We really lucked out today. A lot of visitors who come to see Taroko Gorge on the East Coast of Taiwan oftentimes encounter rain and low visibility, but for us for almost the entire day, it was blue skies and a few clouds. We hired a private guide-driver to take us around, and she seemed really excited to learn that I could speak some Chinese. She chattered away with me about everything from living in the U.S. to race relations to exercise, and she told us that the East Coast of Taiwan, mostly overlooked by foreign visitors, is the favorite place for most Taiwanese when they want to travel in their own country. It’s not hard to see why: the beauty of the mountains, cliffs, and the stunning Pacific Ocean are there. Further to the southeast of Taiwan are the islands and the beaches where Taiwanese people often go for holidays for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Given that it is lesser touched, I’d imagine it would be extremely pristine there. The Qingshui Cliffs, or “clear water” cliffs, was one of my favorite spots that we visited today.
One thing I hadn’t thought about much when visiting Taiwan was the butterfly life here. I thought about the animals and the exotic fruit, but was stunned to see so many gorgeous butterflies everywhere, ranging in size and colors. Taiwan is known as one of the butterfly kingdoms in the world. These huge black butterflies with red-tinged tips were so big that Chris initially thought they were birds. The ones I loved the most were about three inches in wing-span, outlined in black, with a nearly florescent pale blue and purple color. There were also swallowtail butterflies that I’d never seen before but had identified in a butterfly book long ago, a combination of black outlines, pale yellow, red, and blue. I don’t think they are indigenous to this area, but they made it here somehow. Almost all the butterflies were multicolor and fluttering around in groups. It was almost surreal.