Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hey you! Go jump off a cliff!

So now that you're finally all caught up on my winter vacation activities, I can move on to more what's actually happening in my life nowadays. So let's start with this: last weekend, I jumped off a cliff. Okay, so maybe jumped isn't really the right word. Technically speaking, I ran off a cliff. But whatever, semantics.
On the mountain top getting ready to go paragliding!
Siena, Christine, and I woke up Sunday morning and drove out to Wai Ao (外澳) Beach in Toucheng (northern Yilan County). The paragliding place turned out to be a ramshackle little shack down a dirt road on top of the mountain behind the train station. In other words, if Siena hadn't been driving, we would never have found it.
Okay, so they don't exactly have a classy headquarters
Their waiting area isn't that classy either. But the view was phenomenal!
When it came time to actually suit up and go, Siena looked over the cliff edge and started getting a little nervous, so I volunteered to go first.
Getting all geared up!
Working the whole backpack/chair look
Siena was the excited kind of nervous
My coach and I getting in place to run

跑步, 跑步! (Run, run, run!) Yeah, my coach didn't speak any English so all my instructions were in Chinese.
Whee!!! Look at me, I'm flying!!! 
The whole flight only lasted about 5 minutes but it was amazing! We flew over the town of Wai Ao, getting a fantastic view as we went, and landed on the beach. Despite her nervousness going into it, when Siena landed, her first words to me were, "Let's do it again!" So I think it's safe to say that fun was had by all. 
We survived!
After we were done with paragliding, we headed over to Mr. Brown's Castle, which is on the same mountain, for some coffee and lunch. And, of course, great views of the mountains, the beaches, and Turtle Island. 

Then, to finish off a great afternoon, we headed to the Lanyang Museum, a natural history museum about Yilan County. The museum is excellent, especially the architecture. The building was created to imitate one of the area's unique geological formations, "cuestas" or cliffs formed by rock layers pushing up from the Earth's crust, leaving multiple layers exposed.
Can you see the cuestas?
Alms for the poor in the local history section
A Nan Fang Ao fishing boat that was donated to the museum 
A picture map of Yilan County. This was one of my favorite exhibits.

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