If I had gone on this holiday alone or with like-minded company, I would have loved to spend a couple of days in Hualian and do some biking, trekking or white water rafting in the beautiful Taroko Gorge. But since I was in Taiwan with family, my priority was to make sure that everyone had a great time.
Mum loved to sightsee but would not be able to take hiking the gorge or anything strenuous so I had engaged a popular driver, Mr Lu, to take us around the place. My sister is less of a nature person and dying to do more shopping rather than enjoying landscapes so I planned Hualian as a day trip rather than an overnight one. It goes to show that when travelling with different people of different mindsets it may be tough to make everyone happy but a small compromise and lots of understanding goes a long way.
While there are very few ang mo (caucasians) tourist in this part of Taiwan, this area is still pretty much touristy as there are loads of tourists from China. There are only a few restaurants and guest houses once you are inside the gorge and they are usually rather expensive so we picked up some set lunches from a local store highly recommended by our driver before heading up the cliffs. It was rather affordable too.
The set lunches we bought came with free self-serving soups. It was some sort of pork and vegetable soup with some pig blood cubes.
Now into the tunnels and up the cliffs we go.
This is known as the Cingshui Cliffs and it faces the gorgeous pacific ocean. Our vehicle just emerged from that tunnel beneath that waterfall! It’s amazing!
This was probably the sight that the original tribesman of the Truku aboriginal tribe beheld when he walked out of the gorge. The beautiful blue of the Pacific ocean made him exclaim “Taroko!” and thus naming the gorge. Taroko means the “magnificent and beautiful” and I couldn’t agree more!
It was only the first pit stop of the day and I was already contented to lie on one of the nearby rocks and let the blue of the ocean and the rushing of waves lull me to sleep.
Seeing as to how we all enjoyed the view, the driver told us he could drive us up a little higher on the cliffs so we can have a different vantage.
We went further up the cliffs and learnt a little about how these tunnels were carved. They were actually first made by the Japanese when they had control of Taiwan and were mostly meant for bicycles. In the later years the government enlarged and reinforced the tunnels so cars could use it.
On a random side note, while we were admiring the scenery with the strong winds blowing (my hair was totally messed up!) my sister realized she had a splinter on her finger. LOL… we spent the next 10 mins or so trying to get it out!
Anyways, one last look of the lovely ocean before we head back down the cliffs and start moving into the gorge itself.
Heading down the bridge and to one of the landmarks that marks the beginning of the Central Cross Highway.
As you can see the river in this part of the gorge is grey and murky. This due the the coal mining in the area. Still my sister and I gamely headed down for a closer look.
My hair was all over the place most of the time cause of the really strong winds in the gorge. And with the strong winds, it brought along dust! In the video which I will post in the next Taiwan post you can see what looks like fog… well… it’s actually dust but not all parts of Taroko Gorge are this unpleasant. Only the coal mining areas… in future posts I will show you the other areas that are still rather pristine.
I’m gonna end here for now but I’ll post the video tomorrow!