Sad to say, we only had a day at Yilan, Taiwan where we had lots of fun over an adventurous afternoon around Dongshan River and not forgetting the gastronomic experience at Luodong Night Market that is said to be offering the best street food in Taiwan.
Wished we had more time to explore Yilan but nevertheless, we woke up early the following morning and set off for Hualien 花蓮, Taiwan to continue with our planned itinerary!
[Taiwan September 2012]
14 September 2012
Exploring Hualien Part 1 | Hualien, Taiwan
We were rather reluctant to engage someone to drive us around but Hualien is way too big to be able to cover it on our own. And thankful to the taxi driver we met the night before, we managed to arrange with a trustworthy driver cum tour guide for our day in Hualien!
So early morning on our third day in Taiwan, we were sitting around at the platform at the railway station waiting for the train to take us to Hualien…
Upon knowing that we will be heading off early, the lady boss of the B&B 衿日林民宿 offered to prepare our breakfast earlier than their daily breakfast serving times so that we can bring the food (burger and hot milk tea) along to eat while waiting for the train. Very thoughtful isn’t she? 🙂
Here’s a closer look at the fish burger we had for breakfast! Frankly speaking, the burger tasted like Ramly Burger we have commonly in the pasar malam (night market) here but just that it is less greasy and topped with generous servings of cucumbers and cabbage! Awesome much!
Don’t please don’t be mistaken! We bought our tickets with seats assigned to each of us but they were separated so far apart that’s why we decided to stick around together at the connecting section of the train. Hehe!
With that, we’re on our way to see Hualien! YAY! 😀
Liyu Lake Scenic Area 鲤鱼潭
The lake was named after Liyu Mountain (resembling the shape of a carp) located by its east banks and standing at 1.6km in length and 930 metre in width, the largest inland lake is also one of the older scenic areas in Hualien.
According to 陈先生, there was a myth that during war times in historical times, a General tried to find out the depth of the lake and sent divers down or made his soldiers tie weights to a rope and threw it overboard in the middle of the lake but no matter how long the ropes were, they never ever reach the bottom of the lake!
Hmmm… We have always talked about bottomless pits but is THE bottomless pit we’ve been talking about? Well, believe it or not, it’s up to you! 🙂
While we were trying to read all the signs on every shop house across the road from the lake, a local told us (with the logic of visiting Singapore and trying bak kut teh) that we should just pop by one of the shops there and give their local delicacy, Live Jumping Prawns 活跳虾, a try.
Clueless about what to expect, we walked into the nearest store and placed our order.
If you’re still clueless, our order is exactly what the name of the dish suggests, alive and still jumping around prawns served in a sauce mix of light soy sauce, garlic and chilli and a cover over the bowl before we find our order all over the table.
It took us a while to digest the fact that our food is still alive but we popped them into our mouths eventually. The prawns though small are like little balloons of fresh juicy and sweet flavors and pairing with the sauce mix, the entire dish was actually really appetizing. Surprisingly, once we started, we cannot stop!
Lintienshan Forestry Cultural Area 林田山林業文化園區
The Lintienshan Forestry Culture Park is best-preserved forestry station left in Taiwan, and its local residents and Japanese-style dormitories are living witnesses to its history. The park has been listed as a historic settlement, so its rich cultural assets can be preserved in perpetuity. (As stated on signage)
When we first stepped into the hall, probably the largest redwood structure in Taiwan, we were welcomed by the natural aroma of the scent of the redwood. A stage and seating area covered half of the hall and the rest of the hall is lined with sculptures crafted from redwood.
Although it might look like nothing from afar, I bet you will definitely find yourself musing at how detailed every single sculpture was! Here’s a closer look at some of them!
Although old, there isn’t a slight decay on the wood used to build the railway tracks and it surely is very sturdy still! You see, it can still manage to hold the weight of the four of us plus 陈先生!
And then we were told that the teahouse at the service centre serves pretty good coffee and tea so despite the fact that we barely just started the day, we decided to stop by for a break and give them a try! 🙂
Inside the Japanese style wooden tea house and that’s me enjoying the bay window while waiting for the orders to arrive! Give me a good book and a cup of tea and I think I can sit there forever… Hehe!
After the short break , we head on down to the Wood Carving Galleries 木雕馆 to check out even more sculptures carved from a solid piece of wood.
So we saw ants, crabs and rabbits in Zhongshan Hall and now there’s event a rooster and a frog to join the party. Don’t you think the sculptors are really amazing with going down into the details for the carvings? I really give it up to them for their hard work!
A large piece of camphor wood 樟木 at the gallery for every one to take a whiff and smell the natural scented wood aroma. You can smell the scented wood aroma just by standing next to the wood. And seriously speaking, you don’t really have to stuff your head right in like my brother just to smell it!
And actually to think about it, all those we covered and saw as shown in the pictures is probably only one-third of the entire park! Such a pity!!!
Hualien Sugar Factory 花蓮觀光糖廠
Hualien Sugar Factory is famous for producing more than 30 types of naturally flavored ice products aside from sugar products. It is a popular stop among tourist travelling through the town of Guangfu 光復 in Hualien to enjoy refreshing ice cream.
I have got to admit that we were a little reluctant to do a stop at the sugar factory because we were seriously wondering what can we do at all at a factory. But to tell you the truth, we enjoyed it and appreciated the thought of 陈先生 for arranging a stop by!
There isn’t any better way to cool off from the afternoon heat than to sit in the shade of a breezy pavilion by a beautiful pond filled with countless of carps and enjoying a huge helping of ice cream!
If you fancied any of the flavors of the ice cream you had over the counter at the main pavilion and wish to buy them in bulk quantities, you can always hop over to the super mart just beside the counter and get them there! When I saw those refrigerators filled with ice creams and more ice creams, I really wish I lived in Hualien and near the sugar factory!
The Sugar Railways were initially constructed by a Japanese sugar production corporate during the Japanese ruling in the early 20th century and most lines on the railway system were shut down in 1990s and the remaining ones operates only during the sugarcane harvest season now.
Shitiping Campground 石梯坪
The name Shitiping (translates to Stone Steps Platform) was derived from the formation of the volcanic rock worn smooth by sea erosion was uplifted in layers that resembles stone steps.
Well, the coastline is not all about the interesting formation of whitish-gray volcanic tuff that is sets a strong contrast with the blue sea beyond and strikingly different from the rocks seen in other parts of the East Coast. There’s also a wide variety of coastal vegetation and sea creatures that made the place known as a world-class outdoor classroom to observe coastal geology and marine ecology!
Here’s presenting to you the gorgeous coast…
Amazing isn’t it? Absolutely beautiful and scenic isn’t it? It was seriously such a great experience just standing there that I decided to share everything I have hoping that it’ll do some justice to the place!
Don’t you agree that it’ll be an awesome night barbecuing and enjoying the beauty of nature there? If I’m returning to Hualien, I’ll definitely plan a night’s stay there!
From where we stood at the peak of the platform, it will be an almost 10-storey plunge off the sides into the sea if we fall off. Pretty nerve-wrecking but for the sake of the photos, we braved it through! 😀
Changhong Bridge 長虹橋
The new bridge that is bright and shiny was designed with fast and slow lanes along with bicycle and pedestrian paths and eight viewing platforms available for tourists as well as locals to check out the rafting activities on Xiuguluan River.
The old Changhong Bridge that is built in 1969 is Taiwan’s first cantilever pre-stressed concrete single arch bridge. Now the bridge serves only as a pedestrian bridge for visitors to look over to the river.
The Tropic of Cancer Landmark 台湾东海岸北回归线塔
The Tropic of Cancer Landmark, that is just a short five minute drive from Changhong Bridge, is located 23.5 degrees north latitude and 69km marker on Highway 11. And if you think this is just another marker, then you’re so wrong!
Every year at noon during the summer solstice, the sun shines right into the slits on the Tropic of Cancer. At this time, you can experience the phenomenon of shadowlessness under the sun!
The landmark was coincidentally our furthest stop from Hualien city for the day. After which, we made a turn around and made a few more stops before heading back via the coastal highway.
Baqi Gazebo 芭崎眺望台
From the Baqi Gazebo‘s viewing platform, you can actually see a beautiful view of the Pacific coast line that includes and Jiqi Beach 磯崎海灣. It is definitely a great stop to take a short break, buy some snacks and enjoy them while enjoying the view when you are there.
Fanshuliao (Sweet Potato Hut) Bridge 番薯寥 & ‘Forest of Braves’ 遗勇成林
There is a legend that says that aborigines living there in the past revered courage so much that they promised to make chief of whoever who can vault across the gorge. Many brave men have tried and failed, falling to their death. Thus the name, ‘Forest of Braves’.
Farglory Ocean Park 遠雄海洋公園
The viewing platform at Farglory Ocean Park…
Our last stop before we ended our day tour in Hualien, we took a brief stop at the viewing platform near Farglory Ocean Park to have one last look at the beautiful eastern coastline of Taiwan.
Since it was starting to get dark and the afternoon was punctuated with gloomy skies that threatens to rain on us, we made our way back to the hotel and ended our tour. We sure had a great time nonetheless following the itinerary planned by 陈先生.
In case, you’re wondering… Look out for the next post and I’ll share with you more about our meals in Hualien! Stay tuned! 🙂