Thursday, June 25, 2015

Travelogue: Hualien, Taiwan Part 2 | Conquering Taroko National Park in 1 Day

On our third day at Hualien, we booked a cab uncle to tour us around the whole of Taroko National Park (which is humongous by the way). Their national park is probably the size of Singapore (or even bigger?). Our friendly cab uncle happens to be a photography junkie and insists on being our personal photographer who insists on taking photos for us at every possible iconic place or angle. Our first stop is at Cingshui Cliff and it has a beautiful panoramic view from high above, overlooking tall and steep cliffs and ever-so-crystal-blue waters.

Our second stop is Taroko National Park Trail (Shakadang Trail). When we were there, some of the roads were closed up for construction and fixing because just days before, there were some falling stones and trees at some part of the park due to bad rain and weather. Boy, were we glad that we were there later. Just half of the journey we travelled, and it already took us almost an hour. Our cabbie tour guide also shared with us that the Bu luo tribe used to stay in the national park, but only to have shifted somewhere else as it was getting unsafe. However, some of the tribe occupants head back to the park (in the middle of the park to be exact) everyday to set up their mini booths, selling handcrafted items, such as these intricately done owls, which are all made from raw and natural materials from the park itself. 

Third stop is at Yan zi ko (translated as 'Swallow's entrance'). We had to stop by a patrol kiosk to collect our helmets before entering the district, as there might be falling stones from the cliffs high up (due to popular belief). We went through the tunnels and I was so amazed and wow-ed by the beauty of these cliffs and how magnificent they look. I feel so tiny at that moment. 

Before we headed for lunch, we passed by Ci mu ting and Ci mu qiao (translated as 'Benevolent Mum's Pavilion' and 'Benevolent Mum's Bridge'). The story behind the bridge and the pavilion is a touching one. Many years ago, a young man was lost and rumored to be swept away by the sea at this area. His mum was devastated and came by the river everyday to wait and look for her son. When the officials found out about this, they built the pavilion for her so that she could rest there in the midst. But the son never did come back.

Our fifth stop was to Bu Luo Wan Visitors' Centre where we learnt more about the Bu Luo Wan tribe. This has got to be my favourite part of the whole day trip. Totally loving the Japanese-inspired vibe of the nature trail. Leafy greenery complemented by old vintage wood flooring and barricades. Not to mention that the trees are the skinny and tall kind. I was so immersed in it, listening to insects making sounds as I walk through the trail. It felt like a mini Japan. :)

We then headed to our sixth stop, Chang Chun Qiao (Translated as 'Eternal Youth Bridge'). The bright and british-look-like red bridge really stands out and contrasted itself against the dull and traditional looking mountains and tunnels. We went into the rocky tunnel and basically, it was just a one-way tunnel that leads to nowhere. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool though. How often do you ever get to experience the realness of walking through rocky tunnels. It felt like one of those Hollywood movies where you hold a torchlight and listening to water dripping, as you make your way through the tunnel #vividimagination.

Our last stop for our day trip to Taroko National Park ends at Qi Shing Tan 七星潭 (Translated as 'Seven Stars Lake'). We watched fishmonger aunties kill and slice fishes that has been freshly caught by fishermen, play with a piglet which belonged to an aunty selling fruits, listened to a hipster uncle basking to Taiwanese-dramas-like songs, ate cheap and awesome ice-cream, people-watching (especially the group of cute elderly), learnt how to skip pebbles across the water and picked may pretty marbled stones. 

Spent our last night in Hualien visiting Zi Qiang Night Market. I think they have the best food among all Hualien Night markets (not that they have many to begin with). First time trying the Guan Cai Ban (Translated as 'Coffin Bread') and it was really delicious! It is a deep-fried piece of bread, which is then being sliced up so that the middle of the toast is stuffed with ingredients. Really like how the toast is like french toast. Adding this to my list of favourite Taiwanese snacks and delicacies. 

Follow more of my Taiwan journey 2015 here:
8 Things to do in Taipei (LaidBack Edition)
Kenting Beaches, Taiwan
Kenting Part 1: Water Sports + Kenting Night Market
Kenting Part 2: 9 Famous Sightseeing Attractions
Hualien Part 1: Nanbin Park + Farglory Ocean Park
Hualien Part 2: Taroko National Park

With Love, Quans

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