Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our Trip To YiLan (宜蘭): Day 1

This past weekend, Nick and I went with some friends on a trip to Yilan, on the east coast of Taiwan.

In typical Taiwanese fashion, we went with a tour group of three bus loads of people.

As always, there was KTV on the bus. Our fellow travelers were particularly welcoming to me, their 美國朋友 (American friend),so they clapped along with me and applauded encouragingly throughout my karaoke performances.

The bus ride to Yilan took us through the mountains of Taiwan, up past Taipei and then down the eastern side of the island. It was an absolutely beautiful bus ride. It was one of the clearest days we've had here in Taiwan and the mountains were breathtaking.

(even from this truck stop!)

After a stop for lunch and another for souvenir shopping, we arrived at a water-fun park. This park had a couple areas for kids with shallow pools equipped with a wide array of shower-like water fun attractions. Based on the suggestion of our friend, we decided to skip over these crowded areas and head for the more natural river area.

We had a little less than 3 hours to hang out by the river, so we hurriedly changed into our swimsuits and jumped in. The river was dammed in several places to create a handful of separate and distinct wading pools. The water was calm, warm, about thigh-deep, and refreshing.
The afternoon was reminiscent of one of my favorite summer activities back home: driving up to Fort Collins, CO to go tubing down the Poudre River. It certainly wasn't the same as floating freely down the pristine Poudre,

but, it certainly was refreshing to be out of the city and surrounded on all sides by beautiful, lush green mountains, and, as our friend said, this was much safer.

My favorite feature of the park was the water slide located at the top of the river:

It doesn't look very steep, but it was fast! Thankfully, the park provided helmets: Just in case you're worried about the safety of this ride, you can grab a foam helmet when you pick up your tube!

There actually weren't too many people wearing these things, but some people certainly were!

The thing that struck me as the most peculiar was that the people that I saw wearing these things weren't small children whose mothers had instructed them to do so... they were actually older teenage boys! Seriously! ooh some things I will just never understand!

Towards the end of our time at the park, it started to rain... a typhoon was coming! S
o we headed back to the bus and continued on our way to the hotel.

I'll tell you what, these tour groups sure like to pack in the activities! Once we arrived at the hotel we had 1/2 hour to get situated before dinner, which was promptly at 6:00pm. At 7:00 most people went to the near-by park to watch a drum show (which we missed). E
vening activities also included a trip to the spa and some friendly gambling.

Saturday morning our wake up call was at 6:30am, as we were planning for an early morning bike ride through the park. Breakfast was to be at 8, departure at 9, whale watching for the morning, lunch, a trip to an outdoor museum in the afternoon, followed the long drive back to Taichung.

Whew, I'm winded just thinking about it! But I'll save day 2 for another post!

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