Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweepin' the Toombz

Except we don't have any tombs to sweep so we rented a car over the weekend and drove across the North Cross Island Highway, based ourselves in Hualien and drove some more down the east coast, across the Ruiguang Highway (#64) and up the East Rift Valley before coming back via the Qingshui Cliffs and Luodong.

I haven't sorted through all of my photos yet, and a lot of them were taken from a moving car so they're not very good. But here's a smattering of what I've got (in backwards order):

One of the two Sao Ba Megaliths near Ruisui (East Rift Valley). Nice views, and they're kind of cool and maybe worth a quick look if you're in the area, but overall somewhat disappointing.

The cheese-tacular Tropic of Cancer monument. This place screams "pork barrel funding" (with pavilions and educational panels about the tropics, zodiac and latitude lines). Love it!

The scenic Highway #64 between Dagangkou and Ruisui. We encountered very little traffic here, and lots of lovely mountain views and unexpected animals (one mammal that ran away too fast to identify, and goats. Goats!)

Another view from the Ruiguang Highway.

Emily at Shihtiping. This was a nice stop though not as stunning as Yeliu in the north, and not as awe-inspiring as the views from the highway down the coast. Lots of tour groups here, though.

Some tidal pools at Shihtiping.

View of the coast from Shihtiping - this was one of the best parts of that stop.

View down the coast south of Hualien.

Cow Mountain Beach from the main road - it's a long, narrow drive down the hill to get to it, and the sand is burning hot when it's sunny.

These decorations were around the cafe and rest area attached to the beach. We didn't appreciate that with our burning feet on the sand, once we entered we couldn't even use their hose without buying a $50 ticket, but hey, you've got to make a living somehow. We did buy the ticket because we wanted cold drinks at the cafe.

The wind and sun do interesting things to my hair...

View north from Cow Mountain Beach

Rocks at Cow Mountain Beach

What I can only assume is Cow Mountain.

Emily at the beach.

We found a ...Wal-Mart! In Hualien! It's got to be a real Wal-Mart - the sign says so.

I like this sign along the North Cross Island Highway (this is somewhere past Baling) because one always pictures factories, airports, urban sprawl and betel nut shops when one thinks of Taoyuan. This shows that the county can be quite rural.

View near Baling. We stopped in one of the small roadside restaurants here (before Baling town) and had a delicious meal of mountain boar, local river fish and vegetables.

Some art depicting an aboriginal dance - I'm not sure what the deal is with the depiction of that woman, though. This area is heavily settled by aborigines.

Along the North Cross Island Highway, near the turnoff to Lalashan.

We did continue along down to Mingchi, Qilan and Luodong, but the fog was quite bad up there and we sadly missed all the best views.

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