Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two lifts in one day

Today we were offered and accepted two lifts. Last night our nice Guanshan homestay offered to give us a lift to the train station. I declined, a trifle 15-minute walk with our backpacks, our normal routine. As it was still raining this morning, when they offered again at breakfast, we accepted.

After a slow three-hour train ride we arrived at Xincheng, the station for Taroko Gorge National Park, a top destination for Taiwan. From my research online I knew we had over two hours to kill before a bus can take us to Tiensiang inside the gorge, where we will be based. We had lunch, bought some provisions, and caught a bus for the 5km to the park headquarters. At the headquarters we got a map, inquired about various trails, and sat down to wait for our bus. A young woman walked up to us saying that they are going to Tiensiang -- would we like a lift in their car? We immediately accepted. The young couple is from Kaohsiung. They are on their honeymoon. Their English was so good that we were surprised that neither uses English for work. Since we learned that the turnout rate for last Saturday's election was expected to be 80%, John asked what they did about the election -- they waited for the polls to open at 8AM and then started driving on their honeymoon. What exemplary citizens! Along the drive, the three passenger were uh-wowing over the passing scenery, the poor driver had to really concentrate on all the twists and turns. In Tiensiang, we bid farewell to our benefactors at the visitor center and got a cozy room at our chosen hotel -- we did not choose to squander our money at the five-star hotel.

We travel simply and independently, refrain from paying for obsequiousness. Just so, we are always braced for the kindness of strangers.

View from our balcony at the Tianxiang Youth Activity Center in Taroko Gorge National Park.

With the honeymooners who gave us a ride to Tianxiang.


Crash Eddy said...

My, oh, my, you two live right!

john said...

We work hard at it! ;-)

Kathy said...

Glad to hear that the Youth Center worked out.

kent said...

Could you tell me if the youth hostel would a good place to night before starting off on the Lushu Trail?

It will either be Lu shu or the Old Trail for me.

Did you apply for the permits the day of the hike or in advance?

I'll be going there around 1/19-1/22 not sure quite yet.

I thought Hualien would be good to night but it takes 1 hr by bus to get into the Headquarters. Info is few and far between, since most people take tours.

And you two are the only ones I've seen that went solo.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

john said...

Kent, Just to be clear, we stayed at the Youth Activity Center. There is also a Youth Hostel at one of the churches...The Youth Activity Center was a great place to stay. Our room was small, very small in fact, more like a Japanese tatami room; but clean of course, and an all you can eat breakfast was included. The YAC is very close to the bus stops and the HQs that gives the hiking permits. It is also close to the several restaurants and food stands. And it is about a 30 minute walk to the start of the Lushi trail.
We think that staying in the gorge is the way to go.
We got our permit the morning of the hike, but that was because it was a last minute decision. Probably best to get it the day before.