Taiwan #3: Sandiaoling

While based in Taipei, we went on our second day trip; this time we decided to get a closer look at some of the beautiful nature in Taiwan and hike the Sandiaoling waterfall trail.

We took the train out from the city and walked along the tracks for about a mile to reach the entrance of the hike. There we saw a young couple taking wedding photos. There was small derelict town at the base of the hike. The entrance to the hike started beside the town's local elementary school. We walked up the moss covered steps and slowly began to disappear into the forest.

Shortly after beginning our trek, we ran into a massive worm, which I forced Tiana to stand next to for scale. It was easily the biggest worm I've ever seen. I tried to do some research and find out more about this creature but was having a hard time, partially due to another bizarre worm that was discovered in Taiwan. In general there are a lot of large and strange bugs in Taiwan, which I find deeply interesting.

Shortly after passing a temple area and some other crumbling structures, we came to a lookout with an incredible view of the first waterfall. This view really gave context to the power of falling water within the vastness of the mountainous forest around it. As we watched, large butterflies with unique colored patterns flew all around us.

We crossed a pair of suspension bridges over the water, noticing schools of vigorous fish swarming below.

We saw the white splashing water through the leaves and branches. Soon we were practically right under the falls. I didn't truly appreciate the beauty and scale until that point. The water came shooting over the edge of the jutting rock at the top and crashing onto a large rock below. The cliffside hidden behind the waterfall was concave, carved out from the water. We could feel the mist on our skin.

We hiked up a steep staircase next to the falls. Some of the steps were metal, but most were carved into the stone cliff. Along the way, we were greeted by a friendly black dog that was waiting on the precipitous steps. It was unclear to us how exactly he got there and whether or not he was able to climb the steps. We were told he belonged to someone at the temple located above us. He whimpered a bit as we walked up, making us think he was unable to climb. We agreed to look for someone up above and decide how to help him if we couldn't find anyone.

As we got to the top, there was another waterfall in front of us and an amazing view over top of previous waterfall we had just seen. It was amazing to see the water simply end and peer out into the open air and mountains beyond. We noticed another couple behind us, and one of them was actually carrying the dog! The dog happily came up to the water and drank thirstily. He then went to the edge of the cliff and peered out, seeming to reflect on existence.

As he was expertly tiptoeing the edge of the cliff, showing no fear of heights, I noticed a possible path to the steps where he'd been "stuck". Maybe I'm cynical but I think it's possible the dog was a con-dog who realized he could get people's sympathy (and more importantly, food) by appearing trapped on the steps. If that it is the case, I can't even be mad. Respect.

I was curious about the concave cliffside underneath the falls below, so we decided to explore that a bit before heading back. We found a damp and muddy underside. The rock had a wonderful texture which appeared to be a mixture of deposited minerals and plant matter. There were also a number of surprisingly large plants practically growing upside-down on the cliff wall.