Taiwan Trip Review: 花莲 (Hualien 1 day guided tour ) Part 1

Thursday, September 04, 2008 Posted by YY on 11:36 PM

Date: 27/06/08
Tour Guide: Vivien (A local who stayed in SG for 7 yrs before returning to Hualien)
Cost: NT3000 + NT3208(4 persons tkts on TRA)
Weather: Cloudy, slight drizzle
Duration: 0930 - 1900

Transport to Hualien: TRA train, 自强号 which departs from Taipei Main Station.
(Cost of NT3208 is for 4 persons, incl. To and Fro trips)

- Train ride to Hualien takes 3hours (cheaper tix) so it would be better to buy the earliest departure(0630) from Taipei main station.
- Tickets to Hualien should be bought online if possible. If not, it should be one of the first things to settle. Tickets are sold at Taipei Main Station.
- Food is not sold on trains, so eat before boarding.
- There's a faster way to reach Hualien, by HSR which takes 1.5hrs. Of course, its gonna be more expensive.

The planning for Hualien trip was met with some problems initially, due to return train tickets(Hualien to Taipei) were not available at various timings(was left with 9.30pm return..which will reach Taipei at 12MN omg~). However, after a call to Vivien, she urged us to buy whatever return tickets we can, since Hualien tickets are sold out real quick =( With a heavy heart, we went to try our luck the next day at the ticket counters. Oh man..this time there were tickets available at the timing we wanted 6.30am departure from Taipei and 7.30pm departure from Hualien *YAY*

We were looking forward to our Hualien day trip but it seems the weather was not cooperative(Typhoon nearby brought rains to Taiwan). It was raining for prolonged periods the day before our Hualien trip(the day before we were trapped in DanShui's Mac for some time due to rains) so we were praying for fine weather.

We woke up at 5.15am @_@'' cos the train is leaving Taipei Main Station @ 6.30am..we need about 20mins to get there from Ximenting station.

My breakfast, 肉松饭团 bought from 7-11 the night before, for breakfast @ 5.25am. Frankly speaking, it wasn't very nice cos the Ba Hu was not sweet, its salty.
So everyone got ready and we left our hotel 6.05am >_>''

We had a tough time locating the right cabin to board and there was no signs indicating if we were on the right track. At about 6.30am, a train came along and the LED sign says "xxx ,xxx,xxx, 花莲 - 自强号" so we gathered that it should be this train according to timing XDD

YH and YJ as above, as the train was departing the station.

And three minutes later..they were fast asleep -.-~zzz

I slept for awhile and woke up to see some fantastic scenery along the journey (about 7.50am)
Coastline scenery along the train tracks..oh wow oh wow~
I shook K, who was sleeping beside me and we were stunned by the waves (from the Pacific Ocean) that came from the endless horizon, which came crashing into the breakwaters... 一望无际的海洋。。。

Instinctively, I turned over to YH,YJ and they were sleeping so soundly..no response.
*Later on, after the trip..I showed them the scenery and they said,"Why never call me up??!!"*

After some small towns along the coastal line(I kept thinking of Hokkaido), there was vegetation and several stops before stopping at Hualien @ 9.15am which was earlier than expected since the ride was said to be 3hours =D

But this was not to our advantage, we couldn't find Vivien..cos our train arrived early and so we went shopping in 7-11 while lotsa cabbies hanging around the station kept asking if we need a guide. We finally found Vivien at about 9.40am and boarded her personal car.

Vivien then passed us a box of "曾记麻薯" saying that its made and sold on the same day cos it can only be kept for 24hrs and this shop is located all over Hualien *which she still wonders why till today cos Hualien is only so small, why bother opening so many stores?*

We had a pleasant surprise once we opened the box, fresh mochi with various flavours, coconut, yam, red bean, black sesame and mung bean. I quickly tried one which turned out to be coconut and wee~ its fantastic...and the potato flour was flying everywhere -.-'

As Vivien drove us through the roads in Hualien, we saw the dark clouds hanging above the mountains and we told her..its gonna rain. Vivien replied,"不可能啦, 花莲很少下雨。。只是过山雨啦".

Vivien then told us that Hualien is famous for 3 things. One, women. The beauty queens from Taiya tribe often went "mia" after winning the competition. It turns out that the Japanese have married these women cos they were fair and beautiful like Japanese women.
Second thing, marble. Hualien was famous for marble stones but now they no longer export these marble. Third, 块木 (not sure of the right word). The oil extracted from these wood can be used to treat external wounds according to Vivien..sounds like "有病医病,没病就保健" to me LOL~

Heavens decided to prove us wrong..it rained -_-'
Vivien took us to a stopover area(Entrance gate to Taroko & East-West Highway)and roughly explained the route she's gonna bring us to later.
She also mentioned that there used to be waterfalls that were visible from where we were standing but the waters from the mountains are getting lesser each year ='(

The only pic we have of Vivien o.o''

Some nearby scenery at the stopover area. We then drove off to the visitors' center for the loo and there we saw some reports on falling rocks..so it got me alittle worried cos we are going into the mountains!

We then dropped by Taroko Gorge National Park (太鲁阁国家公园) - Shakadang Trail. Vivien dropped us off and told us that we have 1hour here which includes the time taken for turning back to the same entrance she dropped us at => half hour to explore.

She told us about this story.. last time when she took some tourists to Taroko Gorge and told them the same thing about waiting at the carpark near the park entrance. But somehow, after 4 hours, the tourists still did not appear. So she had no choice but to call the police to file missing persons report. In the end, she even appeared in news! LOLOL~ It turns out that the tourists thought that by walking to the END of the trail, they would be able to reach the carpark..so they kept walking and walking and walking XDDDDDdddd

The above pic is the mountain trail that we were about to embark on for the next 1hr.

Once we arrived at Shakadang Trail , we were stunned by the blue waters that were slowly flowing through, together with the greenery. Fantastic scenery which we cannot capture through photos..even the slight drizzle did not dampen our spirits abit~

Along the trail, the smell of the air was pretty musky due to the rains probably...signs of falling rocks appeared on and off and I started wondering if my travel insurance covers such mishaps -.-''

In the above pic, we started seeing very large rock boulders along the river bed..The river was filled with small stones, large boulders but no sand. Some of the "rock boulders" were marble stones.

The "slit" in the mountain is the road we were walking along.

The enchanted blue waters

More of the river bed, the rocks are really interesting..but the pics could not capture their beauty :(

The "bends" in the mountains were formed due to plate movements.

We turned back earlier than expected due to signs of "Beware of falling rocks" became increasingly frequent and there were even broken fences o.O

We looked tired at the end of 0.5hrs of endless walking and picture taking, but in actual fact I think it felt better than the Yehliu trip cos its more cooling. We finally left the valley and hopped onto Vivien's car for the next destination...