This amazing landscape is located between Chungyang Range and Haian Range. There’re included the green mountain, clean river and the fields. Have you thought about how to explore the East Rift Valley? By driving the car, taking the light aircraft or if you want to try something exciting, you can try what we have done this time — the river-running kayaking.
Since kayaking at Qingshui Cliff is getting more and more popular, not many people notice that not only we can kayak in the ocean but also can kayak on the river in Hualien. Hualien River, which is about 14kms is the best place to do river kayak. Furthermore, due to the northeast monsoon, kayaking at Qingshui Cliff can only do during May to September. No matter how eager we want to kayak, it’s impossible for us to do it in the winter and spring time. However, river-running kayaking doesn’t have this restriction, we can do whenever we want to do.
Because of our friend’s invitation, we decided to try river-running kayaking in this summer vacation.
08:30 in the morning, we gathered at 7-11 which is located beside the Donghua University. The coach led us to Hualien River after everyone arrived and it took us 15mins by riding the scooter. By lucky coincidence, it seemed that a typhoon was approaching Taiwan and gave us the very nice weather. The sky was very blue and the leaves looked glossy and shiny under the sunshine. When we arrived, we could hear the babble from the river which truly made us feel cooler.
After everyone parked their cars or scooters, the coach gave us helmets and life jacket, and taught us how to wear them in detail. These equipments are similar to those of the ocean kayaking. However, because the weather was very hot, the coach reminded us of bringing the water with us.
When everyone got ready, it came the most important part. We followed the coach to sit in the shade of the tree. The coach told us every situations we might meet during our kayaking journeys and how to cope with all the situation. For example, how to paddle when you want to change the direction, how to paddle with your partner in the same speed, how to understand every structure from the coach and if we come across the danger, how to protect ourselves and give others a hand.
Even though the coach said the river-running kayaking is not dangerous at all, I still felt nervous about it. I was afraid that something bad would happen because of my careless. Nevertheless, in the same time, I was so excited to see the beautiful landscape of the East Rift Valley.
We hold the paddles and dragged the kayak to the river bank. Under the coach’s instruction, we warmed up, practiced every skills we just learned and simulated how to get back to the kayak when it capsized in the torrential current.
These kayaks were new and in different colors. They became more splendid in the sunshine. It seemed that all of them will take us to the big, surprised and glorious story.
When we put all the kayaks into the river, we practiced every skill on the boat again. We tried to paddle forward, made the kayak turn around and reviewed the gestures with the coach. Then we exerted all our strength to paddle the kayak, just liked the fish went back to the water and couldn’t wait to enjoy the freedom again. Every little move could make us happy and excited on the kayak.
About river-running kayaking, there is an advantage what ocean kayaking doesn’t have is that you can change the direction by the waves. Put the paddle on the side you want to turn, and the kayak will turn left or right as you expect amazingly. In the beginning, we tried to make a turn, speed up, slow down and do the good teamwork with our partners in the serene area.
At first, I thought it was nothing special about river-running kayaking. However, when we met the first bend, Je-wei and I rushed into the underbrush beside the river directly. We tried our best to struggle ourselves free of the underbrush, suddenly, there were another wave pushed us to the other side.
Different of brushes just liked different kinds of weapons in the martial circles. We played all the scene in the martial movies and we were the novices seemed to lose our competition at the very first act. We bowed our heads, crabbed our body, dodged from the left and hid from the right. We couldn’t find our way to let our kayak go smoothly. The several things we could do were paddling recklessly, poking the bend and trying to leave away from the underbrushes. In a flurry, I could hear the coach yelled the instructions to us, “Hey!! Find your balance and follow the stream, left…right…and left… right. Well done!! Try again… left… right….”
Maybe because we beat enough “enemy” and got the level-up, finally we could make the good teamwork with each other and started to understand what was “paddling with the stream”. Usually, when you sign up for the kayaking tour, you may share the kayak with the other person. The one who sits in the front can check what happen in front of the kayak and decide to change the direction or not. The other person who sits in the backseat mainly handles the paddle and follow the paddling tempo with his or her partner. The back one is like the motor of the vehicle, they need to give the power and support the kayak to move. That’s why most of the time, the one who has more energy, endurance and good sense of direction sit in the backseat.
Je-wei was a good helmsman. He started to direct me the speed and the direction of paddling.
After we could kayak slowly and steadily on the river, we not only enjoyed the beautiful landscape of the East Rift Valley but also made something interesting during our trip. We played the splashing battle, who won the rock-paper- scissors game would give loser a big splash. The water was clean and cool, therefore, it was so nice and lovely to play water during this kind of torrid summer time.
As long as everyone got the tips of kayaking, the coach encouraged us to stand up on the small kayak and he would take a good photo for us. Je-wei was versed in water activities, so he stood on the kayak immediately and even did some wacky poses to make me laugh. However, I didn’t have this confidence to move my bottom out of the kayak.
“Kayaking” is named from the northern Eskimo. In the beginning, they made this kind of small boat to hunting. They used the wood and seal skin, which was local resources to wrap up the kayak so that it could sail on the ocean lightly and silently. This transportation was made from nature, took from nature and used in nature.
The kayak we used today was not made of wood or seal skin, and we were not the hunters, either. However, when we got rid of our worries and panics, paddled and chatted easily, we were the traveler immersed ourselves into the nature. Looking at the mountain, blue sky and the fish and birds around our kayak, I started to image the life style of the Eskimo. They live in the snow world, and the only thing they can rely on were these kayaks. I opened my eyes, imitated Eskimo searching for their preys and tried to find some livings around us.
Because kayaking was a water activities, we didn’t bring any watch or cellphone with us. Besides, as along with the changing view, didn’t feel boring or exhausted and we even didn’t realize how many time passed. When we arrived at the flat bend, the coach helped us get off the kayak and take a break. Therefore, we dragged our kayak to the bend and felt extremely hot after we left the kayak. The coach reminded us to drink more water and taught us how to float on the river. Some of our partners already got wet because of the kayaking capsizing. So they jumped into the water without any hesitation. Owning to wearing the lifejacket, we drifted with the stream and floated to the lower reaches easily. The other people who didn’t get wet struggled for a while and walked into the water step by step. Compare to walk under the torrid sunshine, it was much easier to float to the other side. After the relaxation, we got in the kayak and kept our journey.
We realized what was the “real river-running kayaking” at the second part of the journey. The rocks were bigger than the first part and the river was more winding as well, therefore, when the stream hit the rocks, there would become lots of splashes. With this kind of view, we felt so excited and hold the paddle much tighter.
This was the most unforgettable part for me. Je-wei and I shouted loudly when whitewater came to us one after another. We used to buy the ticket to experience fake waves at the theme park, however, it was unlimited waves in front of us and free of charge. We raised the paddle above our head and found the balance in the kayak. We just relaxed and let our body waved up and down with the stream. It seemed that we had better not confront the tough with the toughness in river-running kayaking because it might occur the overturning easily. I believed that it was one of a lesson given to us by nature.
Not only the frequent waves, we also saw some people taking the light aircraft and said “HI” to them. They chose to have the beautiful scenery from the sky, but we decided to enjoy the landscape in the river. However, both of us were one of the special decoration in each other’s view.
There were some fisherman fishing at the bend of Hualien River. Luckily we were already familiar with the kayaking skills so that we could avoid their fishing rods and greeted with them energetically. They also gave as the friendly smile and cheered us up.
By the way, if you want to participate in the river-running kayaking tour, don’t forget to check the clothes. Despite they will provide the wetsuit in the winter time, we had better wear the swimming suit inside and wore the thin long sleeves shirt or jacket in the shiny color. Don’t wear the cotton T-shirt or jeans with you otherwise you can’t move flexibly after they get wet.
If you wear the T-shirt, short pants and short river-trekking shoes like we did crazily, after 4 hours journey, you will receive the souvenir by the sunshine— a pair of “new shoes”. It’s okay to be tanned by the sunshine, however, it’s not worth to get sunburn because of playing water. Be ware of the sunshine in Hualien, it is always hot and led to sunburn easily.
When all the kayaks pass through the Hualien Bridge, it also represented the end of our journey. The coach directed our kayaks to gather together and took a group photo for us.
The river-running kayaking is totally different from the ocean kayaking. The later is famous for the magnificent scene, however, the former gives us the enjoyment lots of variant views. The river-running kayaking also provide us many irritants. Hualien river is a long river surrounded by mountains and underbrushes. We saw lots of fishes, birds and even eagles during our tour. Therefore, you will never feel bored when you experience the river-running kayaking. If we said that the ocean kayaking is the elegant lady, the river-running kayaking must be the young and energetic girl. I believe that it must be very interesting if we sign up for the tour with some friends together.
We dragged our boat to the bend and walked to the destination— Gouxing Temple. We could wash our hands and the dust on our faces and changed into the clean clothes.
On the way back to Hualien City we drove the same road as we came in the morning and found the cows were eating grass pleasely. During the four hours tour, we started from worried, uneasy mood and changed to feel excited, in the end we went back to peace. It seemed not so hot after we relax and immerse in the nature. By the breeze blew lightly, it was exactly the noon time and we started to feel hungry now….