The Gorge is named after the Taroko people who had immigrated to the area after 2004. Both Hualien and the Gorge are steeped in a native atmosphere—that admittedly at times feels a bit exhibitionist due to the neon signs plastered about the night market peddling “best authentic Indigenous sausage!”
Much of the indigenous culture in the gorge stands side by side impressive modern constructions such as the indigenous museum and hand-made gift shop next to the biggest suspension bridge in the gorge. While it is nice to see the ingenuity and have the ability to appreciate the nature from such a unique angle, It would have been equally nice to be as easily directed to the museum.
But I’m not disappointed in the gorge one bit. It was an experience to last a lifetime, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to have done it. Until next time! 拜拜~