Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Taiwan Travelogue: The Cross-Island Highway

One interesting thing I’ve discovered is that the meaning of certain words is different in Taiwanese English than it is in English-English. Huh? What does that mean? Take the word Highway, for instance.

Today we drove the #7 Cross-Island Highway. It starts out as a beautiful highway. It’s wide with double yellow lines down the middle and moves along easily at 60 kilometers and hour. In essence, it lives up to the name highway.

One minute we’re zipping along in beautiful mountain scenery. We passed a huge field of orange poppies: Then the immaculately manicured Chiang Kai Shek mausoleum. Then something happened to the road.

The highway was like a road with dual personalities…and suddenly the evil personality showed up. The complexion of the road changed. It narrowed a little, then a little more. Then it began to snake through the forest and up the side of the mountain; twisting and turning; even the switchbacks had switchbacks, until the Cross-Island Highway looked more like the Cross Island Goat track: And then I’m sure I saw a goat refusing to get on the road.

At times it felt like I was driving the car in the cartoons!  You know the one; the tires on one side of the car stay on the road and the others hang out over a yawning abyss. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here, but not a lot. Then the road got really narrow and the sun began to set. Then it got darker and darker. The conversation turned darker as well. It was like driving through a horror movie. It got so dark that we couldn’t see to the trees on the side of the road. And then it got really dark. I thought it would never end.

He tried to get Emily
We had decided to drive over to Yilan. People had been telling me what a wonderful place it was, so we thought we’d make it a day and drive the 7.  Because I hadn’t been there before, I was watching the mileage signs; just before dark we saw a sign that said 28 kilometers to Yilan. So we continued to drive in the same direction for at least 10 more kilometers when we saw the next sign: Yilan 32 kilometers…wait…we were traveling in the right direction how did it get farther away. Then I’m sure I saw him…In fact, I’m positive I saw Rod Serling hitchhiking with a sign that said “The Twilight Zone.” Then it got really, really dark; it got so dark that the boogieman had a night-light.

Eventually about an eon later we came out of the mountains and into a good-sized city. We stopped for gas and a man gave us a road map so that we could find an alternate route home.

All in all it was fun and beautiful trip through the mountains.  We were all glad we made the trip, but next week we're going back to Yilan and then to the beach but we're going on the freeway.  It may not be as scenic, but it's a lot faster and a freeway here is what I call a freeway.

The following are some pictures that we took before the road went all Twilight Zone/Zombie Apocalypse on us.

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