Friday, July 20, 2007

Rain and the Taroko Gorge

As soon as Missionary Son got together with us he directed us to a convenience store and made us purchase rain gear. We got umbrellas and some plastic poncho-like things. He already had his missionary umbrella and gear. He had looked at the sky and said that was the first order of business, and sure enough as soon as we got our umbrellas, we got rained on.
The rain continued for several days, on and off. But after all, we were there during Monsoon Season. So we expected rain the whole time we were in Taiwan.
We were blessed the rest of the trip with not too much rain for monsoon season, but the humidity was nearly 100%. I had to buy a towel for my forehead. I didn't know I could turn into a waterfall. I don't deal with humidity that high, apparently.

The neatest rain I experienced was at theTaroko Gorgebetween Puli and Hualian.quoting from this link
"Taroko Gorge straddles the first 20km. of the Central Cross Island Highway in the Taroko National Park as it chisels and tunnels its unpredictable snake-like yellow centerline through the marbled mountains from Taroko to Tiansiang. Carved by the relentless erosion of the Liwu River, the gorge is thought by most visitors to be the most spectacular natural feature of the park. The journey takes visitors through rough-faced, moss and vine covered tunnels, and along roads that seem to hang precariously off the near vertical rock face.

Other natural features include many high mountains, some peaks towering above 3,000 meters, and numerous crystal-clear waterfalls plunging into deep pools or rock filled ravines.

Construction of the highway was inaugurated in July 1956 by the late President of the Republic of China, Chiang Ching-kuo and completed almost four years later in May 1960.

It's not hard to imagine how difficult and heroic its construction, during which 212 lives were sacrificed, and more than 780 injured. Many of these courageous workers were retired servicemen equipped with little more than basic hand-held digging implements.

Today, some of the original construction workers spend their time in the Chinging Veterans Farm adjacent to the western edge of the park.

Maintenance and repair is an ongoing project for park staff responsible for keeping open the winding stone caves, the 38 tunnels, and road surface exposed to landslides. Frequent heavy rain in the summer typhoon season brings its own challenges.

One side of the road closely edges a dramatic precipice and the U-shaped gorge; the other half of the road is in most places overhung by the disturbingly unsupported vertical cliff face rising hundreds of meters above one's head."

According to DL (our chauffeur and guide), they built it all by hand. No machinery, just dynamite and man power. It goes for miles and miles There was a spot along the way where a rock slide had occurred, and they bypassed this part by building a tunnel through the mountain. Here you could park your car and walk along the abandoned road and get a closer view of the rushing water below and the canyon. I wasn't quick enough, so I missed making a movie of the two thunder claps that occurred during our stop.
I was researching this Gorge on Google, trying to find more about it's history, so I could be more accurate. I came across someone else's blog. They experienced an earth quake while in this area in 2002. They realized why the large rocks were sitting in the highway.
They would just leave these huge rocks there and dynamite another tunnel further into the mountain. It was one of the most amazing roads and canyons I have ever seen.
The following link leads you to a blog someone else wrote about the Gorge. While looking for further enlightenment online, I noticed that many quoted this blog without giving him credit. I quote from his blog:
"The major attraction in the region is Toroko Gorge, a spectacular unique marble canyon. The few human constructions actually add to the place. There are the red suspension bridges, temples set in mountains and, most famously, the Eternal Spring Shrine. The Shrine is built over a waterfall and dedicated to the 450 people who died making the Cross-Island Highway that runs along the gorge. The Highway certainly gives a feeling of how hard it was to build here. The amazing route is precariously cut right into the side of the gorge. Everywhere I went, there were the gorge’s light blue waters, soaring marble walls and the sound of rushing water. . . Thankfully, attempts to mine the gorge got nowhere."

1 comment:

Sailor said...

That was an amazing stretch of highway. I can't imagine the conditions that must have existed if 212 people died during the construction. I remember hearing that there is a trench that runs along the Great Wall of China where a lot of the material was taken. In that trench are multiple mass graves, which they think were workers that either died in accidents, or just were worn out from the work. Kind of makes you wonder about the price paid for a lot of the wonders of the world.

You brought that stretch of highway back to life Friend. Good post!