One day in Hualien.
Oh, where do I begin? Taroko (tai ru ge in Chinese) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.
Hualien county is on the east coast of Taiwan. Lots of mountains, water and a fantastic gorge. A quick Google search and skim through Wikipedia tells me that Hualien county is about “4,628.57 km2 and occupies one eight of Taiwan total area yet despite its vast area, only 7% of the county area occupied by people. The remaining area is occupied by rivers (7%) and mountains (87%).” (Wikipedia, ‘Hualien County’) This is a place I hope to be able to come back many more times in my life.
Our grand adventure began with a ticket on the Taiwan Railway to Hualien (the ride is only 2 hours on the Puyuma train!). In true backpacker style, we carried nothing more than a few days worth of clothes and some Taiwanese jujube fruit (pronounced mi zao, deliciously sweet, juicy and crispy) as snacks. No prior reservations made – we were travelling after New Years Day after all, and the public-holiday vacationer crowd would’ve died down. We stayed in a hotel near the train station and set out around 8:30am the following morning for Taroko with a cab driver to take us to the different sights in the national park for the whole day. We were blessed with the best weather of Taiwan’s winter!
I tried my best to capture my favorite moments.
On the drive from Hualien city to the entrance of Taroko National Park, there was this vast field of wildflowers growing on the side of the road. It was so so pretty, a moment made all the more magical by the fact that the flowers were just by the roadside. Oh, Taiwan, you beauty. We got out of the car and soaked in the sight for a good ten minutes. As we drove away, I wondered how many massive tour buses had passed this stunning miniature meadow.
The Cingshui Cliffs, ocean cliffs that were formed by a geological fault between coastal areas Heping and Chongde, along Cingshui mountain. Ahh, the view truly takes your breath away. The water is so clear and BLUE. Varying light shades cobalt blue waves are sandwiched between the coastline and fluffy marshmallows in the vast blue sky, framed by the massive, sloping, mountain of marble. This is God’s creation!
Our first pit stop in Taroko National Park.
Walking inside the Swallow Grotto tunnel. I love the blend of swirling blue river waters and high contrasting layers on the marble slab, with small pockets of shrubs poking out in the former homes of swallow birds.