Several years ago, I came across Mordeth13′s YouTube channel. M13 is a Canadian living in Taiwan. He popularized motorvlogging, otherwise known as motorcycle video blogging, where he would talk about various subjects while riding a motorcycle around the island.
Through him, I became obsessed over the idea of
環島, or traveling through the country via motorcycle.
Between March 31-April 2, 2015, I got to experience this by visiting Taroko National Park with a travel companion named Jin.
We took a train from Taipei Main Station to Hualien, rented two bikes upon arrival, and immediately headed towards Taroko Gorge. The park was first established by the Japanese empire in 1937. After the KMT took control of the island, the park was abolished until its re-opening in 1986. Thanks Wikipedia, getting me through college and beyond.
Motorcycle rentals were simple enough at 300 NTD ($10 USD) per day. The 125cc monsters took us off at 60-80 kmph. Bugs splattered on our faces pretty hard at these speeds, enough to deter us from going any faster. Oh, and it was both our second time ever driving a motorcycle. We “forgot” to inform/warn the rental place.
After riding 30 minutes northbound, we arrived at the entrance of the park.
There are around 30 peaks around the park that reach 3000 meters high. The mountains were mostly green (with trees) or white (marble rocks). Several rivers flow around the park, and the main river flow is controlled by a dam.
Jin and I cruised along the road and admired the scenery. Air was fresh and felt great hitting our skin. We eventually walked through a couple trails ranging between 2-4 km long. We used flashlights walking through tunnels, wore our hoodies through a waterfall, almost witnessed a monkey mugging some tourists, and other epic-sounding but easier-than-it-sounds kind of stuff. Unfortunately much of this epicness was not captured, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I appreciated how the park tried to minimize human presence. The tunnels were completely pitch black, no interior lighting ruining the feel. You could smell the sulfur and humidity from all the accumulated rain weather. I was also surprised to see how clean it was, cheers to concerted efforts by tourists for sustainability. Also cheers to Jin, who taught me how to properly say cheers – she spent over eight years in the UK.
She was slightly afraid of heights and celebrated for not falling off the ledge.
On our way back in the afternoon, we crossed from the western to eastern park of the mountain. Never have I seen such a dramatic shift in weather – from sunny to overcast in minutes. At first, I thought it was pretty cool biking along the same plane as clouds. Thought too soon, since it begun raining seconds later.
We tried to wait it out under the guise of a tunnel, but to no avail. Luckily, a taxi driver pulled over and handed us both raincoats, the yellow plastic kinds. He saved our lives; the rain did not stop for quite a while.
We rode back to our bed & breakfast in Hualien, drenched and exhausted but alive. Called the night early, for the next day would be just as adventurous.
Stay tuned for the second half.