We’re certainly speeding through my adventures in Taiwan, aren’t we? Quite frankly, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since I’ve recounted my travel stories in Asia to you, but in fact, it has already been one-and-a-half, almost two weeks since I began my travel posts, all the way back to Japan! Incredible…
Any case, we’re continuing with our next stop during my trip to Taiwan this summer. After lovely (but hot) stays in Taichung and Tainan, my family and I headed off to Taitung (台東), taking a three-hour train over. However, once we arrived there, we didn’t stay long, for our tour guide there picked us up from the train station, and proceeded to take us directly to Hualien, which was easily another three-hour journey.
We didn’t drive for three hours straight, but rather we spent the whole day stopping at small areas along the way, as our tour guide introduced us to each place. She was a real talker, and a funny one, too: definitely was energetic and eager to show us everything that east Taiwan had to offer- certainly one of the my favorite tour guides to have met.
First stop was at a small water source, which doesn’t sound very interesting at first, but what makes it distinctive is that, although the source was built on an incline, the water flows upstream! Defying gravity here, am I right? Plenty of Chinese tourists upon arrival, but we didn’t stay very long to take a quick peek at the source.
Next, we drove over to a famous bao (steamed bun) shop, located among the trees and rural area of Taitung. We got there before lunch rush hour came, ordering both sweet and savory buns. The meat bun was pretty good, but I absolutely loved the black sesame bun, which was tasty in that it wasn’t overly sweet, and also had plenty of texture- I could actually taste the black sesame seeds! So good… 😛
After enjoying our baos for lunch, we proceeded to head over to a stop nearby a national park, where we got to see a lot of wild, Formosan rock monkeys- yes, monkeys! Native to Taiwan, these small, quite-adorable primates live peacefully within the trees and of course, are big tourist draws, as I saw with *another* Chinese tour bus that stopped at the same location as we did, feeding the monkeys slices of bread (which you aren’t supposed to do, but doesn’t stop people from doing so).
Got a pretty good close-up of one of the monkeys; if you look closely, you can see that there’s also a little baby monkey attached to the mother’s nipple (for breast-feeding purposes):
Our next stop was a brief one at Salifan, a small, landmark area with some Aboriginal straw statues and a coffee shop hut nearby. While not a lot to see, it was nevertheless quite gorgeous with the palm trees and small huts surrounding the statues. Very calm, indeed.
In the afternoon, we headed over to Sanxiantai (三仙台), a beach area known for its impressive, eight-arched footbridge that connects the mainland to one of the three islands off the Taitung coast. In fact, the eight arches are to resemble the curve of a dragon’s spine, as it dips and dives along the water- how creative is that?? Definitely a tourist draw, and it was nice to take a moment to enjoy the beach (considering that I live near the beach in the United States, seeing the coastline was refreshing).
Next stop was at Baxiandong (八仙洞), an archaeological site for caves along the face of a mountain that, a few decades ago, were discovered to contain old, temples. Besides the history, the site also happens to be along Provincial Highway 11, a well-known scenic drive en route to Hualien.
Before arriving in Hualien, our final stop was at the Cuestra, a natural area with massive, white rocks that, over time, have been carved by the wind and sea into layers, sort of like steps. Deciding to be brave, I climbed one of them, reaching the top to admire the coastline beauty, feel the lovely wind against me, and of course, pretend that I was “queen of the world!” 😉
After the Cuestra, we finally made our way directly over to Hualien, arriving in the late afternoon. We checked into our hotel, said goodbye to our tour guide (we would see her again the following morning for another day of visiting Hualien), and later that evening checked out the night market in town.
We didn’t spend too much time out and about at the night market, but we did get a good amount of food. Of course, we got stinky tofu again, as well as had other dishes such as pig’s blood cake on a stick coated with peanuts (and it was massive!), pan-fried mochi, and fresh fruit juice (a big thing in Taiwan, as it’s cool and refreshing for such a warm night). We didn’t get to try everything that we wanted that night, and ended up returning the following evening for another round- more on that in the next post!
Finally, with our bellies full, my family and I retreated back to the hotel, tired and ready to turn in for the night, especially after a long day of driving and stopping at many places in the Taitung/Hualien counties. We were to spend another full day in Hualien the following day, aka more exploring, and so we needed our rest for that!
Part Two on Hualien to come soon. Stay tuned! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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