I Survived Yue Mei Kang: Bear Grylls’s Got Nothing On Me

 “I don’t think we’re going the right way” is how our real adventure started.

Mal and I had heard about a river trace in Jiaoxi and though it would be a great Sunday trip. We didn’t really know what to expect, or honestly, where we were going, but found a promising trail.

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The trail is steep and chalked with forks, so like any would-be Indiana Jones we started following the mysterious red arrows painted on rocks and trees. We had been meaning to get to the river but instead were climbing a mountain.

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That’s when we decided to back track and our story starts to get interesting. After winding our way back to the river, it was time to cool off. We split from the trail and found a great little fall to swim at. The water was fresh and cool and the perfect depth to do cannon balls off the fall.

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All of a sudden we were in the midst of forty Chinese tourists and the luxury of our secluded private pool was quickly lost.

They all headed back down on the path we had taken up, so we made the most obvious choice, leave the safety of the trail and follow the river all the way back down to the park entrance.

It started out easy enough with a few easy traverses down into shallow pools, but when we got to the third waterfall things got real. At this point it was still completely feasible to turn back and get back on the trail but being headstrong adventurers (idiots) we forded onward.

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This particular waterfall was beautiful but too high to safely leap, luckily for us there was a slippery mud soaked rope that went down, under a rock bridge and off a small overhanging boulder. While, this rappel wasn’t all that high, it was awkward and the rope was less than confidence inspiring.

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After that we were sure that we were on easy street…NO. Just past our treacherous abseil was an even gnarlier waterfall. Mallory uneasily pointed out that the rock bolts on the edge probably meant that it was going to be a rough climb down. She was right.

Getting down involved straddling the fall and then sidling up as close to the right side and jumping out as far as you possibly could, all the while hoping and praying that there wasn’t a hidden rock to break your fall.

I went first and to my great relief it was a deep pool with a relatively mild current.  Mal was getting ready for her leap of faith, and what do you know, her biggest jungle fear showed up to keep us company, a snake swam right down the fall and was wading in the pool.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do about it though and we splashed past it without getting bit (honestly it was probably harmless, but no sense in testing it out). After that we had a nice easy wade back to the trail to little the adrenaline settle.

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The main attraction, Yue Mei Kang Fall, is an awesome sight. It’s relatively tall with a wide, shallow pool at the bottom. This is a perfect summer time trek.

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If you go to the base of Wufengxi trail, instead of going up the stairs cross the river where all the kids swim and head up the dirt trail. Getting to the base of the fall and back down should take an hour or two. Safe travels!

This site has good instructions on getting up to the fall.

http://www.mandarintaiwan.com/2/post/2011/09/yang-mei-kang-waterfall-hike.html

Typhoon-o-rama

When I was a kid we had snow days. Here in Taiwan they have Typhoon days.

Well it’s typhoon season again. Typhoons come and go here with little impact on the urban areas. The season goes from July to August, the rest of the year it’s just normal storms.

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We are slated to see the first of the season on Friday. While the Typhoons I’ve been in haven’t been all that pleasant, they have been relatively benign. This on the other hand threatens to be a more spectacular storm.

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Typhoon Morakot, in 2009, hit Taiwan hard and resulted in around 600 fatalities. The next year an equally intense storm (Megi) resulted in at least 25 deaths. Soulik is predicted to bring similar rains and winds, but if we are all smart and safe, less fatalities.

The Taiwanese government has been much more proactive in canceling school and work when there is a typhoon risk, but it is also important to know what you can do to ensure your safety.

Here are a few tips that may help you in a dangerous storm:

In high winds be wary of falling glass and roof tiles

Avoid the coast if possible, water rises quickly and the seas become violent

Avoid places that are landslide prone.

In all honesty Taiwan is very safe as far as storm preparedness, however it is good to know what to expect; hope for the best and plan for the worst.

I hope I didn’t worry anyone, just be safe out there. If you are interested in more information about storm preparation check these sites out, http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/contents/wdu020/enjoy/en/emergency/06.html, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php.

Really my best advice is to make some hot coffee and watch your favorite TV show from the comfort of your house; relax and let it all blow over.

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Taiwan-a-saurus Rex

One of my favorite things to do is to get on my bike and cruise. I love the exercise and biking affords me the opportunity to take unusual routes. By going off the beaten path I’m able to discover my neighborhood and my city at large.

Yilan is a “small” city in Taiwan. For a city of about 29,000 it is very spread out. There are sprawling rice patties all around and large swaths of area devoted for tea growing in the mountains. The downtown areas are full of bustling markets and winding alleys. By cycling (no pun intended) I have found out way more about my city than I would by driving or taking public transport (plus the Yilan bus is a little worthless).