Hua-lien Travel Blog› entry 4 of 10 › view all entries
June 1st, 2007 – by: seahlk
It was our first time doing white-water rafting. I did rafting in Ubin before, but white waterrafting is totally different.
Our raft consist of 8 people, 7 are girls and there are only 1 guy. All of us are university students (I JUST graduated). Anyway, the fun started when our raft splashed water at other rafts using the paddles and containers that we could find on the raft. It was just like a child's play. Of course, alliance were formed between some rafts to attack other rafts, and it was just pure fun.
The whole river is about 20++ km long. That is like half of Singapore's length. We only paddled less than half when all of us became to feel tired. So, our very nice safety boat carried us for a very long distance. Along the way, we came across a very big rapid, and our safety men told us to hold tight because there is a bery high chance of the raft capsizing. It was thrilling. I think no words can decribe how fun it was when the raft just went throught the rapids. Soon, we came to the half-way point of the journey and had lunch at Qi-mei rest-stop. Lunch was provided, but drinks are not. I think that was the best lunch I had up till then. We had rice, and veg and egg and something which I think is tian-bu-la. The lunch box was packed such that one side of the box can be taken out and be used as a spoon. And, all the lunch boxes used in Taiwan are made of paper. That is how much people there are doing for environmental cause. I really loved that lunch. Sitting there, having lunch, in wet attire, I felt as if I was 5 years younger, doing rafting with others in Ubin along the Straits of Melacca. Back then, we had lunch like this too, wet and dirty. I totally loved that. It feels great just to think that you have went back in time and became younger. Anyway, we set off again to cover the rest of the river.
AS our raft consists of mostly girls, our safety boat had generously towed us at many points along the course. Back very soon, we became more confident and just paddle ourselves. It was when our raft got stuck on the rocks, and we worked together to get out of the situation. The feeling of working together was soo nice. I dont really know 6 of those on the raft, but at that point, we had one thing in common to work together, and that is to get the raft out of the rocks, so, we jumped and swayed and moved from side to side. One of the girls went down and attempted to free the raft as she stood on the rock. It worked, but there was not enough time for her to climb back in, so she became the first person to fall into the water from our raft. There was an initial panic, but we recovered quite fast to pull her by the life-jacket up the raft again. It was the first accomplishment we had. Then we were able to negogiate more rocks and when the raft got stuck the second time, we were able to free the raft ourselves, without the speedboat's help, without anyone falling into the water and that was our second accomplishment.
We past through a portion of the river where there are many rocks...rocks with 3 different colours. We overheard other guides talking during lunch that those colouring was due to the fact the long long ago, that area was actually below the ocean. It was very pretty. Large rocks dotted the river and with tall mountains on both of our sides, I thought I was in wonderland.
Our safety boat towed us for a while and then they thought it was be fun to smash us into a cliff. Yes, we nearly capsized, but all of us survived. So, more water fights with other rafts, more towing as we were sooo tired, more views and thrills as we past many mountains and rapids. Very very soon, we reached our destination, Chang Hong Bridge and yeah, we made it, with 2 people falling into water, getting our raft stuck twice and being towed for many many times along the way. We got down and just went to bathe.
I was looking at the photos that the locals have taken, when a woman commented to me how badly burnt my skin was. Yeah, we talked awhile, I told her I got burnt yesterday at the ocean, then she said something which really surprised me. She said, yar, I think I saw you yesterday too. I guess the burnt girls are getting alot of attention from the locals because only the 2 of us dont know that it is essential to do skin protection in Hualien in summer. Suddenly, I felt that it was a good casue that I got sun-burnt. My skin became the ice-breaker for conversations with local, and it sure worked. People on the rafts and boats just asked me if I had gotten drunk etc. It was very fun.
It had been a tiring day, so we just went back to clean up. I went off to back dinner as well as to just roam the area as well as to wash my clothes. There is a laundry shop just outside our minsu, and it cost only 80NTD, which is about SGD4. While waiting for the clothes to be washed, I roamed the area just to familiarise myself in case we got lost again like the previous night. Actually, it turned our that all the roads and streets will lead to the road that our minsu was located. I noted some of the streets, and then I reached a Cheng Huang Temple that we saw the previous night as we tried to walk back. I didnt notice anything happening at the temple, just then I saw a dog behaving very strangly. Turns out that dog was afraid of the fire crackers that was lying on the road not far from me. It was the first time I come soo close to real fire-crackers. Yeah, we only get to SEE and HEAR fire-crackers in Singapore only during the CNY period, so it kind of excites me to be so up close and personal with fire-crackers. I choose a spot about 10m away from the fire-crackers and waited for the procession to start and for them to lit the crackers. As I was standing there, I saw another minsu that was quite well-known among Singaporeans, Stone House. Hah, Hualien isnt that big afterall. The procession soon became and people got down a bus, with flowers and joss-sticks in their hands. As a form of welcoming gesture, one representative from the temple then lit the fire-crackers, inviting the people into the temple. Wow, I was excited when I saw fire-crackers on a stage during one of the Chingay Parades in Singapore, but this, I was only 10m away from it. Though the crackers was only 1m long, I was quite happy for the fact that I caught this procession, just by roaming the streets.
I went back and whilst drying the clothes, the shop owner shared with me how Taiwan has improved, in terms of free-dom of speech. He said that they can even scold the President. It was fun, talking about such issues in the public, where if this kind of conversation can only happen behind closed doors in Singapore. Anyway, that is a true local experience.
I went out to get dinner. Because I have seen signs all around Hualien about some Lu Rou Rice, so I bought one. The aunty actually gave me more veg, haha, perhaps, she took pity of my burnt skin, but I was thankful.
As it was a very tiring day, we just slept early. Surprisingly, the day which I enjoyed myself the most, is the day which I took the least photos.
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