Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Highway 11

Driving on Highway 11, which runs north to south along Taiwan's east coast, is not for the fainthearted. People who have an aversion to driving poorly maintained, winding, twisting roads carved out of mountainside with impossibly steep cliffs that drop into the Pacific Ocean should not brave this road with their eyes open. Especially two days after a massive typhoon caused ten feet tall debris piles to accumulate along the side of the already very narrow two-lane road.  

If you can tame your heart's reaction to imminent death and danger, Highway 11 is a beautiful way to see Taiwan. Plus, it's the route you have to take to get to one of the best attractions the island has to offer: Taroko Gorge.

There are a few bonuses to taking Highway 11, namely Pacific Ocean panoramas in which green forested mountains meet green blue sea and the azure and endless sky is blanketed with fluffy white clouds. 

The whole time we drove, I was warring with myself: look, don't look, look, don't look

Besides the terrifying narrow and twisty road, there are other hurdles to overcome in order to survive and enjoy Highway 11.

Rudimentary tunnels, some that are pitch black with no internal lighting, punctuate the road. After driving through, you can look back and see that some are simply held up on what looks like toothpick stilts. It is not exactly a comforting image.

Beyond that, over sized buses also use this double lane road and end up hogging three quarters of the pavement leaving you only a sliver. Of course this usually happens when your car is already hugging a huge vertical cliff while navigating a blind corner.

Despite all the drama [that I created for myself and you can most likely avoid if you are a normal person], I loved my road trip down Highway 11! How could I not with views like this?


  1. This sounds like the Road to Hana on the island of Maui. I don't think I would ever drive on the road again. The views were amazing and the stops along the way were great, but I can't take that drive.

    1. You know, the whole time I was there it reminded me of Hawaii too!

  2. The views are so beautiful, I guess it's worth the death-defying stunts, right? We did the same kind of drive in Costa Rica on a double-decker bus - NOT something I want to repeat.

    1. Yikes! I don't think I could have done the double decker!