In comparison to most jobs, teaching can provide a lot of vacation time. In Japan, it was no different (for ALTs anyway…the poor real teachers worked all through summer with kid’s clubs and activities). Each school vacation meant a trip out of the country for a lot of JETS and we made the most of planning each trip. Low cost air travel makes South-East Asia your oyster – Peach Airlines are a great option with fantastic seat sales. They are basic and budget but cheap and cheerful. I flew with them often and can’t remember ever being delayed (pretty sure my next trip will now be delayed – I should have kept quiet…) One such trip for myself and two friends was to Taiwan for a week. And the best part was the most unexpected.
Some casual googling of things-to-do in Taiwan led me to Taroko National Park. It is one of nine national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park.The park spans Taichung Municipality, Nantou County, and Hualien County. The views looked absolutely stunning online and we worked it into our trip. We flew into Taipei in the North, headed down south by high-speed train and bus to the seaside town of Kenting and back up the east coast to the little train station of Fangliao next to the national park. We literally looped the country.
I had arranged for a bike tour company to pick us up at the train station and take us to the top of the Gorge. He provided our bikes, locks, helmets and a map. We then took off down! The scenery was absolutely amazing and we stopped at different trains on the way. It was a little dizzly weather wise but it didn’t dampen our spirits. There was actually far more than we had time to do as we had to be back to get the last train to Taipei. I would definitely like to go back and spend more time exploring. There were caves to venture down, waterfalls to see and scenic marble views.
If I’m honest, I think photos do the park more justice than words. There are also plenty of other options to see the Gorge if bikes aren’t your thing. There are regular hop on and off buses, you can take your car, organize tours or grab a scooter. Getting dropped off at the top was a nice cheat as we got to seeing everything without being too ambitious on the fitness front.
Taroko Gorge is fast becoming one of Taiwan’s biggest tourist attractions. It was the most amazing things I saw there so I can certainly see why. I can’t recommend it enough. You can find more detailed logistical info on wikitravel.