Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Taroko Music Festival

Good news: My poor busted ankle has finally recovered enough for me to do some hiking again. To celebrate, I headed down to Taroko Gorge National Park to support my friend, fellow Fulbright ETA and French horn playing pro Dan Severson, who was playing in the annual Taroko Music Festival. To celebrate Taiwan's 100th birthday, this year the festival organizers decided to bring in 100 French horn players for one epic concert in Taroko.
Dan doing some last minute rehearsing before the concert
 They had free shuttle buses running from the train station to Taroko's visitors center (where the concert was being held). When Christine and I boarded our bus, the volunteer tour guide on board got on the loud speaker and started giving everyone all of the details about the concert and the day's events. But the highlight of her speech was when she announced: "And this year, we have two foreigners in the French horn group!" Although our fellow bus riders had been pretty quiet up until then, at this announcement everyone gasped and started excitedly discussing whether or not the foreigners were "shuai ge" (handsome boy) while Christine and I, the only non-Taiwanese people there, tried unsuccessfully to contain our laughter.

We got to the park at about noon and Dan's concert didn't start until 2, so Christine and I met up with Dan's wonderful LET Angela, who was also there early, and decided to hike Shakadang Trail.
Angela and I at the trail-head (which is actually a big staircase that leads to the base of a bridge)
Taroko is famous for it's great hiking and absolutely breathtaking scenery and I can tell you it doesn't disappoint. The lovely afternoon weather didn't hurt either (it didn't start raining until later). The trail we took ran along a long cliff overlooking the bluest river I've ever seen.
Look how blue it is! *I swear no photoshop was  involved in the making of these pictures*

But, just to make sure that you don't let the beauty of the place lull you into a sense of false security, the park has lots of signs like this to remind you that you just might die there at any time and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it:
"Falling rocks no stopping." 没办法 (mei ban fa), I guess you'll die.
By the time we got back to the concert venue, the show was about to start. All the chairs were full, so Christine and I watched the beginning of the concert from a tree (Angela refused to climb up with us). We soon became a source of great interest for all of the photographers and camera-men who were covering the event.
Making a scene as usual
The concert itself was very fun. I can't think of a much cooler venue than the bowl in the middle of a ring of gorgeous green mountains. My favorite moment of the day was when they played the "Jurassic Park" theme song since the whole area felt like something out of Jurassic Park already. Whoever made the fantastic decision to add that song into the repertoire, I salute you.  
Just wait... the raptors are coming...
Hangin with the star of the show!

1 comment:

  1. The awesome adventures just keep coming, Gabrielle! That water is incredible!!!! And the scenery is phenomenal! Know you are having a great time with the family!! St. A. home was amazing as usual. We had a great time there.

    Hope your ankle continues to heal well, and glad you are not letting it stop you! You're amazing, and I'm SO very proud of you!