A couple of months ago, Renegade wife and I climbed the peak of Hehuanshan, which is roughly half way along the Cross Island Highway. Due to time constraints we were unable to drive all the way to the east coast so we promised ourselves to come back another time. Since the government has given us new years day off, we took the opportunity to go this weekend. On New years eve we drove south to Puli, a small town just on the edge of the central mountains, and celebrated new years eve in our hotel room (sad perhaps but never mind).

Today we woke up bright and early and headed east. To our great dismay there were hundreds of people who had decided to go up to Hehuanshan and on those narrow roads it turned into one massive traffic jam. I will say this though, there are worse places to be stuck in traffic than on a road with a good view. Around noon we finally reached the starting point of the top trail, but by now a thick mist had rolled in, so it didn’t seem worth it to stop.

We pressed on, and at Wuling pass the queue all but disappeared. Seems people were going there to see the view then turned around to go down again, which was lucky for us. Shortly there after the mist cleared and we found a lesser peak to climb, which was almost as good as the main one.

As gorgeous as the landscape was up there, we had to continue if we wanted to reach the east coast before nightfall. We drove onward, and quickly dove into the mist, it was so thick we could barely see in front of us.

The mist is thiiick

A few carefully driven kilometers lower down the mist cleared somewhat and we started seeing blossoming cherry trees. It was a bit unexpected to see it so early in the year, but very nice.

A short while later, just as we were coming round a corner, I spotted two creatures which I thought to be dogs crossing the road, so I slowed down so as not to hit them. Suddenly Yini shouted out “Ii monkeys, monkeys” and sure enough, the two dogs were actually a couple of monkeys, and after them followed a whole bunch of others, maybe 15 in total. We stopped the car and went out to try to see some more of them. We did get a few glimpses through the trees, but they soon disappeared. I’m not really an animal lover but it’s always cool to see animals out in nature like that.

We continued downwards and eastwards, winding our way through the spectacular landscape of Taroko gorge, and though I’ve been there several times before I’m still not tired of the beauty. We didn’t make that many stops however so I only have a few photos to show.

About the same time we got out of Taroko gorge it started to become dark, which is good since I prefer not to drive winding little mountain roads at night if I can avoid it.

After several years thinking about it but never executing our plans we had finally travelled west to east on the Cross Island Highway. It’s another Taiwan travel goal completed, now I just want to do it again, but on a motorcycle. Once we reached Hualien city, we made our way to a small restaurant that serves some excellent seafood, then headed to our hotel.

Not a bad way to start a New year, mountain views, cherry blossoms, monkeys, and good food.