Tíng xà lái! Dao Lù fēngbì! (Stop! This road is closed!)
We were about to pass through Hehuanshan area when our van was stopped by some officers. Unlike me, my dad speaks Chinese fluently so he accompanied our driver to find out what was going on....
|Taroko National Park|
A few hours earlier...
After a night stay in Hualian area, that morning we planned to do the Hualian - Hehuanshan - Cingjing Farm route which normally takes about 4 hours. It's one of the deadliest route in Taiwan because the narrow winding roads up, sudden storm and landslide. There's only few drivers who has the courage to choose the route even though it's a shorter journey.
Our van ran slowly through the Taroko National Park or famously known as Taroko Gorge. The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago when the sediment on the bottom of the ocean collected and eventually hardened into limestone, after some tectonic compression it metamorphosed into marble. The view is undoubtedly breathtaking with one side of marble mountain and pristine river on the other side. I felt so tiny when I look at the steep cliffs towering up disappear into the clouds. I've been there many times before but it still amazes me.
|steep cliffs and river|
|the rest area|
It was already midday when my family decided to stop at the rest area. The temperature became chilly because it started raining and foggy. We had a quick lunch and continued the journey. The van ran slowly through the winding mountain road. The higher we went, the road became narrower and narrower. The path along the mountain ridge was flanked by rocky cliff and deep ravines on the other side. My heart skipped a beat and I held my breath every time our van passed a car from opposite direction. After more than an hour the fogs faded and I could see some blue skies when I noticed that I was actually above the clouds. Believe me, the view was so splendid that my pictures don't do justice.
|an ancient tree|
|could barely see the road|
|literally above the clouds|
My Dad tried to talk with the officers and they insisted it was too dangerous for our van to climb the slippery road of Hehuanshan. They let some smaller cars passing through after fitted the snow chain to the tires. We were quite worried at that time since we have booked and paid our hotel in Cingjing Farm so there's no way to cancel it. After some discussion, my Dad and the officers came back with a conclusion. We had to hire snow chains plus 2 officer cars to tow our van just in case it would not able to drive up the steep and slippery slope. We had to fork TWD 5000 for their service since we didn't any find better options.
|installing the snow chain for our van (please ignore the butt flashing)|
|getting darker + snowstorm|
|reaching the highest point|
"Stop! You must stop here now! The snowstorm is coming, stay inside the car!" The officers shouted and frantically waving their hands towards our van.
It was already pitch black outside then I heard the scary blizzard sound and our van began to shake. My family just anxiously sat in silence and I put my jacket on as it was getting really cold that my toes started to feel numb. Over 15 minutes later, one of the officers came back knocking our car and told my driver to start driving slowly as we were going down the mountain. It would be really dangerous for any sudden braking.
|tired but happy to be "home"|
After an hour drive which to me felt like forever, I was so relieved when we finally reach the warm and cosy Shangrila Hanging Garden Resort in Cingjing Farm. I couldn't wait to snuggle in my comfy bed and having a cuppa of hot chocolate to wind down after a thrilling journey.