I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

10/27 I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

The wishes from our day at the temples of Taipei seemed to have paid off in the morning, which dawned gray with clouds but not rainy. At 6:30 we gathered outside the hotel and prepared to ride to the train station, a short Sunday morning jaunt through a very quiet Taipei. L1280184

We grabbed some coffee at the Songshan train station 7 – 11 store and boarded the train, which had several cars specifically set up for bikes and riders.

On the train

On the train

We drank our coffees and dozed on and off, keen to get onto our bikes and to see parts of Taiwan that few have a chance to experience. The train snaked its way out of the city, passing northeast through industrial sectors and high rises, fields and increasingly steep wooded hills. Then tunnels galore, a descent onto the coastal plain and South along the coast itself, with the blue Pacific rolling onto empty shores. In contrast to the crowded western side of the island, relatively few live on the East, After two and a half hours we jumped train at the north end of Hualien, a relatively small town (about the size of Seattle), situated on the coast.

Outside Hualien Station

Outside Hualien Station

The sun was out, the air was soft and warm, and we sped off in the direction of the famed Taroko Gorge — westward, back inland and up a narrow throat of road.

Heading to Taroko Gorge

Heading to Taroko Gorge

On the way to Taroko Gorge

On the way to Taroko Gorge

Soon we were to learn why this gorge is world famous. Rounding a corner we glimpsed towering gray cliffs; as we approached closer we realized that they formed a tremendous sheer wall opposite the ascending road, with a suspension bridge hanging perilously across. The wall itself is marble, sometimes pocked and pitted, reaching upward on a vast scale with light blue waters rushing and roaring over rapids below.

Lower Taroko Gorge with suspension bridge

Lower Taroko Gorge with suspension bridge

We continued our ascent and the road we followed literally disappeared into the face on our side of the gorge. It had bed hand hewn out of the marble, with columns and lookout windows that peered into the winding abyss.

Gorge and bridge

Gorge and bridge

Falling waters

Falling waters

The pictures tell the story. We followed the rock-hewn road for miles through the gorge, eventually emerging and continuing up to a pass, and then finding the place where we had lunch reservations, a charming inn a mile or two off the road. Feasting ensued…

L1280249

L1280250

Then the descent, fast and furious. Clouds had formed during lunch, and those who dawdled were soaked in a sudden and violent rainstorm.

L1280255

Most had made it down back to the coastal highway by then, however, and after the rain stopped we found our hotel.

We managed dinner in the busy flashing world of Hualien markets, and again found exquisite food. You will have noticed that food surfaces in this blog frequently, and for good reason. First of all, the meals are often long, with a seemingly endless procession of dishes brought in some secret sequence to the table. And it helps to understand that food plays a huge part in Taiwanese culture as expressions of graciousness and generosity. Indeed, the ordinary greeting in Cantonese can be translated as “Eaten yet?”

Oh yes, we have seen the Marble Halls of Taroko Gorge and eaten…

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

  1. Greg & Kathy

    Hey guys, I’m thoroughly enjoying your adventure, it looks like you guys will add a few lbs. with all that good food being served up. Have fun. Greg

    Sent Greg and Kathy,s Ipad

    >

    Reply
  2. Phil

    I thawed out a delicious costco pizza last night… What a banquet. Glad your having a great time, wish I was there.
    Phil

    Reply
  3. julie

    I missed this post. Sorry! I understand more about the food. So glad that it is as wonderful as we imagine it might be. Beautiful scenery. Watch for the signs on the mainland in Fujian province if you are on the west side.

    Reply
  4. Kathleen Cavanagh

    Great writing & stories. You all look like your suffering your way thru Taiwan with very little to eat!

    ________________________________

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s