Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fantastic Freaks

The Freaks decided that it was time to take a second road trip. This one was planned in honor of Michelle's birthday. The boys planned our itinerary and the girls just went along for the ride. Tim and Ria came up to Taichung on Friday night, arriving well past 2am. We woke up relatively early and went off to pick up the van that we thought we had reserved the night before. Turns out, the owner of the rental company did not want to rent to us because we were foreign. After much Googling and a few phone calls we found a company that would rent us a van. We hopped back on the scooters and headed across town. 

A few hours past schedule we were on the road and headed to Puli to pick up Karlis and his friend Chip. 
Finally on the road!

After picking up the last two Freaks we started our journey up the mountains. It was then that we found out that our road trip would take us across the Central Cross Highway, the tallest road in Taiwan, (read more about it here: to Hualien, on the East Coast. This highway is very famous in Taiwan because it took a massive feat of engineering to construct it. It is also a highway that closes down quite a bit due to landslides. It is also absolutely beautiful. We made many stops on our trip across the mountains. 

Cingjing Farm: We stopped here because Tim wanted to see if he could get a paragliding flight in (which he did, a very short one though). We also stopped because the scenery is absolutely stunning
This was at a random stop we made on the side of the road. You can see a little bit of a lake in the valley of the mountains, as well as lots of little farms and the road that we drove up on. 

The food market at Cingjing Farm

Climbing higher and higher into the mountains. At this point we were driving in the clouds. 

Taroko National Park: We stopped at the entrance to Taroko National Park and had ourselves a dance party to the soundtrack of The Beatles, much to the surprise and entertainment of the Taiwanese people parked in the lot.

Hehuanshan Mountain: After we tired ourselves out with dancing we decided to continue up the road a bit further and stop at Hehuanshan Mountain to watch the sunset. The mountain was not too terribly high so we ran up it and found ourselves in a sea of clouds. Words can do no justice to how beautiful it was on top of the mountain. It felt like heaven. 
Literally in the clouds

The stragglers hiking up

My friends are so weird and awesome.

I mean come on...

Dinner: We continued driving through the mountains until we came to the only restaurant we could find that was open. The food was amazing and the tea was some of the best I have had in Taiwan. Dinner was filled with lots of laughter, loud conversations and more stares from local Taiwanese people. 
Spicy pork with cabbage and rice, peach tea and an apple

The Night: Our original plan was to camp somewhere inside of Taroko, but we didn't really plan that through because no one thought to bring any food with us and there is no place to buy food inside of the park after dark. So we created an alternative plan, which was to camp on the beach outside of Hualien. We searched for the perfect camping spot for upwards of an hour, but it was absolutely worth it. We found a deserted beach and pitched up our tent. It was the perfect end to a fantastic day.
Tim building our campfire 

The view from the tent looking out onto the ocean

How can you have not have an amazing day when you wake up to this?

Off to explore Taroko: After packing up our campsite and eating breakfast we headed back into Taroko. We made a quick stop on the way to frolic through a field of flowers and take a few pictures.

Failed jumping picture

Taroko National Park: This is one of my favorite places I have been to in Taiwan. The grandeur of this place simply cannot be beat. We spent most of the day driving around from place to place all the while blasting Beatles music. Read more about Taroko here:
The river inside of the park. The water was unnaturally, beautifully blue

This Freak decided to go for a swim

Absolutely beautiful 

After leaving Hualien it was decided that the easiest way to get everyone home was to drive through southern Taiwan, through Taitung, across the tip of Taiwan, up through Kaohsiung and finally to Taichung. We rolled back into Taichung around 3 am on Monday morning. Angela and I had to be at work at 8am. We spent Monday being completely exhausted but very, very happy. It was the road trip to beat all other road far.  
*A big thanks and shout out to Ria-Leen for letting me use some of her pictures!

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