HUALIEN (yesterday - day 4)
Arrived late at night, after several u-turns, 2 instruction queries and driving along dizzying narrow roads with troughs of water like flumes that line every street - in Hualien. Dinner was on a hillside before that - and apparently it was hard to navigate to and from. But a stunning view, and family style food that was very very good, and like most other cultures than our own, with heads and feet still attached. I'm eating vegetarian on the trip - with some fish sprinkled in. This is apparently unusual - at least for my guide, and every day he asks and points towards me... "shall I order a special Vegetarian meal for you?" For some reason it's not as complicated for Mark Blacknell - who is a vegetarian... but for me, since it was a surprise, our guide hasn't gotten used to the idea that I TOO need to stay away from mystery meat.
Anyhow... I digress... that drive was long but fun w/ my comrades. The hotel is obviously new and geared towards cycling tourism, and has an Aegan theme with marble and white walls. A beautiful place to lay our heads after a brief walk to the sea... which is yards away.
Well yards like maybe 50 yards? Anyhow... the waves ARE HUGE, and it's a shore break that would warn the craziest of surfers. I make the mistake in the morning of opening up the wind tunnel causing window... and while skyping my husband a rainstorm comes through... and I notice later that all things within a yard of said window... have puddles in or on or around them.
I'm making this a long story... so here is the nutshell while I have some wireless connection to tell it. A "GIANT SHOP" - like they all are - is nearby. It's raining hard, and we go there to get bikes. Then we ride in torrential rain along the seashore into the city of Hualien and back This is what we saw, and it was photographed between heavy heavy rain and wind gusts that made me feel I was riding at 14% grade up a hill. We were all smiles - as it was funny, fun, and beautiful in many parts, the ocean was seriously... I'm going to use George's word from Seinfield... FIERCE!
Checking out the merchandising of Topeak and Cateye on the walls of the shop. Making sure I represent Cupertino in my jersey from Vance.
(the owner... and yes I know him :-) which is a local joke btw.)
Self portrait - the rain is super hard, and it's difficult to catch this.
I'm so stoked I have a water proof camera!
Took a side trip up a paver/tile strewn path
to an abandoned who-knows-what (old military spot or former park)
Pathway leaves seawall to cut under a huge factory - perhaps cement plant,
lined with Escalade sized granite chunks - and flooding low spots.
Here Mark Blacknell is riding through stream of runoff.
Now that I've ridden several of these paths, and attended the opening ceremony with the officials that are driven to create these recreational paradises, some opinions have come to mind. It's a paradox of the tourism bureau promoting this and photo opportunities, parks and paths that have finished areas with marble... and signage - are right next to under construction, ugly, third world Country looking areas that stink of the city dump. Saw a rat running across the street and into my path just as I was pondering this contrast. Beautiful "Giant Cycling Stations" juxtapositioned (is that a word?), to enormous debri. The main constant is friendly people, and perfect temperatures.
DROVE TO TAROKO
Well we scurried off from the Bay View Hotel - to drive to Taroko Gorge. This is truly the most beautiful breath taking place I have ever seen in my life. And it deserves it's own blog entry. This picture shows where I'm typing from right now. I'm the center cabin- the room on the right.
If for any reason I die in the typhoon's torrential downpour that cause a flash flood today as we ride down the Gorge's canyon dangerously narrow roads and stunning tunnels. Just know that I'm so incredibly happy, and am in the most beautiful place in the world - and that I am lucky!