Sunday, 30 January 2011

Leader Village Hotel in Taroko

10 °C

Depending on availability, we were given accommodation by our tour operator in either the Silks Place or Leader Hotel in Taroko National Park for the night.

Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Aka Sun Mon Village in Chinese

Bruwan Leader Village Hotel, Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Front entrance of Leader Village Hotel

The Leader Village Hotel was built in the valley amidst the mountains of Taroko NP. The mists in the mountain today gave the valley an otherworldly atmosphere.

Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Cabins, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

The hotel was built to recreate the village of the Truku (Taroko) aboriginal heritage, which we caught a glimpse of it while dropping by the Taroko Visitor Centre briefly.

Painting, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Sculptures, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Left: Taroko woman with facial tattoo.
Above: Sculptures based on the idea of Taroko totem-poles
These cabins are the accommodation that recreate the traditional Taroko dwellings.

Log cabin, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Log cabin, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Log fire, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

I warmed in front of this log fire for 45 mins, and my hands were still stone cold. I have the blood circulation of a gecko (I think the gecko would be grilled ready too be eaten by now. Yes, my hunger also fed the cold). So when I was told that there was no air conditioning in the cabin, chills sent down my spine. After spending the night with adequate blanket, it wasn't bad. If I could handle it, all mammals - including any Homo Sapiens tourist - should be hunky-dory.

After dinner, we were treated with some Taroko traditional performances. Just the thing to warm up the cockles of my hearts.

Traditional performance, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Traditional performance, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Traditional performance, Leader Village, Taroko National Park, Taiwan


Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip  


Xiangde Temple in Taroko National Park

10 °C

Aka Hsiang-Te Temple (祥德寺).

The Pudu Bridge (普渡桥) ushers you into Xiangde Temple.


If this suspension bridge doesn't draw your attention, the glimpses of pagoda and the white Guanyin statue that loom on the hill above, shrouded in mist should beckon you to scale those stairs.


While the temple is quite new (built in 1968), and so isn't imbued with history. But from this elevation, it gives a nice aerial view of the surrounding, Taroko Gorge, and mountains.

Zhihui Bridge, Tiangxiang Village and Pudu Bridge (lower right corner)

Even though it was 2:30pm, because it was in late January, the mountains were covered in a heavy blanket of fog, which works very well with such spiritual place as a temple.





Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip  

Cimu Brige in Taroko Gorge

10 °C

If you continue to walk after the Tunnel of Nine Turns, and half way between it and Xiangde Temple is where you can see Cimu Bridge (慈母橋, meaning "Loving Mother"), and a nice interesting blend of man-made and natural landscape. This is also where Liwu River makes a sharp bend.

The bridge was built by former president Chiang Jing-gou to remember his mom 1st Lady Soong May-Ling.


Pavilion on rock near Cimu Bridge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Cimu Bridge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan


If you look at the rock under the bridge pier, it looks like a frog (if your angle or the lighting is perfect, the resemblance i stronger). Above the head of the frog is a little pavilion, which looks like a hat/crown for the frog. Ladies, kiss the rock to see if it turns into a prince the size of Goliath or King Kong...


Cimu Bridge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan


Fairy tale Frog Prince
Photo credit: free-download-web.com

If you want a cheesy photo (our tour guide totally insisted on it), you can stand in front of the frog like this couple below so that it looks like you're crowned with the pavilion. If you're tall like the man below, you can just have the roof of the pavilion as a crown. If you're shorter, photo yourself with the whole pavilion as a crown.

Cimu Bridge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan


Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip  


Tunnel of Nine Turns in Taroko Gorge

10 °C

Liwu aka Leewoo (立雾溪) means "standing mist".

The 19km Taroko Gorge was carved out by Liwu River over millions of years as it emptied into the Pacific Ocean.

Liwu River and Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan 
Above: Doesn't the rock formation on the right look like the head of a lion drinking water from the Liwu River? Local tour guide said it look like an American Indian Chief..each to his/her own.

Liwu River and Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Liwu River and Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Liwu River and Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan 
Grotto, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Grotto, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Grotto, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan 

Rockpool, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan


Tunnel for railway and car, Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Tunnel for trains and cars

In the Tunnel of Nine Turns, tourists wear hardhats to protect them from falling rocks. The right photo below show the small rock debris on the road.

Tunnel of Nine Turns, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan Tunnel of Nine Turns, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan 

This shows some of the bigger rocks. Some of these are larger than the size of a car. But there's no danger of being crushed by them if you follow the tour guide's instruction. Or  follow the tour group or sinage if you don't have one.

Fallen rocks, Tunnel of Nine Turns, Taroko Gorge, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip  

Eternal Spring Shrine


Aka Chang Chun Hsi or Shrine.

The Central East/West Cross Island Highway was built between 1956 - 60. Thousands of military personnel were involved in the constructions of the highway. Hundreds died, and this shrine was built to commemorate them.

It was position in a nicely strategic location above the spring water falls. Because the spring water is flowing all year round, the shrine was named after the falls.

We didn't climb up to visit the shrine, but only view it from below. The visit to the shrine isn't part of the itinerary.


  
Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip  

Taroko NP Visitor Centre

10 °C

The tour guide stopped here. but we didn't visit inside (because the tour guide didn't invite us). I think he was here to get tickets.

We did see some sculpture of the Taroko people (aka Truku). They're the aboriginal inhabitant of this place. They're noted for tattooing faces to mark the coming of age. During the Japanese 50 years occupation of Taiwan, tattooing was outlawed because the occupying Japanese considered it a sign of uncivilised conduct. Today, only women over 90 years old could be seen with facing tattoos. Or young ones because the facial tattoo ban had been lifted. But very few young Truku women - no longer isolated from the mainstream Taiwan society - would want to follow this tradition as it contradicts to the Chinese beauty ideal of the 21st century: unblemished skin, especially the face.

2nd contradiction, in modern society, fashion trumps tradition. Tattoo (of any kind) maybe fashionable one day, but gone the next. You wouldn't want to follow fashion that leave a permanent mark, like facial tattoo. Or even if tattoo is fashionable for a long time, but a particular design is unlikely to stay fashionable. In a fast changing world, tradition gets swept away too easily.


 
Brass engraving, Truku women, Taroko National Park, Taiwan 

Not far from here is also near the start of the Central Cross-Island Highway (中部橫貫公路) or Provincial Highway No. 8. It connects the East and West coasts together in Central Taiwan.

Gateway, Central Cross-Island Highway, Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Return to Taiwan Taroko NP Trip