Saturday, November 1, 2014

Taiwan Trip - Breathtaking Stones at Taroko Gorge

The previous night before we passed out, I handed my landlord NTD 200 (~SGD 8.5) for providing us bigger room for 3 people. I also handed her NTD 2100 (~SGD 90) intended for the bus tour to Taroko Gorge the next day.

When I got ready, she told me that the bus tour was so full that day so she sourced a private car for us to tour Taroko Gorge. She had two more people staying at her minsu who liked to join the tour.

Voila, suddenly there were 5 of us.

I learned my lesson. I knew I need to bought my train ticket beforehand. So, I walked with mom to Hualien TRA Station to purchase the ticket back to Taipei. It cost NTD 440 (~SGD 19) per pax.

After that, with the advice from our landlord, we went to 7-Eleven to buy some bento for lunch. To be honest, I was quite impressed with Taiwan 7-Eleven and the quality of the foods they sold. We spent NTD 245 (~SGD 11) for our bento boxes.

On the way back to the minsu, we stopped by one shop and bought our breakfast. I could not read Mandarin, mom was the same. So what we did was standing for awhile looking at other people's orders and asked.

We ordered a very thick sandwich with ham and egg and other stuffs and it was super yummy! We also ordered a corn egg pancake, a glass milk tea, and a glass of soya milk. When we was back to the apartment, we quickly ate our foods because we were too hungry.

This is the uncle that saved our tummy that morning

And around 9:30am, our driver picked us. We loaded our luggage onto the car, hugged the landlord goodbye and dashed for Taroko Gorge!

Taroko National Park is one out of nine national parks in Taiwan. In Truku language, Taroko means 'magnificent and beautifu'. Taroko is full of rocks and those rocks are not just ordinary rocks. They are marbles. Yes, the precious marbles.

Once we were out of Hualien, we can see the road opened up. It is a great countryside road like what you can admire in the movie.

I feel so serene

The driver told us that the distance from Phillipine Sea to the top of Taroko Gorge was less than 20km and it was one of the nearest in the world.

Our first stop was at Chong De Viewing Platform. In this viewing platform, people can take a lot of photos with the magnificent ocean and the mountain as the background.

The signboard
Mountain and its tunnel
The sky, the sea, the mountain, and I. How blessed I am.

The driver then brought us to Qingshui Cliff to have another view of the sea. He then brought us to the last course of the appetizer, Qingshui Beach.

Qingshui literally means clear water
Worth to see?
You can see the two railway that used to transport all the marbles from the gorges
This is the beach but I prefer the bird-eye view of course

And then we moved to our main courses. The driver dropped us at the first spot, Taroko Visitor Centre. This place is a huge building with a exhibit inside to show whatever information related to the gorge, like the map, the topography, the rock formation, the fauna, etc etc etc. The outdoor area of the visitor centre is as appealing. You can see the mountain, a nicely shaped grass patch, and some stone statues.

The visitor centre building 
Okay to be honest, I forget what it is 
The statue of the aboriginal tribe of Taroko
The sacred book of Taroko?
Overall view of the exhibit
One of the weasel that can be found here

We continued our journey to Shakadang Trail. This is trail whereby you need to take the staircase down to the bank of the river. After that you can walk along the river bank with rocks over your head.

The gate to Shakadang Trail
Okay I admit this is edited. You can't really see the turquoise color water.
The rocks are ABOVE your head literally
The trail opens up at one point

 It was about 12:00pm when the driver brought us for our picnic lunch. He drove up up and up, dropped us at a nice place which I didn't know the name and told us to have our lunch there. We found a bench and had our yummy bento boxes from 7-Eleven.

Yummy NTD 65 Bento Box
Our lunch place
The view from our lunch bench, I wish I can have this view ever lunch time

After lunch, we went to the main course of the main courses. This place was my favourite: Swallow Grotto Trail!

The entrance to the trail
We were dropped here and asked to walked until the other end of the tunnel. Yes, we should wear the safety helmet!
One side for vehicles, one site for people to walk. The rock is self standing and this tunnel was constructed by HAND.
Me at the end of the tunnel
Just W-O-W

The supposedly last stop before we drove out of Taroko National Park is Tianxiang. This place is like a pit stop with eateries and shops. If you don't mind walking and climbing, you can reach a Guan Yin Temple. I did not climb because it was quite late already and we should catch 6:30pm train.

The Guan Yin Statue and the Pagoda
Sit, relax, and take welfie

The other two people decided to climb so we waited for them quite a while before we could move. I requested the driver to bring us to Changshun Tzu Water Temple before heading out of the park. This is the place that made me decide I wanted to visit Taroko Gorge. A temple and waterfall. What a combination.

I just feel like this is maybe a screenshot of heaven

We moved on to dessert. The driver dropped us in front of the gate of Taroko National Park for us to take photos. I think it is a custom here to take photo with the signboard before you end your trip at Taroko National Park.

We can declare that we have visited Taroko!

Before sending us to Hualien TRA Station, the driver brought us to visit Qixingtan or Seven Star Lake. Qixingtan looked like a beach with so called waves. The black stones at the bank of Qixingtan are actually crystals. This place is usually utilized for cycling or concert. And that day, we went there to admire the skyline.

You still can see the silhoutte of the mountains
If only I knew they were crystals, I would have brought back some of the stones

And it was time for us to bid goodbye to Hualien. The driver drove like some action move actors through small roads. We reached Hualien TRA Station around 6:10pm, went to the toilet, bought Amei Muaji, rush to the train platform, and boarded the train.

Amei Muaji, the second best in Taiwan, according to the driver. And I really love it! Especially the chocolate and black sesame flavours!

Taipei, we are coming!

Love is in the air,
Little Feet

Next Post - Hello Taipei, Hello Ningxia Night Market!

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