After a long, but scenic-filled drive from Taitung to Hualien the previous day (for the post, see here), my family and I had another long, scenic-filled drive to look forward to during our second full day in Hualien! After a simple, complementary breakfast at the hotel that morning, we met up with our tour guide-driver, and from there we were off to see more of what the beautiful Hualien county had to offer!
A little bit of context: Hualien (花蓮) refers to both the city and county in the eastern part of Taiwan. Consisting of two national parks (one of which, Taroko, is three times the size of Taipei), as well as its abundance of beautiful, scenic ocean views, it is a very popular tourist spot in the country. I had heard (and seen from photos online) how incredibly gorgeous Hualien was before leaving for this trip, and I was really looking forward to it. 🙂
Our first stop was at the Hualien Air Force Base, where we happen to be there in time to see two fighter planes take off for practice. What makes this air force base interesting is not the fact that it’s located by the lovely sea, but rather its close proximity to Hualien Airport which because of this has created some problems for travelers, airline companies, and the country itself, especially when military practices take place. Any case, it was rather cool to have witnessed a practice round that day, while also getting a really good view of the beach across the street.
Next, we headed over to the mountains, where we stopped by a stream to check out the view of the green scenery behind it. Our tour guide told us to look closely at the mountains, for one can find the image of a young woman reclining, as if Sleeping Beauty. Can you see it? 😉
Afterwards, we proceeded to make our way to Taroko National Park, where we spent the majority of the afternoon there. We first went on a short, 1.5-kilometer walk on the Shakadang Trail, weaving under and over protruding cave walls and admiring the lush, greenery overlooking the river.
Once the hike was finished, we went for lunch at an Aboriginal cuisine restaurant within the national park, I believe. Lots of new, but quite delicious food. Even tried crispy leaves, which didn’t have much taste, but the texture was on-point! 😛
In the afternoon, we returned to check out more places within Taroko National Park. We visited Qingshui Cliff (清水斷崖), an iconic, 21-kilometer stretch of natural beauty. I would say that its gorgeous scenery rivals that of Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake (another place I had visited in Taiwan this time around) or, from Europe, the cliffs of Étretat in Normandy, France. Good views!
We returned to the cave areas in Taroko, including Swallow Grotto. Home to swallow birds, this particular area is peppered with little holes all over the face of a large, rocky cliff (hence the grottoes), and from time to time, you can see swallows flying overhead, performing “daring, aerial stunts,” as the information placard had read. Daring, indeed!
Before leaving Taroko National Park, we made our final stop at the park’s Gorge Suspension Bridge, which is to only hold a maximum of eight people at one time. Of course, there will always be people who don’t abide by the rules, but in any case, I was perfectly fine crossing to and from the bridge, even with more than eight people on it. Quite thrilling, I have to say.
In the late afternoon, we left Taroko National Park to return to Hualien City. Overall, my impressions of Taroko is that it was huge; way too massive to visit for just one day. I enjoyed what each place we went to had to offer, and if I ever choose to make another visit to Hualien some day, perhaps I’ll come back to Taroko, too!
Our last stop of the day was back in Hualien proper, where our tour guide treated us to some tea tasting at one of the city’s district. Good tea, too, as my parents ended up buying two, massive packs of tea bags and leaves as souvenirs. Crazy!
Any case, our tour guide dropped us off afterwards at our hotel. It was our last day in Hualien, and so we said goodbye to her, thanking her graciously for her hospitality and everything. Definitely will remember her, as she is a real keeper! 🙂
Like the night before, we headed out to the Zhiqiang Night Market for a Round Two of night market food (let’s go!). Got more pig’s blood cake coated in peanut, as well as needed to get the oyster omelette (蚵仔煎)- we couldn’t leave Taiwan without eating its iconic dish!
Also tried the small sausage in big sausage (大腸包小腸), which is, literally, a Taiwanese meat sausage wrapped in a sticky rice sausage, sort of like a glutinous-rice hot dog. It was my first time eating it, and man, was it delicious! Filling as well, but I ain’t complainin’!
To finish it off, I had a mango shaved ice for dessert. Not only was the shaved ice itself packed with mango flavor, but also it was topped with tons of fresh, chopped mango- perfect for the ultimate mango fest! True, it was a bit pricey, but for its size and taste, I was very satisfied. ❤
We returned to our hotel after leaving the night market; our trip around Taiwan was coming to an end, and we needed to rest up before we took the train back to Taipei the following day. Overall, I would say that it was a busy, but enjoyable five days of traveling to other places outside of Taipei, where we had pretty much stayed the entire time we were in Taiwan during previous visits. While I wish that I could’ve stayed longer in places like Taichung and Tainan (in order to discover and eat more yummy food!), I’m glad to have gotten a sampling *pun intended* of each destination. I have the desire to return some day, and only time will tell when!
Although my five-day trip around the regions of Taiwan is finished, I still have one, final post of my adventures during the last couple of days in Taipei. Look out for it soon! Take care. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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