long exposure

Tiemu Waterfall (鐵木瀑布)

Tie-Mu Waterfall (鐵木瀑布) which translates literally as "Iron Wood Waterfall" is a beautiful waterfall in Taoyuan's mountainous Fuxing Village (復興鄉) in an area between the popular Dongyanshan Forest Park (東眼山森林遊樂區) and Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布) and makes for an excellent side trip if you're in the area or even an excellent place to escape the hot summer heat for a swim in a chilly mountain river. 

The waterfall is a part of Xiayun River (霞雲溪), an important river that finds its source high in the mountains in an area between Dongyanshan (東眼山) in Taoyuan county and Manyueyuan (滿月圓) in New Taipei City. The river flows down into Taoyuan and eventually merges with the much larger Dahan River (大漢溪) a few kilometres away from the waterfall and ultimately flows into Taoyuan's Shimen Reservoir (石門水庫). 

There is an area downstream from the waterfall which seems quite popular for camping, swimming and barbecuing during the summer months but strangely the waterfall seems like it is relatively unknown and for some reason isn't really appreciated by travellers (and locals) which I find a bit odd considering the size of the falls and the close proximity to the road and a village. 

The waterfall is situated within the beautiful Xiayun Village (霞雲村) an Atayal (泰雅族) village just off of the Northern-Cross highway (北橫公路) - The small Indigenous village s surrounded by mountains and the river runs directly through it making it quite a pretty place to visit. While driving through the village searching for the waterfall there was a community activity being held at the elementary school which was promoting Atayal culture to the children who lived there. 

Getting to the waterfall can be a bit precarious as there are no markings that tell you how to get to the falls so if you plan on going remember that while Google Maps is often your friend, it isn't really to be trusted in this case as it will have driving around in circles.

To make things easy, before you arrive at Xiayun Elementary School (下雲國小) take a right turn on Kuzhi Road (庫志道路) and go down the hill, cross the bridge and go up the hill for about 100 meters before arriving at a small wooden platform on the right side of the road.

The platform has a spot to view the waterfall from above but it is mostly covered by trees, so in order to get a better look just take the stairs down the hill which will bring you to the top of a cliff where you will have a much better vantage point to see the waterfall.

From the cliff you can make your way down to water-level using ropes to scale down the rock face (It is actually quite easy so don't worry too much!) or you can turn right and walk down a trail that follows a path above the river but leads you away from the waterfall.

There are warning signs about deep water and swimming that are meant to dissuade people from swimming, but the pool in front of the waterfall is a pretty good one for a swim, especially during the hot summer months. On the day I visited the falls the water was only about shoulder deep but there was a current that would put you back to the shallow part of the pool. 

If you plan on going for a swim, remember to be careful and exercise caution. Fuxing village is quite remote and the closest hospital is probably more than an hour away. You don't want to find yourself getting seriously hurt while swimming. Also, when accidents happen in places like this there is usually a knee-jerk reaction from the government to shut down access.

This was the first waterfall I've had a swim in so far this year and I had a great time cooling off - The water was cold but refreshing on a 35 degree afternoon! I'm a little annoyed with myself that I have lived in Taoyuan for so long and never knew about this beautiful place until this year but I'm sure I'll go back many times in the future! 

If you plan on visiting, have fun and make sure to be careful while enjoying the natural beauty of the area!

Link: Follow Xiaofei - Tiemu Waterfall

Dabao River (大豹溪)

Taiwan and neighbouring countries have the unfortunate luck of being prime destinations for pacific ocean typhoons during the summer months. When Typhoons strike we always breathe a collective sigh of relief in the aftermath that the mayhem wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and in most cases if we don’t lose electricity or water service we’re even happier. 

The country is an almost perfectly formed island with the Central Mountain Range (中央山脈) separating the east from the west with the mountains forming a natural barrier saving the most populous areas of the country from the worst effects of powerful Pacific ocean typhoons. 

What a lot of people fail to realize however is that when a typhoon attacks, it does a lot of damage to the mountains, rivers, hiking trails and roads in the area. For Indigenous villages, typhoons pose a great threat to not only the safety of their homes but also their livelihoods as well. For mountain and nature lovers like myself, the destruction in the mountains caused by these typhoons means that certain trails will be closed for long periods of time and the landscape in some cases can be changed completely. 

After shooting Manyueyuan (滿月圓) a few weeks back, I thought it would be a good idea to go to the popular Dabao river (大豹溪) and get some shots to share with people. The Dabao River forms in the park from a few water sources higher in the mountains but it flows all the way down into Sanxia. These days the river is a popular spot for escaping the heat of the summer as people will go and swim in the cool mountain streams. 

Typhoon Soudelor (蘇迪勒颱風) had its way with Taiwan the weekend after I visited Manyueyuan and it did considerable damage around the country (including my place losing power for over 52 hours) and pretty much shut down Manyueyuan for a few months due to the damage as well as washing out a lot of the roads in the area leading up to the park. 

Click here to learn more about Typhoon Soudelor and the damage it caused.

I thought that I'd wait a few weeks after the typhoon left for things to go back to normal before heading back up again to get some shots of the beautiful Dabao River. I love the drive from my place through Daxi and then into Sanxia and up into the mountains. Its a relaxing drive and once you get into the mountains the air feels so much better than it does while driving in the city. 

Unfortunately it seems I didn't wait long enough and the river was still reeling from the devastating effects of the typhoon. The roads up to Manyueyuan were still in really bad shape, some were completely washed out and others simply just disappeared and had some safety tape up letting motorists know they were about to drive off a cliff. 

The river was still full of dirt and sediment that washed down from the mountains and it turned the once clean and almost emerald green water a gross cloudy shade of green which pretty much stayed the same colour from the start of the river all the way down to the bottom. 

Qingshui Bridge (清水橋)


In the areas where I got close enough to the river (a lot of places were off-limits due to the damage), the water looked really dirty and there was garbage strewn about making it look like it was just another polluted river rather than a beautiful mountain river with fresh, clean water for both swimming and drinking.

I did the best I could photo-wise to make the shots of the river look good, but honestly this is going to have to be a ‘to be continued’ sort of blog as I want to show the river in its fully glory when it gets back to normal.

What you're seeing today isn't indicative of the beauty of the Dabao River and I'm posting this to remind people that even though you got through the typhoon safely, there was still millions of dollars worth of damage done and in some places the landscape of this beautiful little island has been changed forever.  

Until next time.