Thursday, September 17, 2009
One thing Taiwan is known for is Jungle, Mountains (okay 2) and Hiking (okay, that's three and there's more but that's another time). On Sunday we went on an amazing hike with two families from school. The were kind enough to include us on their trip. It's one of their favorite spots....their other fave spot was wiped out by the typhoon. I can't recall the name but will fix the blog when I find out. We drove about 45 minutes north east of where we live into the hills. We saw some of the devastation of the typhoon firsthand. We really got off easy compared to some of the people living in the hills.
I love seeing all the palm trees. There was one particularly interesting looking palm tree that seemed to be grown lots, mostly in straight rows like a crop.....sadly I found out it was beetlenut. Beetlenut is Taiwan's version of chewing tobacco except much more of a narcotic, hence the name. It's really gross stuff but lots of people chew it constantly. Interestingly enough, they are blaming much of the typhoon devastation on beetlenut because large pieces of land, especially on hillsides, have been denuded of native vegetation and planted with beetlenut, which has very shallow roots and consequently let go in the rains, causing landslides. Bit of a double whammy for those beetlenut chewers.
The original site we got to was fine. Beautiful waterfall but quite a shallow pool and lots of people. We swam there for awhile and then opted to do the hike....to think we almost didn't. It was fairly steep going at first. We heard this amazingly loud metallic buzzing sound and finally spotted this rather large cidaca on a tree, angry that we were there (can bugs be angry???) We finally arrived on this sort of cliff edge with a rope and a path and started climbing. It was several hundred feet down but the allure of rushing water and cooler air drew us perilously downward. Makena was a real trooper and made the climb too. When we got to the bottom we were met by an amazing pool with a smaller but more powerful waterfall. We had been warned on the way up to turn around so we wouldn't get caught in the dark but, once there, we couldn't not swim so we doffed our clothes (well, except swimming attire) and dove in. There were even ropes nailed into the rock allowing us to climb partway up the fall. Some men had set up a sort of shelter there (don't know how they got the stuff down) and were having tea. We swam for as long as we could and then headed back (just made it before dark). We then enjoyed an amazing hot dog meal with our friends and headed home.
Plans to find lots more waterfalls in the future.