November 18, 2012

Taiwan 2012 (Day 3, 18 Nov)

Here we are in a minsu in Hualien, where we spent the day exploring the Taroko Gorge area and other parts of this coastal city.
Took the train bright and early this morning, the ride was just under 3 hours and we were met on arrival by a driver arranged by Rena.

Had an early lunch of dumplings and noodles at a popular local eatery, and then it was off to the gorge, touted as one of the most scenic areas in all of Taiwan.
The weather was gloomy and rainy though, so the skies matched the greyness of all the marble we saw.

We stopped at the closed Shakadang Trail where our driver pointed out a bridge flanked by mini lions on either side, each sporting a different expression, no two are the same.
He next brought us to the Changchun Shrine and there was a stream of blue spring water in front of it.
Our next stop at the Swallow Grotto required us to don hard hats, as falling rocks are a common occurrence How do you like my construction worker look?
Here we could see the rock cliffs and gorge walls up close as well as an overview of the Liwu River. There is also a famous spot, ‘Chieftain’s profile rock’ that resembles an Indian chief…do you see it? I did!
We then drove further to the Cimu Bridge where our driver pointed out a rock resembling a frog. I could see why it’s nicknamed Frog Prince. The rock is kinda greenish and if you look hard, you can just about make out the shape of a frog from the side.
Our driver then dropped us off at Lushui Trail for a bit of trekking, we were not too keen but it was only less than 2km so we caved in. Thought we would see some spectacular scenery on the way, but it was nothing much…the gals likened it to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve!

We stopped for some freshly roasted sweet potato which hit the spot on a cold rainy day, then we made a last stop at a suspension bridge that can only take 8 at a time. We were so nervous when other tourists paid no heed to the warning at the bridge and at one point there were 12 people.
As we left the gorge, there was a long queue of coaches waiting to get in and caused a minor traffic jam. Apparently between 3-5pm daily, tour groups from the mainland come in by the bus loads, thank goodness we missed them!

Our driver next brought us to the beach, but we didn’t stay long because of the rain. Then he brought us to try a local snack at a stall that commands long queues. It’s like a deep fried roti with sunny side egg stuffed in it. Kinda tasted and looked like the Indian puri.
We then requested to visit a supermarket to stock up on local goodies, I bought lots of Mr Brown coffee, crackers, instant beef noodles and jelly.
Lest our homestay/minsu thought we weren’t coming, we then proceeded to check in and dump our bags before our driver let us off at the Hualien night market.

Tad disappointing, nothing much to buy or shop in terms of fashion, it was only food and game stalls.

We queued and ordered some grilled sticks, had to wait 20 mins before they were ready. In the meantime, we snacked on stuffed French toast, fresh juice and then the gals found a stall with mee sua and chou doufu.

Apparently the doufu was really stinky, as you can tell from their reactions!
I took away a pizza for snacking on, since I didn’t eat much and here we are in our digs, a family room comprising 3 queen beds….it’s a slumber party! I had a moment of panic when I couldn’t find my phones in my backpack front pocket, only to realise I was searching the wrong bag! Me and Jane are carrying identical Marc by Marc Jacobs backpacks!

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