Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 4 : South to Hualian, Taroko National Park

woke up early in the morning to catch our train to Hualian (花蓮) from Ruifang train station...kinda cool to be able to catch a glimpse of the empty Jiufen old alleys in the morning...the town seems to wake up pretty late i will say...anyway the train ride takes around 3 hrs...u be able to see some fantastic sea view of Taiwan's NorthEast Coastal Area along the way...reach Hualian train station around 9 plus and was welcomed by Mr Looi (呂來福), our cabbie driver that i have booked for the day from Singapore for our tour of Taroko National Park (太魯閣)...he is really friendly and said that it was the first time that people actually called him from overseas to book him i told him i got his contact from the Tripadvisor forum...and he was really thankful and hope that i will help to recommend him more too hehe...went to many different places...couldn't remember the exact names now of the stops was walking thru the Mystery Valley (神秘谷)...the river water was really clear and blue...along the way u see signboards introducing the places as well as the florals and faunas u can find there...manage to get down to the river via a small path...the water was really cooling and the place very serene, so we took a long break there hehe...probably too relaxing a place that we forgot we still got other places to go haha...we also stop by the incredible Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞) and Swallow Grotto (燕子口), where u get to see those really steep gorges and interesting rock formations...stop by a few other places before breaking off at Tian Xiang (天祥) for there isn't really nice i would say haha...but we did tried the bamboo stick rice (竹桶飯)...thou i think those i ate in Vietnam tastes much better hehe...there is a small garden there where u can find lots of butterflies flying we decided to call it 蝴蝶谷 since we didn't knew the exact name of it...was trying hard to catch some of them...but they just wouldn't stay still no matter how careful and slowly i approach them!...after lunch we went to a few other places including Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠) which was built in memorance of those workmen who lost their lives building the amazing Central Cross-Island Highway...our final stop was at Seven Star Lake (七星潭) which it is actually the Pacific Ocean...and interestingly the beach there is packed with stones rather than sands...waves were really big...almost caught me a few times when i was trying to go near to the water...Yongwei and Huiting were busy hunting those beautiful smooth stones as gifts for friends and i manage to find a very nice one too to keep as souvenir =)...back to our minsu for a rest before heading to the night market at NanBin Garden (南濱公園) for dinner...after that we went to watch the aboriginal dance performance at a culture centre nearby...the costumes of the aboriginal tribe are rather special and i have always wanted to take a photo dressed in one of them hehe...too bad we couldn't make it to the Carp Lake (鯉魚潭) for the light performance that was going on during that period as we didn't manage to find the bus that was supposed to take us walked back to minsu to end our day...minsu owner was really nice...offered us fruits to eat and let us do stone i guess that is why the minsu is called Stone House (石頭之家)...thou only Huiting did it since i am not that artistic =)...had to rest early tonight as we have a tough day ahead tomorrow...white-water rafting!!!

Travel Informations
For people planning to do a 1 day trip from Taipei to Hualian, the following train schedules are the best and most recommended. For other timings, check the Taiwan Railway Website.
To Hualian
Train Class: Tze Chiang
Train Code: 1051 (Shulin To Jhihben)
Departure from Taipei: 06.42
Arrival at Hualian: 09.37
Estimated Time of Journey: 2h 55m
Back to Taipei
Train Class: Tze Chiang Train
Code: 1080 (Jhihben To Taipei)
Departure from Hualian: 19.30
Arrival at Taipei: 21.51
Estimated Time of Journey: 2h 21m

empty streets of Jiufen in the early morning

bye bye Jiufen!

at one of the stops at Taroko National Park

road to Tianxiang

i really like the clouds =)

errr....the red Bridge of the Kind Mother (慈母橋)

the blue and crystal clear Shakatang River along the Mystery Valley

woah! i look so miniature

another of Mystery Valley

me posing haha

language of the aboriginal tribe...looks abit like Malay according to Huiting

me and Huiting risking ourselves in the river @@

Yongwei enjoying the cool river water

that is quite alot of people there too hehe

dun cut my tongue!

Yongwei and Huiting posing with the umbrella haha

心如止水 finding peace with nature =p

Swallow Grotto

those little holes must be the grottos, thou i dun think there are swallows in them haha

nice candid shot using the reflection of the mirror =p

look at the deep gorges...notice also the rock that resembles a Red Indian's face on the right


groupie photo =)

nice clouds again hehe

our not so tasty lunch =/

hey...i almost got the butterfly!

closeup on a butterfly

Huiting at the "蝴蝶谷"

too lazy to climb to the pagoda haha


impressive marble formations!

一線天 or something...small river flowing between

interesting...a small pool plunging into yet another small pool

another group photo with Eternal Spring Shrine at the back overlooking the Liwu River

wat...the toilet is 800m away???

battle at 紫境之殿?

i hope the umbrella makes a good parachute lol

aren't we strong? =p

jumping at 七星潭

悲傷太平洋? can u sense the loneliness? =p

cute Doraemon cake

the aboriginal dance performance was really a nice experience

the minsu's owner cute parrots

Mr Looi's namecard (our cabbie for the Taroko tour)