Breathtaking scenes captured at Cingshuei Cliffs (清水斷崖), Jinyue Falls (金岳瀑布) and tiger lily-covered Liushidanshan (六十石山) are now included in a travel book on Highway No. 9 published by the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) yesterday.
The book, titled Let’s Go to Highway No. 9, introduces the special scenery and interesting people and sites along the nation’s longest highway. Starting from Zhongshan S Road in Taipei, the 475km highway continues down Roosevelt Road and connects to Beiyi Highway, Suhua Highway, Huatong Highway and the South-Link Highway before it ends in Fonggang (楓港), Pintung County.
Aside from the travel book, the DGH also invited documentary filmmaker Yang Li-chou (楊力州) to record his personal experience of traveling on Highway No. 9.
Yang recently garnered attention for his Young at Heart: Grandma Cheerleaders (青春啦啦隊), in which he followed a group of elderly cheerleaders as they spent months preparing for their performance at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said the project allows people to see Taiwan from a completely new perspective.
Unlike railways and freeways, which are now the nation’s primary transportation systems, Mao said highways played mostly secondary roles.
However, highways are closer to the lives of ordinary people than railways and freeways, he said.
“If you describe railways and freeways as a person’s outerwear, then highways are more like underwear,” he said. “Highway No. 9 is probably the only ‘underwear’ that can be worn as ‘outerwear,’ like Madonna does.”
Highway No. 9 offers lots of variety along the way, including different Aborigine cultures, hot springs and whitewater rafting, he said.
“These different elements are like pearls and it depends on travelers whether they want to string those pearls together to make a long necklace or a small bracelet,” he said.
Yang said he was working on the post-production of another documentary, The Long Goodbye, when the offer from the DGH came.
Despite opposition from his staff, Yang accepted the offer and asked his staff to rearrange the entire work schedule so that he could focus on the project. He said he started to rethink how he viewed roads when he embarked on his trip on Highway No. 9.
“When I drove on the freeway from Taipei to my hometown in Changhwa, each place was reduced to a milestone, like 202k,” Yang said. “When I take the high speed rail, each place is remembered by how many minutes it would take to get there.”
Yang said the trip allowed him to appreciate not only the scenery, but also to get to know some of the interesting people.
“When I saw a group of lads diving in the Jinyue Falls, I just wanted to do exactly the same thing, to enjoy life crazily as they do,” he said.