Thursday, August 6, 2009
Day 1 - Taroko Gorge
Wow, what a day! Originally, we were supposed to go to the gorge today, on Friday, but because of the incoming typhoon, Mr. Yeh switched it to today. I wouldn't recommend such an intense day of sightseeing on your first day in the country. :)
We got up early and went down to breakfast at the Agora. It is a very big, delicious, easy buffet (you just get them your room number, no tipping allowed). There was a large selection of both western and Asian dishes. But the very best part...they had a serve yourself, completely automated, high end ESPRESSO machine!! We are in heaven. :)
After breakfast, Mr. Lai (Mr. Yeh's associate) picked us up for the trip. We drove out of Taipei, which is mountainous and gorgeous and headed for the east coast of Taiwan. The first half of the 3 hour drive is highway and fairly straight. Well, then you hit the coast and the road becomes crazy. It's built on the side of a 4,000 foot tall range of mountains. And it turns like crazy. Like CRAZY. I was very nauseous as we hadn't even been in the country for 12 hours by this time and I was still recovering from the flight.
However, you simply cannot imagine the beauty. The mountains are covered in lush tropical vegetation and the cliffs are breathtaking. After a long time on the coast, we finally reached Taroko Gorge. The gorge is simply phenomenal. I bet I said "wow" a hundred times today. Unfortunately, due to the impending typhoon, many of the trails were closed off. But we got to drive about 10 miles into the gorge and it's SO amazing. If you are planning on coming here soon, I'd definitely recommend seeing the gorge (if you have a strong stomach for the ride there)! Truly, truly and amazing place and definitely the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life.
At the top of the gorge we stopped at the Taroko Hotel for lunch in this little nook of a restaurant. It was a bit intimidating but Mr. Lai assured me, "no fish" and it was actually very good. We had rice, cabbage, a leafy green, a pork dish, shrimp/egg dish (which I passed on) and a mushroom dish, which we tried to be polite (Todd and I both hate mushrooms). We also had a Chinese flower soup which was very good. Yum.
During lunch, it started to rain, and Mr. Lai realized that the typhoon that was expected tomorrow appeared to be making its way to land early. So we headed back to Taipei. OK, remember the crazy drive I described along the coast earlier? Add to that a typhoon and a driver in a hurry to be back. YIKES. I said Hail Mary's and Our Father's and squeezed Todd's hand white all the way back. Scary, but we did arrive back safe and sound.
We got back to the hotel where we met Joyce and her new son (SO cute) and found out that tomorrow's sightseeing is cancelled due to the typhoon. Fine with us, as at this point we had had about 3 hours of sleep since Monday night.
Last night after I fell asleep (at about 7 pm!) Todd got a call from Samantha at TWCA. She told him that Tessa's birthmom wants to meet us! I'm excited, nervous and emotional all in one. What a fabulous gift!
Today, we are going to brave the storm and explore the area on foot a little bit.
Jake & Sara...we'll be buying souvenirs for you two!! We love you SO much and are missing you tons. Be good for grandma. Soon, we'll all be together. LOVE YOU!