We got up and had a traditional Taiwanese breakfast at the hotel before heading out for a long hike at the Kenting Forest Recreational Area.

We took a van from the hotel that wound up the switchbacks towards the nearby recreational area. Once into the park, we headed off into the forest to explore. The entrance to the area is referred to as butterfly alley, a wooded area providing a calm place for butterflies to live. It’s not the right time of year to see many butterflies, but even so we managed to see some in this area, and further on we saw some of the largest ones I’ve ever seen. Any bigger and they’d be the size of my open hand. While the little ones fluttered around like regular butterflies, the larger ones almost seemed to zip around like birds, riding the light breeze. Unfortunately, they never seemed to land, and in the well shaded area it was difficult to get any really good pics.

There was plenty of other things to see, though, including this massive tree growing out of the rock wall.

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A little further on, we can to the “minor gorge” a gap in the rock allowing you to pass through to the other side.

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Over time, huge chunks of rock have fallen off the cliffs into the gap, getting wedged and providing a small opening to pass through.

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I’ve become used to everything man-made being small here in Taiwan; it appears that even nature is smaller here.

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We continued on, towards a larger gorge, walking by large banyan trees (they look like full size bonsai trees) and bamboo clusters stretching 30 feet or more into the air. When the wind would blow, the bamboo would clickety-clack and rattle and squeak as it bumped around and rubbed together. At first it seemed like it was all going to come crashing down, but that’s just the way it sounds. We tried to capture the sounds on video. Between the sounds of the wind, you can kind of hear the clickety clack throughout the video and the squeaking can really be heard near the end of the video.

Along the trail we took a minute to wander into some rocks and look around. While Dawin and Mina were exploring , they crawled through an opening and found a big cave that eventually opened to the other side near the windy peak shown above. I followed, but the hole wasn’t nearly as easy for me to get through as the two of them.

Further on, the “major gorge” certainly lived up to its name. As discussed in the previous post, the rock in this part of Taiwan was mostly formed by coral and then uplifted to its current position. The major gorge is the gap between two of these coral rock formations. No idea whether the coral formed this way with a gap between or if the rock was fractured later to create the gorge, but the results are pretty spectacular. The gorge was never more than about 5 feet wide, and was probably 30-40 feet deep at its deepest. At the top, several trees had grown directly over the gap, cutting the light at the bottom even further. Some of these photos are several second exposures to gather enough light to register the picture, so Yusing and Mina look like they’re blazing through the gorge at light speed in one of them. In reality, most of the time we were slowly clamoring up, down, or over rocks.
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With time running low, we hurried back to the van, grabbed some quick lunch in town, and hopped back on the bus headed toward the train station. Just a couple hours after leaving the park, we were back on a train headed north at 180+ mph towards Taipei. Tomorrow we go to the National Palace Museum and if the weather decides to cooperate we’ll try to get to the top of Taipei 101.