Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Our next stop was Hualien and Taroko Gorge.  (Let's just say it was "Gorge-ous")  
We took the three hour train ride from Taipei to Hualien.  We checked in to Colorful Taiwan hostel.  We walked a few blocks away to rent a scooter.  About halfway there, the Typhoon rain started... That's one of the last times it was dry for the next couple of days. 
 We got to the scooter shop just before it started to pour and got suited up in some really attractive bright yellow rain gear.  
 That night we ate some night market food and then got out of the rain and relaxed at the hostel.  It was weird because we were literally the only people there.  The workers just gave us the key, locked up, and left.  Odd.
The next morning we hopped on our scooter and and splashed through the pouring rain to Taroko Gorge.  It is an amazingly beautiful place.  The roads wind through the gorge covered by overhanging cliffs, trees, and a great view of the river below.  There were dents in a lot of the roads from rocks falling off the cliffs and taking great chunks of pavement out with them.  It is listed as one of the top ten most dangerous roads worldwide.  If the rockslides don't kill you, it'll be the huge busses that cruise up and down it, or the winding road that sends you off a cliff.... I mean, wait mom, it was totally safe.  I would never do anything dangerous...
You don't need any permits for hiking through the area, you can drive, or scooter, or taxi through as you please.  There are bus tours available, but if you ask me, I would recommend a scooter, hiring a private taxi, or renting a car for the day.  You get a much better experience when you can stop and go whenever you like, and you aren't fighting for camera space with the other fifty people on your bus.  I rented a van through here once before and actually drove with the sliding doors open to get pictures and a better view. 

 The water was this great shade of brilliant blue.  A little like Gatorade, the ice blue kind, not the dark one.
 This is us, still suited up, using our umbrella to protect our camera, with the towering cliffs behind us.
 The rain cleared up for about an hour. Just long enough for us to do a quick hike and take some pics before the clouds reappeared.  It actually was really warm, despite what it looks like.
 The hike was really pretty with bridges, tunnels, caves, waterfalls, pagodas, etc.  There was a reeeeally dark cave that we had to go through.... I'm not a fan of really dark spaces so I was a liiiittle scared, but it turned out to only be really dark for like 10 seconds and then you could see the end.



It was juuuust a little bit windy... as you can see here.  Either that or our raingear was possessed by an ancient Taiwanese gorge spirit or something.

Taroko Gorge is a must for anyone making a trip to Taiwan.
Our trip was wonderful and a much deserved break after all our hard work and lack of weekends.  Now, back to the grind.


Find out more about Hualien and Taroko Gorge at these links:
Hualien CNY
Where To Stay
Taroko Gorge and Hot Springs
It's Been a While


6 comments:

  1. Hi... I am Boon Syian from Malaysia.
    I will travel to Taiwan soon and I would like to visit Taroko. So, I would like to ask some advice from you if possible. =)
    Do we need apply permit to visit Taroko? We can just ride a scooter and get there? Do you see the popular cliff?
    thank you very much!!! appreciated !!! =)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Boon,
    You don't need to apply for a permit. Though some areas are restricted during Typhoon season. You can rent a scooter in Hualien city very easily, as long as you have a driver's license (doesn't need to be Taiwanese) and some form of ID. They will make a copy of it. You can ride the scooter straight into the park and park it anywhere you like. We drove up and down the canyon and stopped here and there to hike and take pictures. There are many popular stops and they are all well marked and should be easy to see. People are also friendly and will help you if you ask.
    I hope you enjoy your trip, thanks for your comments :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lauren,

    Found your blog through your Lonely Planet entry. Not sure if this is a silly question but are the roads busy? A couple of girls and I are planning to head out to Taroko Gorge in November and we have our drivers licences, but have never been on scooter before. I have heard its the best way to travel while you're there, but just wanted to know if its safe. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Flammablesubstance,

    Not a silly question. You're right, it's definitely the best way to, it just really depends on the season. If you're coming in November, the roads should be relatively clear traffic-wise. Just look out for the tour busses! I don't know if I would recommend riding through the gorge your very first time on a scooter, but if you take some time to practice outside of the gorge and feel comfortable, then head on up. I'd ride separately because it's easier to drive that way if you are new. It's steep and winding, but it's not terribly narrow when you're on a scooter. Hope that helps, have a safe trip!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for blogging all your Taiwanese travels! I am planning to visit Taiwan and want to go check Taroko Gorge out in October and was wondering how much time should I plan for this area. How much time was required for you to check all those sites that you've written out? Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Bill,
      Thanks for visiting the blog! I would leave at least two days for this area. When I went with my family we spent an entire day there and it was a long day. It's fun to break it up a little and see the different parts of the gorge. There are lots of hikes and a couple of hot springs and just lots to see, so I would recommend 2 days.
      Enjoy your trip :)

      Delete

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