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Monday, August 24, 2015

Taroko National Park Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park 

Taroko National Park is located in the east part of Taiwan. It lies across 3 areas: Hualien County, Taichung County, and Nantou County. The eastern end of the highway is Taiwan's Central Cross-Island Highway that crosses the national park.

Address: Taroko National Park 291, Fushi Village, Xiulin Township 97253 Hualien County Taiwan, R.O.C

How to get there:
Take the train from Taiwan Railway Administration bound to Hualien
Travel time: 2 hours and 30 minutes (depending on the train timing)
Ticket Rates: NT 340 - NT 440

Taroko National Park ( booked in Hostel ) 
Tour Package NT 700

We booked our Taroko National Park tour with Clearsky Backpackers Hostel. It was a whole day tour from 8am till 5pm. Our excited toes was up and running before 8 in the morning for our tour. A van picked us from the hostel and thus raised our hopes of a great day, however, the van stopped at a nearby station. All the passengers including us were confused for a moment, it turns that the van was just there as a pick up service for everyone and the real tour was with the big bus. The bus was crowded with Chinese tourist and the tour guide was a bit rude to us for no specific reason. My advised to you is don't ever go with a bus tour, yes its cheaper than a private one but you'll thank me later when you do as I said, unless your Chinese then the bus tour would be alright. Good thing, we are used to traveling and fully aware of language barrier issues, and one backpacker from our hostel joined the trip too, she tried to translate everything for us. We totally forgot about the Chinese guide as we drove down the road the captivating view of the Taroko National Park is all we need to satisfy our wanderlust souls. 

Taroko National Park is located east of Taiwan and north in the city of Hualien. It takes an hour or so from Hualien City to reached the National Park passing by endless view of beautiful mountains, lush vegetation and flows through by the Liwu River. The bus drove in between the mountains and finally we arrived in the Taroko Gorge. It was as if a theater curtain  slowly opened to present their newest attraction. The winding roads leads to a marble-like color of steep,rocky walls and a crystal clear stream running through it, the gorge was breathtakingly beautiful. 

Our first stop was in the red bridge where the Changchun Shrine(Eternal Spring Shrine) can be seen. The shrine situated on top of the waterfalls commemorates all the 226 military veterans who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway from 1956 till 1960. Visiting time: 35-40 minutes. 

Everyone was tasked to have a short toilet break then we proceeded to the next section of the park along the connecting tunnels. The driver dropped us off in one of the tunnels, they called the place Jiuqudong tunnel or also known as "Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon". I can't imagine the troubles they went through making all the zigzag and tunnel roads. The bus waited for us at the end of one of the tunnels and drove further more to breathtaking cliffs and light blue waters running through big boulders of white rocks.

Food is not provided in the trip. This is something unusual, during my tour travels in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia everything was provided, most especially if you to go to touristy islands in Thailand like Phuket and Krabi. We had lunch in a restaurant, the only food outlet I guess around the area that serves food with an exquisite view of the mountains. Lunch NT 220

Next stop is the Baiyang Trail. We were advised to buy a raincoat to avoid getting wet inside the waterfalls. I've actually brought one for this trip but then I left it in the hostel, great mindset I have that day. Raincoat: NT 40. My smart friend brought hers from our trekking in Mount Kota Kinabalu last time. It was a short hike in the middle of the mountains and we walked through dangerous cliffs along the trail. The cliffs are safe just stay away from the sides, don't push around, watch your step and everything will be fine. After a short walk we reached the Cave also known as Water Curtain (Shui-lian-dong) Cave. We donned our raincoats over our clothes and belongings then we made our way inside the cave that leads to the waterfalls. The stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave looked like tiny sparkling swarovski crystals. It actually reminds me of my trip in one of the mystical caves of Krabi in Thailand. The raincoats kept us dry all the way to the end of the cave where the curtain-like waterfall acts as a barrier between the other side of the cave. It wasn't that strong once you get through it you'll realize how it got its name from. It wasn't really a waterfalls, the cracks from the cave made way for water deposits in that fragment thus making the waterfalls.  I had fun with this part of the tour. A refreshing break from the warm weather of Hualien. 

We meet a British Guy named Darren during the tour. He was on a solo trip, an English Teacher in China and currently on vacation. We had a small chat as we dry our feet and made our way back to the trail. We thought the fun was over little did we know we'll be crossing a suspended bridge further more from the trail. The bridge moves with every step we made. It was breathtaking and most especially for those with fear of heights, and that includes my friend. To make things more interesting her phone was attached to my untrusted selfie stick as I hold on it till we reach the end of the bridge. She was scared of heights and I was scared for her phone. We walked slowly as the video clip captures everything, with me constantly checking and ready to catch the phone it falls infront of me. It was such a funny video and it makes me want to record more videos with all my travels in the future. We took a picture with the two solo backpackers we've meet, the Guy Darren and the sweet girl from Hong Kong Preda. I believe that it's a good habit of taking pictures with people you meet during your trips, you can offer to exchange emails to send the pictures too. 
We were back in the road again and our next stop is the Qingshui Cliff, situated between Heren and Chongde on the Su-Hua Highway. An amazing overlooking view of the Pacific coastline where the blue waters sits calmly on the horizon as white waves crashes to the shorelines. I really wanted to stay longer here  it has an alluring ambiance that makes you want to just stand still and listen to the waves. However, the day was almost over and we have to get to our bus. 

Our last stop was the Heren Shingle Beach a pebble beach with a great sunset view. The road back to the city was smooth, we then asked the guide to drop us off at Shijan Night Market to have our late night dinner bonanza. 

We wanted to try authentic Taiwanese foods, the old school, old companies which means authentic flavors. 

Corn NT 80
Barbeque NT 60
Fried NT 70
Ice cream NT 90
Watermelon Shake NT 70

The two hungry girls spent the night eating like there's no more tomorrow. NT 500 was solely spent on food and it was a perfect way to end the night. 

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