Yesterday we cycled out of the tiny town of Xincheng into the Taroko Gorge. Xincheng is not much of a place to visit but it is entrance to something amazing. We had a 23 km uphill cycle to get to the campsite we had chosen for our night of camping in the gorge. The scenery was so amazing we didn’t mind the constant uphill climb. Words can not describe the beauty of this place. If you are ever in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is a must.
Every photo has people in it to give you some perspective of the scale of this place.
The walls of the gorge are made of marble, ranging in colour from brown, green, grey to pure white. Cycling along I couldn’t help but think of kitchen bench tops in different people houses. It is just stunning to see boulders of pure white marble the size of a double decker bus just laying around in the valley of the gorge. The power of the water during the wet season is beyond belief. The marble boulders have been rolled around like marbles in a childrens game.
Can you see Allister and Patrick in the above photo? This gives you some idea of the size of the marble boulders.
Our campsite was actually a carpark for a wild hot water spring. As I have said before, you can pretty much camp anywhere in Taiwan as long as you are respectful and don’t get in the way. There was plenty of room for our tent and a toilet block perched on a cliff in the wall of the gorge.
We cycled the extra 1.7km to the path that lead to the wild hot spring. We saw signs that said it was closed but we also saw locals walking back up the path, wet from being in the water. We kept on walking and eventually came to a flight of stairs that had been carved into the cliff face, leading down to the rivers edge. The stairs were in a ruined state but still passable with a little agility. The further down we got the more destroyed the place became. There were hundreds of full thickness steel rods bent at 90 degree angles pointing downstream. All of the old structure that made up the baths had been demolished by something very strong. At this point I remembered reading about a Typhoon that caused great damage in Taiwan back in 2012. The amount of water that came down in the typhoon caused boulders to be washed downstream and to demolish the old hot spring baths. It didn’t really bother us. We still had a great time. We climbed down the old concrete wall into the river and sat in the hot water flowing out of the rocks. We were in there for hours collecting pyrite crystals that we found around the hot water vent.
We eventually headed back to our camp and snuggled down for a peaceful night’s sleep. Well, we fell asleep quickly but were woken by a huge ground shaking rumbling noise. After a few seconds it settled and we had silence again. We realised why there were so many signs saying be careful of falling rocks. The cliff on the other side of the gorge had had a small rock slide. I would estimate 30 meters long and 10 meters wide. I would not have wanted to be camped under it. After reassuring the kids that we were safe as we did not have an overhang of rock above us, we went back to sleep, only to be awoken by another louder, larger rock slide. You can imagine that the only person who got a good nights sleep was Allister. He can sleep through anything.