East Coast Adventures II

24 Oct

Camera was dead at this point so no pictures of this crazy crazy crazy ride home…

According to the lady at our second hostel HWY-20 going through the interior of Taiwan was the quickest way for us to get back to Kaohsiung as you didn’t have to go as far south as HWY-9, great!

We looked on a map and the GPS and from where we finished rafting the road would take us through the mountains and we would be to Kaohsiung in four hours, wonderful!

Due to the fact that when we received our car from the rental company it was almost empty we wanted to be sure that we didn’t give them any more than they gave us, bad mistake #1.

We then embarked on our journey into the mountains, imagine the drive from Alberta through British Columbia, take the worst section of road, remove the guardrail, add construction and some dirt road, and you have what we were driving on for about 75 km or 2 hours into the mountains. We reached the summit where you would think we would start heading down the other side but SURPRISE… the road no longer existed. There was only the remains of what looked like used to be a road under a gigantic rockslide that wiped out the entire road. At this point we also were starting to get low on fuel, the GPS had told us there was going to be a gas station in 8 km on the other side of the non-existent road; trusting the GPS, bad mistake #2.

End of the Road, Picture from Jonathan S Muller

Our Plan B was now to head back down the mountain and let the second car with us go ahead to the nearest gas station. We would go as far as our tank would take us and they would then be getting gas and coming back to rescue us.

On the way down the mountain we happened to see some local men who were just packing up to leave the construction sight for the day, we pulled over and asked if anyone spoke English, No. So via a pocket translator, showing them that our tank was almost empty, and looking like lost scared foreigners they managed to communicate with facial expressions and gestures that there was no way we were going to get down the mountain. Did I mention that the sun has completely set by this point? Oh boy… BUT they showed us to follow them because they knew where someone could get us gas close by back up the mountain, what a blessing!

They took us to some sort of forest ranger station where there was a man who could speak English; they sent someone on a scooter and during this time we found out the road had been damaged by a typhoon 2 YEARS AGO and it still has not been fixed because it is too dangerous. The people who helped us did not want to take any money but we shoved it in their pockets anyways, I do not think they realized how grateful we were. At this point we had been up for over 12 hours and found out that our journey home would most likely be another 7 hours, however; we had a half tank of gas and were going to be able to get out of the mountain to Taitung and from there home to Kaohsiung, YAY!

Arriving into Kaohsiung 6 hours later than expected and having to pay an extra day for the car rental is a small price to pay for arriving home safe and sound. I have to say thank you to the people I was travelling with for staying so outwardly positive or silently scared, we were all thinking about how scary the situation was but still managed to try and be optimistic. Surprise, surprise at one point all my emotional wreck self wanted to do was cry, but I held it together because I knew in a car with four other girls, this would only make matters worse.

I know I have talked about it before, but after this past weekend once again I cannot say enough for the people of Taiwan, they are amazingly kind hearted and caring people. I doubt any of the people who helped us will ever see this, but I have to say that I am so extremely thankful for their willingness to help us and genuine care that we made it down the mountain. After getting us the gas they lead us down a majority of the mountain and made sure we were safe, we definitely had many guardians watching over us as we wound down those mountainous roads.

Xièxiè – Thank You

Xièxiè – Thank You

Xièxiè – Thank You

PS. On the way home we joked about writing a letter to someone who would care about the fact that HWY-20 had no signage at the bottom saying that it was no longer accessible to cross (There may have been one in Chinese, but it was so dangerous that there really should be one in English too; even the maps they have in the airport show the road is still good). After everything we went through, I think I may actually take it seriously and do this to help other tourists in the area… good or bad idea?

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