Monday, February 28, 2011

Formosa Road Trip

One of our campsites, a baseball field
The past few weeks have definitely been the busiest since I've come to Asia!  Melanie arrived right before Chinese New Year and we went on an east coast road trip that involved one scooter with the two of us and all our camping gear!  The weather was perfect (it never rained!) and we were lucky to find free places to camp each night.  We started out crossing over the mountains and heading north on highway 11 up to Hualien.  Midweek we arrived at Taroko National Park and set up camp there for two nights.  On the way back, we took highway 9 south and crossed back over to the west coast to Kaohsiung.

Taking pictures in a random field of flowers on the side of the road
The week was awesome, and I was really glad I had the chance to see the east coast - it was beautiful!  I have so many pictures and I'll be posting them soon.  After we got back from our road trip, we had a few days in Kaohsiung before we left for Green Island (Lu Dao).  It's the smaller of the two islands located off the east coast near Taitung.  Sophie (my roommate)  also had a friend visiting from France so a small group of us set off for the weekend.  We drove to Taitung and took a ferry from there.  In the past few years my travels have included many boats of varying degrees of comfort.  The ferry to Green Island was hands down the absolute worst.  It's nickname is the barf barge and for good reason.  Now, before we took the ferry everyone told me it was bad, even the writer of LP Taiwan said it was terrible.  But, of course my response was "Ive taken ferries, boats, and canoes all over the world!  It cant be that bad!"  Well, it was!  There were trash cans in every aisle and big packages of plastic bags hanging from each seat.  I only made it through the first 40 minutes of the one hour ride.  I even attempted taking motion sickness medication before we left, but all it did was make me feel drugged, and it clearly didn't help so I wont be taking that again.

Us on the scooter in Taroko National Park
Nonetheless, Green Island was very nice, and we had a good time.  They have one of the few saltwater hot springs in the world and the facilities were great.  There were numerous pools of varying temperatures and you could also walk down to the ocean and go in directly where the source of the hot spring was. There was even a boiling spring where you could cook your food!

During the rest of Melanie's time here I was part tour guide and part tourist again which was fun.  I've realized that there are still a lot of things I haven't done in Taiwan and hope to spend more time seeing new parts of my city and the country before I leave.  It's so easy to get stuck in your day to day routine!

I was lucky to have a friend from home here in Taiwan to celebrate my birthday.  A group of us got dinner at Brickyard and then hung out there for the rest of the night.  I had an awesome time!  I hadn't been to Brickyard for awhile and they have fantastic food.  My family sent cards and presents so even though I wasn't at home with everyone to celebrate I knew everyone was wishing me a happy birthday.  Thanks to everyone who made it special!

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