Monday, June 26, 2006

My Secret Place

"I'm going to take you to
My special place
It's a place that you
Like no one else I know
Might appreciate
I don't go there with anyone--but
You're a special case
For my special place
For my secret place"
~Joni Mitchell, "My Secret Place" from Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm

I've done lots of New Agey things in my day.
I am not so New Agey anymore...just OLD Agey I guess. ;)
One meditation techinique I have learned is to "go to a special place," that is: visualize a real or imagined spot, a special place where you can go to get away from it all. It could be a still lake, a field of flowers, a deserted beach, etc. I'm sure most of you are familiar with this de-stressing techinique.

When we came upon this area of Taroko Gorge, I thought to myself, this is MY secret place. (I guess it's not a secret anymore).

Here's a closer view:

The gang's all here, posing in front of MY Secret Place:

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Gorgeous Gorge

After taking my photos of the misty mountains, I went to the gym and worked out for a half hour. It felt good to excercise after sitting (and eating) for so many hours.Then we ate a decent breakfast - well, at least we actually recognized most of the food that was served at the buffet!
After breakfast, we all boarded onto the Magic Bus and headed for Taroko Gorge National Park. To quote my Taipei Living Guidebook, "This exceptionally beautiful narrow ravine was created by a river that has cut through mountains of solid marble and granite. Here and there pavillions, pagodas and temples cling to mist-clad mountain sides;elsewhere, waterfalls gush from crevices in the steep hills...The colors of the rocks, jagged, striped and soaring are reminiscent of a mini Grand Canyon."And, as Chevy Chase did with his family in National Lampoon's Vacation when THEY visited the Grand Canyon, we also pretty much peeked over the "scenic view" spot and split!
No, not really. We weren't THAT least we walked around for a bit...we hope to return when the weather is nicer and actually go hiking here.

A scenic view:

We walked across a VERY COOL suspension bridge. I loved walking across it. What a rush. Good place to meditate! :) [The photo above was taken from the middle of the suspension bridge].

Thomas the Train and Lyn

Chris and Thomas have NO FEAR!!

Thomas and Alice

I think this is a lion, but it could be a dog...Anjoli had fun climbing on it!

A view of the Central Cross Highway from inside the Magic Bus. This highway runs parallel to the Old Hohuan Trail, which was used by the aboriginal Atayal tribe to cross the island. In 1914, the Japanese entered the gorge area to gain access to the forestry and natural resources. The aboriginal tribe tried to resist the invasion, but were brutally defeated. The Japanese started, but never finished building the entire Central Cross Highway. The KMT completed building it after the Japanese left Taiwan after their defeat in WWII.
Sadly, according to my Lonely Planet guide, "450 workers, mostly retired servicemen from mainland China, lost their lives [building this highway]. The project took four years, with some parts of the highway hacked out of solid rock by HAND." Can you believe it??? It really was incredible.

The caves were cool:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Grand Formosa

Well, after about a 3-4 hour drive from Ilan, we rested for a night at a huge, lovely hotel, The Grand Formosa. Here is a picture of Alice and Thomas outside the hotel:

This is a view from just outside the front of the hotel:

The hotel was a great place to chill. I read about the spa before coming, so as soon as we go to our room I made an appointment for a facial. It was WONDERFUL...very relaxing.
First order of business for Anjoli and I was to take a dip in one of the indoor pools (there were 2). It was weird because it was heated, so it was kind of like taking a bath. They also had a pool on the roof, a paintball area (!) and a rock climbing wall (all on the roof) but this area was closed until the summer season.

After my facial, I met Anjoli and went to the game room, where we bowled with Chris and Thomas:

Anjoli, Thomas and Chris tried out a dance video game:

Happy Hour!

Snugga bugga

That night we opened our window and slept to the sound of rushing water of Taroko Gorge...and we woke up to these views: