Sunday, July 09, 2006

Up and Mostly Down the River in Wu Lai


Given the fifty hours that I had spent last week in front of a word processor editing my book, something a little more physical was in order this weekend, and we found just what I needed. So with a former co-worker at the magazines where I work as editor and some of his friends, we set out, by this beautiful day following a near-miss typhoon, to Wu Lai, a location known for its nature and hot springs.

After a MRT ride and a crammed (there were six of us in the small Toyota Corolla) drive up and down the mountainous region, we finally reached our destination. We paid a whooping NT 100 for an old man, evidently an Atayal tribesman, to look over our car, crossed the brand-new bright-red bridge (seen here on the left), trekked for a while in lush nature, then went down to the river for river tracing and good old, refreshing fun in the water, what with the naturally-carved slides and pools. Though the first slide we went to flipped us over (Carol: there is no danger at all), the water level was a bit low and therefore it did not provide the excitement that we had been led to expect. The second one, however, offered a descent which lasted a solid fiver seconds and brought us at great speed into a natural pool. From 10:30am until around 16:00, we jumped from rock to rock, defied the strong currents, and occasionally ran into colorful spiders—usually a tell-tale sign of their being poisonous, but didn’t see any snakes, which also make the region home.

This is a beautiful area, filled with life from monkeys (it was too hot for them to come out today), to a tremendous abundance of brightly-colored butterflies (big blue ones congregating by the dozens by a rock, smaller yellow ones who invariably were attracted to all things yellow, including Chris’s bright yellow boots and water bottle). All around us dragonflies zipped and droned by, seemingly joining in the fun.

Minor bruises and sunburns notwithstanding, the seven of us—two Canadians, one Taiwanese, an Iranian, a German, an American and a Brit—had an absolutely fantastic day. Returning to our point of origin via the river, a hazardous but altogether enjoyable mix of rock-hopping to swimming, which took us a little more than an hour, we encountered fishermen and small families playing in the safer areas of the river. Unfortunately, the last ten minutes of this swim in paradise were marred by remnants of lunches and litter scattered along the river, an eyesore if ever there was one in such an otherwise pristine environment. Technically, having barbecues along the river is illegal (as is fishing, by the way), but people don’t really seem to care for those rules.

I provide a link to my photo albums in the “links” section, where, among other things, you will find other pictures taken today during this fantastic outing.

Body hurting all over and lots of sun under the skin, I hereby sign off for tonight.

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