Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taiwan: Take Seven: From Hualien to Kenting

The next leg of the trip, we rented a car and drove down the east coast... well, most of the way. The intended route is shown below, driving along Route 11, stopping overnight at a campground... This was the actual path we ended up taking over 2 days to get from Hualien to Kenting. It happens when only one person is reading the map and driving. But, it was gorgeous and the views from the top of the mountains in the middle were stunning.
We overnighted at a 'free' campground in Hsiao Yeliu, known for the crazy rock formations along the coast. I'm all about sunrises and sunsets, so I made Ronan roll outta the tent around 4:30am to catch it. We headed to the coast and found a little hut to chill in until the sun came up, which randomly had sitting on the bench: night vision binoculars! No idea where they came from, but they were a blast to play with. There were no intruders in the area, in case you were wondring. In a campground. In a campground that probably fit 40 tents, we were the only ones.

Anyway, the 4:30am rise was clearly worth the struggle.

After the rise for sunrise, we headed to a very lame tourist stop called, "The River Running Up", which appeared to do exactly that. I'm pretty sure I figured out how it worked, but I don't want to have to post a spoiler alert! Then we drove round in circles in a town of less than 500 people to find the Dulan Sugar Factory, a place where artists and musicians chill, jam, create, and display their work.
The inside of the old factory is still semi intact. Not sure it's really safe, per say, but interesting nonetheless.
In a building on the grounds, a local Dulanian was hard at work.
I'm getting these chairs for my future kitchen round table.
This was my navigators assumed position for 98% of the time, only to arise from slumber to refuel (himself, not the car).
Almost to Kenting, we spotted this crazy place in Khaosiung. Immediate pull off for photo opps.
When we finally got to Kenting, we made our way to a beach where the only reference to rock jumping in Lonely Planet was listed. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, there was a giant sign with warning against jumping unless you want a big fat fine. We walked up to the edge to check it out, and out jumped a guy that was snorkeling. He said it was excellent, we said we wanted to go, so he walked us over the shop he got his gear from. $2 bucks for snorkel rental = awesome!
Swordfish at the surface.
The reef was pretty damaged, but there were still some really gorgeous areas.
Looking out over one of the many VERY touristy areas of Kenting. Over 5 million people a year come to visit it. It's namely hotel upon hotel upon restaurant upon hotel, but still fun and pretty.
Looking back at Sail Rock, our non cliff jumping rock.
And of course, any good day at the beach ends with a good sunset. We set up camp here.
Out on the town that night, sporting our only souvenier purchase of the trip: $2 sunglasses. And don't worry Dr. Carlino, the salesmen (with the giant wig and glasses) totally had a UV checker and these babies were at 100%.

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