Monday, May 12, 2008

Ride in the clouds

I wanted to see the landscape on the southern cross island highway but there is no public transport so I decide to rent a motorbike. I figured one day over one day back and one day to visit Maolin Recreation Area. I found a place that rented me a motorbike for 3 days and left my backpack at the hotel in Tainan. I put clothes for a few days under the seat of the motorbike and headed off. The map I had was not very good so I just used my compass went east and figured I would hit the road for going across the island at some point. This worked out really well. I did not take the most direct route but I passed through some really pretty countryside. Just when I was thinking I had made a mistake I hit highway 20 which was the road I was after. The cross island highway goes through a part of Yushan National Park which is the same park I had taken a hike in a few days before but this was a different part of the park.

You may have noticed that when I was in Vietnam and Cambodia I always called the motorbikes scooters but now that I am riding them I call them motorbikes. Here is a picture of me on my motorbike/scooter and don’t you think all the people that only have Harleys will be jealous.

This ride was one of those stupid things I do from time to time when I am traveling. I really enjoyed the ride until a little distance past the Yushan Park visitor’s center when I entered the clouds. A lot of the ride I could not really see any of the scenery it was just all white. I had my long underwear shirt on but once above 2500 meters it was cold and frost started forming on my sleeves. Even though I thought about turning around a few times I figured I had to be close to the top so kept going. The road just kept going up and up and up through the clouds. The road was really narrow where 2 cars passing each other was not that easy and the visibility was really low. I really did not like the couple of times a bus went past me in the opposite direction. The road also had places where rocks or boulders had fallen on the road and a few really big holes in the road. I finally came to a tunnel that I think was the top of the highway. I did not like this tunnel either it was long, dark and narrow. I was really happy I did not meet a vehicle coming in the opposite direction while in the tunnel.

Once out of the tunnel the road started to descend and I was really glad because by this time I was really cold. A ways down the road I broke out of the upper clouds so stopped and took a couple of pictures. I found it strange to have clouds both above and below me.

I kept going and the descent went a lot faster than the climb had been and I was happy when I got back down to sea level. I found a hotel in Taitung and took a hot shower and felt a lot better. I had planned on stopping somewhere on the cross island highway and spend the night and then go back the same way I came the following day. Somewhere along the climb I had decided this idea was out I would find another way to get back I did not want another ride in the clouds. One was enough for me.

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