After a whole day of discovery in Yilan, I rode the train from Luodong to Hualien. I sat down in the empty train and read Infinite Jest. After about more than an hour, I arrived at my destination. Another city I haven’t been to, I strapped on my backpack and was ready for a new adventure. Willie, my AirBnB host, picked me up from the station. Arriving at the Backpacker Dorm Hostel, I quickly showered since I was gonna meet up with Mao.
Through Couchsurfing, I kept in contact with Mao prior to my arrival in Hualien. I didn’t want to miss a trip to Taroko Gorge so I told Mao I wanted to see the national park. Finally, we met! He took me for some Taiwanese dessert since the temperature in the east coast was very summery. I even got a souvenir keychain from the store owner!
Afterwards, we took a walk in the night market downtown. To my surprise, Hualien’s night market is organized in booths. I shook my head then exclaimed, “This is so cool!” It was very amusing to me because all the night markets (Chung Yuan, Zhongli, Taitung, Sun Moon Lake, Tainan, Shilin, Kaohsiung) I’ve been to were chaotic (though in a good way). I was kind of disappointed when the band that Mao said was the best just started packing up. They called it a day before we came there. The lead band member signaled that they’re going home and apologized. (Yes, Taiwanese people are the nicest.) We walked around and got a good view of the city.
Agreeing with an 8’o clock meeting time, Mao drove his scooter to pick me up the next morning. We had breakfast (dan bing, obviously) at Liming store! (That’s my Chinese name, Liming=Dawn.) We headed off to Taroko after.
The sun was shining brightly. As we drove further, lesser buildings were in sight, fewer cars raced the roads, trees became taller and greener, air cooled into fresher breeze, and mountains hidden from clouds started peeking out. I inhaled deeply to soak the fresher air in. As I opened my eyes, I had to pinch myself when the gorge showed how gorgeous it is. I gasped in amazement.
We took the Shakadang Trail and walked through it. After reaching the end, we realized there’s a no entry sign for the rest of the trail since they’re performing construction. Since Mao has been to Hualien for about a hundred times, he assured me I’d see more of the trail than what the signs advise us.
True to his words, Mao brought me to a part of the trail where I can wash my sweat off. I quickly slipped out of my clothes since I had my bikini prepared underneath! I was really expecting I would be swimming in these clear waters. How can’t I!? The water ranged from clear turning into bluer and greener gradients as it deepened.
The freshness of the water refreshed me from the walk we had through the gorge. “This is stunning!” I kept on bursting out words that aren’t enough to describe Taroko’s beauty.
Mao stopped by this area where he told me the frog shaped rock is located. As you can observe from the rock, it has the face of the frog! I was so amused when I realized what was standing in front of me.
For lunch, we drove to the area with multiple buildings that had hotels, restaurants, and other facilities. Climbing up to find a resting spot, we stumbled upon a church on top of the mountain. Afterwards, since I had to catch my 16:00 train, we drove back. Waterfalls, rivers, and mountains – these views were a feast to my eyes.
Mao, I’m so glad that I’m your first Filipino friend! Thank you so much for showing me Hualien. It has been an amazing last trip in Taiwan. I wish I had more time, but I’ll be back! Make sure to stop by Philippines when you start traveling around the world, I’ll show you our paradise.