Taroko Gorge is in the East of Taiwan, part of Taroko National Park, near Hualien. 4 million years ago, the Eurasian and the Philippine Sea Plate crashed together, forced up mountains in Taiwan, including the marble that had been formed within them by previous tectonic activity. Add to this 4 million years of the Liwu River running through this marble, and the result is Taroko Gorge. Taroko means "Magnificent and Beautiful", and I can't think of a more appropriate name.
The native people of Taroko Gorge are the Atayal, who lived here in peace until 1914, when the Japanese entered to gain access to the mineral and forest resources. The Atayal tried to resist them, and so naturally the Japanese slaughtered most of them. They cut roads and trails through the gorge, often following old Atayal hunting and trading routes, and it soon became a popular hiking spot. It's remained so ever since, and is now Taiwan's top tourist destination.
Because of this, there are unfortunately scores of bus tours winding up the road through the gorge. Fortunately, you can easily get away from these crowds on the hiking trails, and I'm much obliged to them really because it's due to them that Silks Place was built.
Silks Place is a 5* Hotel, in Tienxsiang, about half way through the gorge. Neither John and I are usually 5* hotel people (we'd generally rather rough it and have longer holidays) but we heard words like 'rooftop jacuzzi', 'swimming pool', 'all you can eat buffet', and we were sold! And when we found out rooms were only £150 a night, including dinner and breakfast, we decided it was the perfect treat.
And it was! We had a delicious 2 days there. Lovely, helpful staff, great facilities, absolutely amazing, stuff yourself so full your stomach aches for hours afterwards buffet dinners and breakfast, and hiking right on the doorstep. It was completely fantastic, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone going to Taiwan. Since we didn't spend any extra money while we were there, those days didn't come out as much more expensive than any others on our holiday. And it felt so luxurious, swanning about in a white dressing gown, swimming before breakfast, relaxing in a jacuzzi after dinner, sitting on a balcony looking out at the view and reading a good book...am I making you jealous yet?!
More about the hiking in my next post, but for now here are some photos!
Ahhhhh, the comfiest bed I've slept in for 6 months :D
Gorgeous setting too!
Children's John and Susie play area. Complete with Wii and Table Tennis (I really suck at both!)
Feet in the pool, relaxing by the fire.
John was so excited about having cereal...
...while I was more excited about the fruit and cake!
View from our balcony
Using the yoga studio before dinner
Selection of Asian dishes for dinner
Half of the salad selection...there were also cold meats, normal salad, and most importantly CHEESE and BROWN BREAD. Ahhhhh.
Cake and fruit selection. Hard to get a good photo, but there were lots. And they were all delicious. And I had 3 pudding plates a night. Mmmmmm.
And if all that wasn't enough, it came with a steak of your choice...we both had lamb both nights because lamb is amazingly delicious and you can't get good stuff in Japan. So much delicious, so much indigestion! Good thing we did lots of active stuff during the day to burn off the million calories we ate!
Relaxing in the rooftop jacuzzi after dinner
The little indoor pool. There was a big on behind where I'm standing, but this one had ducks ^o^
I hope that made you all suitably jealous...I certainly made myself jealous that I'm not still there! Ahh well, I suppose now it's time to work to save up for the next treat :D