Tsengwen Reservoir and Waterfalls

We have been incredibly fortunate this year to have multiple 3 day holiday weekends.  This doesn’t happen every year since some holidays are based on lunar cycles and others are date specific.   The challenge every 3 day weekend is finding awesome places to go that aren’t completely overrun by others also taking advantage of the 3 day holiday weekends.  This weekend we chose Tsengwen Reservoir in Tainan/Chaiyi county and were able to avoid most of the weekend crowd.  Tsengwen Reservoir is Taiwan’s largest reservoir but we were focused on the 15-20 waterfalls that show up on maps surrounding the reservoir.  We haven’t found all of them yet but we found 5 last weekend.

Tsengwen Reservoir on a hazy day from the spaceship looking observation deck

Two years ago this observation deck had been built but looked abandoned.  Since then they have built up the tacky touristy attractions in the recreation area and there is now a cafe in the observation deck.

Our target the 1st day was Feiyun Waterfall on the west side of the reservoir.  We explored several roads but we only had a general idea of where it was and where we were and we couldn’t find it.  Obviously I didn’t take this photo of myself.  Asher Leiss took it as I rode up a mountain in a fruitless search.

We did find Shuiliandong Waterfall just off of the road near Tsengwen Dam.  I was quite surprised to find this perfect grotto for swimming and it is still a little hot here so we went swimming.

Directions to Shuiliandong Waterfall (click here).

One great thing they have done with Tsengwen Reservoir Recreation Area is setup a large and free (with paid entry 100/50NT) camping area near the south entrance.

Landslides are a constant issues on mountain roads and the workers are reinforcing the hillside with concrete to prevent road closures.

We observed a target from across the valley and concocted a plan on how to get there.  We weren’t able to go here this time but we found this stream with several waterfalls above it.

Asher is scouting a potential trail to our waterfall target.

After a 2km roadwalk uphill through a betelnut farm the road became an overgrown trail.  We weren’t going to turn around at point.

First we heard the water and then we were rewarded with an amazing swimming hole and waterfall.

Directions to Caoshan Stream Waterfalls (click here).

There are numerous waterfalls upstream and downstream but climbing equipment is needed.

Rolling hills on the walk back to our motorcycles.

We quickly stopped at Chingyun Waterfall on our way to our campsite.  Chingyun is a very popular swimming hole near Dapu.

Directions to Chingyun Waterfall click here.

Our campsite is the island in the foreground right on Tsengwen Reservoir.

A morning guest at our campsite.

There were also 10-20 powered paragliders flying over the reservoir.

Just by chance Ken Nelson (Asher’s friend) was flying that day and took a photo of our campsite.  We are on the little island in middle right of the photo.  We are still there but we look pretty small from way up there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99TRuckvKPY

We talked to Ken Nelson for awhile and I took this video of another paraglider taking off.

This was the start to our hike on our third day.  On the other side of these seven sturdy pieces of bamboo is a water lover’s playground.  It’s not for those scared of heights though.

There is no way to access the area without going over the bridge.

There are many interesting pockmarks caused by water erosion.

And there is of course Chinglong Waterfall (Green Dragon).  Twice this weekend we had an idea of where to go looking for waterfalls but we were very surprised to actually find such amazing places.  We aren’t so lucky other weekends.

Directions to Chinglong Waterfall (click here).

We visited one last roadside waterfall on our way back to Kaohsiung.

Directions to this waterfall are available in my waterfall guide (click here).

The Kaohsiung Skyline

The overwhelming reason that I chose my apartment was the view of Kaohsiung.  I am very happy with the rest of my apartment but I still love the view.  I have a completely unblocked 180 degree view with the Pingdong mountains to the east, the 85 building to the south and Monkey Mountain to the west.  During the summer the air pollution (it’s bad) blows away and there are spectacular views of the city.  The only bad thing is that I typically am teaching during the evening and miss the sunset.  Here are the views from various times during the summer.

Sunrise to the east

The eastern view in the late afternoon

The blue hour

A common view to the south

Another common view to the south.

Kaohsiung gets 2 meters of rain each year.  Almost all of the rain falls between May-September.  The remainder of the year is a drought.

I think this is the only rainbow that I remember during my 5 years in Taiwan

Sunset

Sadly summer is ending and the air pollution will return stealing the sunsets.

Lost in the rain in Majia ( 瑪家)

I have known about this waterfall for 2 years and lately a friend has been teasing me with pics from his frequent trips back there.  I decided that I was going for a long motorcycle ride and check this one off of my long to do list.  Majia is a stunningly beautiful and mostly unknown mountain village near Sandimen.  Despite its enormous size Shalawan Waterfall rarely shows up on maps and I didn’t notice any signs for it.  I was even looking for the Chinese but I could have missed one.  There were about a dozen roadside waterfalls that were the location of many Moon Festival barbeques.

Sometimes I have problems finding stuff in the mountains since the roads rarely have names or numbers and signs are rarely in English.  Sometimes they don’t even have signs in Chinese.   I’m also a man which prevents me from asking for directions.  I went to the end of the three main roads that I found past Majia and Shalawan Waterfall eluded me this time.  At the end of one of the roads I found an interesting aboriginal slate house.  At the end of another I found a great hiking trail and the other ended at a great mountaintop camping spot.  It turns out that the slate house was pretty much the trailhead for Shalawan Waterfall so at least I know where I need to return to next time.

The most impressive of the road side waterfalls.

One of the ends that I explored was the Zhenlishan trail.  It doesn’t summit a great peak but in the rain today it was a stunning trail to hike.

That dark cloud basically summarizes my day in the mountains.  It rained and then it stopped.  And then it rained and then it rained until I reached the sunny

parts of the flat plain.  This was quite refreshing after a hot, humid summer though.

The trail was a pleasure to hike even in the rain.

I have always enjoyed walking in clouds.

It really was an easy trail to walk.

It was just one of those days.

Looking north towards Wutai before more rain came down.

todays rainfallI’m pretty sure that I was inside of one of the those red dots in southern Taiwan this afternoon.

Some links including a great Kickstarter project (Africa)

As a traveler you meet all sorts of people.  Some of these people go back to normal lives but others continue to live the dream.  Some us lead semi-normal lives while sometimes living the dream.  Even if you are not chasing down the latest adventure in an exotic country there is still an opportunity to live vicariously through those that do incredible writing, photography and videography.  Here are a few of the incredible independent travelers that I have been following recently.

Click image for kickstarter link

I haven’t actually met Francis Tapon but he’s a friend of friends.  He hiked the Pacific Crest Trail the year before I did and followed that up by exploring Eastern Europe for a couple of years.  After that he published an excellent book (Hidden Europe) about the history and current situation in each Eastern European country.  This time instead of writing about his travels he’s making videos to expand his audience.  He is planning on visiting all 54 African countries during the next 4 years.  Thishe wants to film a TV series about his travels.  The goal of his kickstarter project is to finance a professional level pilot that could turn into a TV series.  Below is a trailer for the pilot that describes why his particular show is important and what it offers that is different from the content that is currently out there.  There are 2 weeks left and he still needs to raise 3000 dollars.

These two Australians have been cycling all over Asia for more than a year and this is the twelfth short video that they have made about their travels.  Someday (when I have more time) I would like to add this type of videography to my travel blogging.  I love these videos and can never wait for the next one to be posted.

Out Of Order (hiker nickname) was someone that I seemed to always be near (20-50 miles) on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 but I think I only saw him once.  He set out on an ambitious adventure 2 years ago.  He kayaked from Minnesota to Louisiana to Florida to New York and back to Minnesota.  His trip is finished but it was an amazing feat and he told some amazing stories on his blog.  This is also worth checking out.  Link to Blog

We meet all sorts of people in our travels.  One of the best hiking resources in Taiwan just happens to be a concert pianist.  Richard performed at a concert hall in April and he has seven short youtube videos of his performance.

Photo of the week #46

Yesterday’s haul at the Jiuru farmers market.  700NT or 23USD and the cherries were 1/3 of the cost.  Everything except the apples and cherries are from Taiwan (I think).

We are getting 2-3 light rainstorms every day.  Just carry your raingear everywhere.

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