Cave of twisted entrails: Tunnel of Nine Turns
By Nicholas Cowham, Special to The China Post
September 1, 2005, 12:00 am TWN
The above composition - inscribed with large red characters - adorns a marble wall in the eastern section of the tunnel. It was written by famed General Huang Jie on New Year’s Day 1961 who, after traveling through the area, was touched by its grandeur and the accomplishment of man.
The Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuchudong) opened in 1996 after the completion of a bypass tunnel, built in order to reduce traffic congestion in the area.
The Taroko National Park Administration decided to leave the old highway in place as a trail for visitors to appreciate the breathtaking scenes as the tunnel snakes along the Liwu River - revealing the marble gorge’s sheer and majestic cliffs, waterfalls, springs, abundant plant life, as well as the wind phenomena caused by the configuration of the gorges.
The 1.9 kilometer trail is situated on a left fork, approximately 14km east of Taroko’s eastern entrance - taking around 20 minutes to reach by car. This is a very popular trail for tour groups, as it is suitable for all ages and only takes 30-40 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace. Tour buses usually drop groups off on the eastern entrance and pick them up on the other side.
If visiting after a typhoon or heavy rains, you may bare witness to one of the tunnel’s most stunning secrets. Thousands of cascades and waterfalls sprout from the solid marble cliff face, seeming to flow from the heavens. More spectacular still are the rainbows that dance across the gorge at the whim of the winds.
In order to prevent any confusion or debate between friends - the tunnel does not actually consist of nine turns; rather, the number nine simply stands for many.