I feel that sometimes, its best not to research too much into a place you are visiting. You start to get all these fantastic and unrealistic visions about the things you will be seeing that inevitably you end up getting disappointed. The best moments I had in Taiwan came from unexpected places. All those things which I was disappointed in, may have been pretty alright if I wasn’t expecting so much out of them. But maybe much of the happiness comes from the planning and reading up anyway.
Anyway on day 6, we set out to see the main attraction that brought us to 花莲, 太鲁阁峡谷. Taiwan isn’t really known for it’s nature places, but from what I read from places like lonely planet, it does have quite nice scenery. And one of the natural treasures it has is 太鲁阁. After Alishan and Beitou, I was afraid that most of it would be hyped up for the purpose of tourism, but I’m glad to be wrong.
Our driver for the day was 叔叔. He cost us 120 in an arrangement with the 民宿. I suspect that’s what they do to survive by pushing their own private transport. I would have liked to at least have the chance to ask somebody else, given that the prices quoted elsewhere was that it would not cost more than 100, but given that he ferried us the night before and would be taking us to the airport it was probably worth it, but it was one of the most expensive items on our trip. My only regret was that we could only spend like 7 hours in and around 太鲁阁.
View of the city from some unknown vantage point –
Hualien has some pretty funky architecture like paintings on the side of workshops and this temple like university.
Got to try some of those famed betel nuts on the ride. Ugh.
And then we are here.
The scale of 太鲁阁峡谷 is really immense. Despite the many photos we took of the area, we could never capture the true beauty of the area because it just towers out and beyond the frame. The highway running across the mountain range was cut into the sides of the mountains lining the gorge by 5000-6000 military personnel using hand tools and explosives. Truly a feat of human perseverance.
Can you spot the frog guarding the gate?
If the water level seems a little pathetic, its because Hualien hadn’t received any rain for 1 month and the springs were running dry. They were still crystal clear and blue/green though.
More bridge shots
We came to a temple that had a small pagoda. We went to take a look at the temple itself. Twas nothing much.
View from outside
Our final destination for the day was the tunnel of nine turns, a winding section of the old highway which was conserved for visitors to pass through and admire the view. Before we went in we had to wear protective head gear because of potential rockfalls.
When we were coming into Taroko, we saw this group of campers trying to walk their way out of Taroko. On our way out of Taroko, 6 hours later, we saw them again, this time they were singing cheers. Can you spot them in the next picture.
Visiting the shrine dedicated to the people who worked on the highway.
One last visit to the beach before we leave Hualien.
A picture with 叔叔
All in all, Hualien was quite a wonderful place to visit. Bye bye, Hualien, hello Taipei again.
We managed to make it back to Taiwan in time to go to Ximending, a hip and trendy shopping area. This area has been branded as a Taiwan version of Harujuku.
Having never been to Harujuku, I have to say it is quite pedestrian. I think it is more for people who have some cash to burn because there are quite a few novelty restaurant (like this toilet restaurant that serves food shaped like you know what in toilet bowls) and shops. At least we get to eat Ah Chung Mee Sua.
For the rest of the night, its back to Taiwanmex. Whew tiring day.