Sunday, April 13, 2014

East Rift Valley

Also known as the Huatung Valley (花東縱谷), because it includes large parts of Hualien and Taitung counties, the East Rift Valley is a mainly agricultural region in Taiwan's thinly-populated east. The weather is often cloudy, and unlike Taiwan's west (and southwest in particular), the wet and dry seasons aren't pronounced. 
There isn't much traffic and some of the valley's most attractive routes, such as Road 193, are quite narrow, so a motorcycle is the ideal vehicle for exploring. Here are the wheels I used last October, parked near Luoshan Waterfall (羅山瀑布). The waterfall is just visible in the background. The sign to the right of the motorcycle asks Buddhists not to release fish, turtles and other creatures into the pond. This tradition, known as 'mercy release', causes environmental problems beyond the suffering and premature death of the animals set free
On this trip I made it to one place I'd never been before: Taiyuan Hidden Valley (pictured above). It's very pretty, but tourists are told to not feed the slightly aggressive macaque population; at the time of my visit the local government had stationed a worker by the bridge specifically to educate outsiders that feeding encouraged bad behavior and could make the animals sick.

For photos taken during a train journey through the East Rift Valley, go here.

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