December 05, 2008

The East Coast of Taiwan - Taroko Gorge (Part 2)

The tortuous course cut by the river has produced a gorge of many curves, and the path of the highway that has been carved out of the cliff face here seems to be an endless series of turns, hence its name Tunnel of Nine Turns. It has many more than nine tunnels and turns but in Chinese "nine" can also denote "myriad/numerous." The gigantic opposing cliffs here come within a few dozen meters of each other in spots, making this area the narrowest, and one of the most scenic parts of the gorge.

Stone formation that resembles the face of a Red Indian

A carp rising against the tide

Next, we visited the Buluowan Recreation Area, a retreat celebrating the culture of the Atayal and Amis native peoples. Taiwan's second-largest tribe, living in the northern hills/mountains, the Atayal moved into the gorge a few hundred years back, displacing the Amis, the largest tribe, who inhabit the eastern plains. It is believed population pressures and resulting strife within the Atayal orbit caused a sub-group to break away, traveling old hunting trails to the gorge. This group, the Taroko, was formally recognized as a distinct tribe last year.

Our last stop was the Eternal Spring Shrine, a lovely small complex perched on a narrow cliff above a wide, meandering section on the Liwu River. The shrine is a memorial to the hundreds of retired soldiers who lost their lives descending from the clifftops in nothing more than hand-woven baskets, picks and explosives in hand, hacking at the rock to construct the Central Cross-Island Highway in 1956-1960. Beside the shrine is a stream that plummets into the river valley below and is one of the most photographed scenes in the gorge.


Anonymous said...

wow! jaw-dropping views!

A Mom's Diary said...

It was totally awesome, Mimi.