SOUTH Magazine September 2005.
Rafting On The
Closed: Laonong Whitewater Rafting Company
105, JhongJheng Rd., Baolai Village, LiouGuei Township,
County(07) 688-2996 FAX: (07) 688-2997
For details of other rafting companies, see: bolang.com.tw
--By Steven Crook, translated by Annie Liu
courtesy of Laonung River Rafting company
Taiwan is ideal for whitewater rafting: The
wet season brings huge amounts of rain, and the island's steep
mountains mean fast rivers cut through some great scenery.
Hualien County's Xiuguluan River has long been Taiwan's No.
1 rafting venue. No. 2--a few hours' drive from either Tainan
City or Kaohsiung City--is a stretch of the Laonung River
near the hot springs resort of Baolai.
Organized river trips have been setting off from Baolai for
more than a decade. We booked with one of the older rafting
businesses, Laonong Whitewater Rafting Co., and after meeting
at their office joined about 90 other floaters down at the
Everyone got kitted out while listening to a comprehensive
safety lecture (if you don't speak Chinese, don't worry; the
guides will check you've got your lifejacket and helmet on
properly, and will ask your companions to translate key points).
Then it was into the inflatables, eight to ten people per
boat. Everyone sits with one leg in and one leg out the boat,
except the guide at the back.
As a paying passenger, you're required to
do very little except hold on. That's not as easy as it sounds,
even with the guide and accompanying speedboats steering and
pushing the boats away from the most dangerous rapids. The
boat rocks and spins constantly. We almost turned over; one
lady on our vessel fell in twice; and we ran aground several
Whitewater rafting is safe, but not for the faint-hearted.
Don't be embarrassed if you scream out loud when the prow
of your boat suddenly plunges into a whirlpool of froth--you
won't be the only one!
The Laonung rafting course is 20 kilometers
long, and takes around two hours. Rafting trips are organized
between April and November each year. At the beginning and
end of each season, floats are often canceled if the water
level is too low. The price per person is NT$700 (NT$800 on
weekends); this includes shower facilities at the end of the
course, and transport back to Baolai. Calling ahead is advisable,
especially if you want to raft on a weekend.