Day 21 – Highway 11

Got up early because we needed to go to the repair shop to get the bike fixed. It was $2800 NTD and all I had on me was $2400, so while he was fixing it we went on a quest to find an ATM. The problem was that all the ones we found didn’t work with my card! After going around a bit we finally made it to a 7-11 that worked. That was a relief. And the guy managed to fix the bike in 30 minutes, which was awesome. I was impressed. You don’t get that kind of service for that cheap in the US. So we returned the bikes and the person didn’t notice anything. I remember there was a moment where she went around and closely examined all of the bikes, and by the time she got to mine she just kind of approved and didn’t notice anything different.

The others left to go back to the hostel and I negotiated the rental of the bike for 4 more days. She actually gave me the bike for a lower price, $350 a day, I’m guessing because it was for a long amount of time. That’s a pretty sweet deal, $10 US for a scooter per day? You could just rent it permanently at that rate. No problems. I actually switched to another scooter because the oil was low in that one.

Went back to the hostel and hung out with the group for a few more moments before I left. Once I was out on the scooter, everything was gold. I was so incredibly happy, cruising down the road along the coast. I just couldn’t get over the excitement and I truly felt so peaceful and content. I stopped at the Visitor Center for the coastal road, and no one was there. The place was really beautiful too. There was a huge pond with a pleasant path around it, and lillies and dragonflies. There was one person at the desk in the center who attempted to help me out. She didn’t speak much English, but she gave me tons of maps, and tried to call her friend to help me with English, though that wasn’t so successful. The visitor center had a huge diorama room that was very detailed and well done.

I had this recurring thought throughout Eastern Taiwan: There is this incredibly beautiful place with so much effort put into designs, parks, etc, yet there were almost no other tourists enjoying it with me. Like it was my own private heaven.

Down the coast I stopped at a place named Baci, which was just a scenic view, and close by was a beach named Jici. This place was absolutely deserted. Except for two teenagers who were at the admission counter. Wait, what? I needed to pay for access to the beach? Bullshit. I decided not to pay. Instead I went on a short hiking path nearby. Got a nice view in return for climbing a million stairs. Then got on my scooter and continued south. I realized along the way that there were tons of other beaches that were actually free to access, so paying for Jici beach would have been stupid.

I stopped for a picture of Shitty Fishing Harbor, or rather Shitih.

I stopped for a slurpie at 7-11. There was a dragonfly caught in the store, which was a little strange for me to see.

Then I continued to Shinsantai. I still don’t know how to spell it correctly. First I went to the Visitor Center, which though it also had an incredible diorama, it also lacked someone who could understand English. Anyhow, started out on my adventure to the Island of the Three Immortals. I was not expecting the incredible adventure awaiting me.

The place was basically some very eroded islands connected to the land with a pedestrian bridge which was made up by 8 humps you would walk up and down. As always there was a group of Chinese tourist fresh off the bus, viewing the bridge and islands from a distance. I headed out onto the bridge, which felt kind of like what I thing a miniature golf ball would feel like on one of those hilly courses. After that I was put onto a long wooden pathway with no shade. The sun was relentless, so I took a long break in the shelter at the end of the wooden pathway. Then I headed down one of the paths, and after a bit the path completely disappeared. I could not see any sign of where it continued. So I walked around this very rocky and surreal area full of strange formations. I almost walked into this water area, but I’m glad I didn’t because after looking around I saw some snakes chilling in the water. They had black and white strips, and later I looked up the snakes and found out they were very poisonous. I didn’t really want to disturb them so I continued.

Then I walked over the rocky landscape until I somehow refound a trail. this one led to a tunnel that went through the island, but it was pitch dark. I had left my flashlight behind at the scooter, and because I was a little freaked out by the snakes I decided to get through the tunnel by using the flash on my camera. So I took a few pictures and just managed to see that the path was clear and what direction it went, and then I quickly jogged down the path until I managed to see the light out the other end of the tunnel. Although once I got out of the tunnel, the pathway quickly disappeared again and once again I was free to roam.

I started walking clockwise around the island, climbing up and down dangerous rocky formations. Eventually I came to a watery moat that blocked my way. Yet I could see a hint of another path on the top of the cliffs on the other side. So Not being able to go that way, I had to walk all the way back around and through the tunnel and went the direction of the path I saw.

Sure enough, saw a weird mysterious white building and the start of another path. These were some steps that led up the island. I started up, and saw a lighthouse at the top. I wondered if another path connected to the lighthouse that went down the other side of the island. The answer was no, and nothing was around the lighthouse except a small rocky path that headed up to the tip top of the island. I took that path and there was even a rope to help me up and down. Once I got to the top I was rewarded with an incredible view of the entire set of islands and the Eastern coast I had driven down. It was fantastic. Even a dragonfly friend came up to join me .

After a breath I backtracked all the way back to the rest spot at the end of the wooden pathway, and then not being done I took an alternative pathway wondering where it went since I didn’t see the end of it in my explorations. This actually led to another disappearing path, although this one you could faintly make out where people had walked, and it actually took me to the exit of the tunnel I went to earlier. If I had just gone counter clockwise after exiting the tunnel, I would have returned just fine. But then I would have never had that other adventure. Walking around this place was very much like the video game Myst, except no puzzles to solve.

So I returned slowly on the familiar wooden pathway being beaten mercilessly by the sun. When I got back to the entrance area, I immediately bought a huge water bottle and promptly drank about a fourth of it. That was good. After asking some cute girls advertizing a hotel how to get to the nearest gas station, I headed there, filled up, and continued down South. One thing I’ve noticed about traveling by scooter is that when you reach a city’s limits, you actually get to the city long afterwards. That confused me a bit when I got to Taitung.

Once I got there it was already dark and the visitor center was closed, so I parked and wandered around looking for hostels and food. I found some good food that was also really cheap, but I had a really difficult time finding a place to stay. I asked a hotel how much it was for the night and he said $600. Mind you, the English here was little to nothing. I used my iPod divining rod trick and found a coffee shop with wifi, so I got some coffee and tried to connect to their wireless but with no success. Then I finally found some kind of video game shop with wifi and figured out where the hostel was. Went there and found out it was $650! More than the hotel. I started to leave but the receptionist called me back and said her manager said $600 was OK. When I got to the room I realized this was no hostel at all but just a hotel in disguise. But they provided me with lots of stuff like a razor, 2 toothbrushes, a comb, etc. I stole all of it except one toothbrush.

I washed my clothes in the bathtub and took a bath while I was at it. Then watched a bit of television about some people raising bears, and something about Pakistan, before heading to sleep. Long day.

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