Itinerary in a Nutshell:
1. Afternoon: Lunch around Hotel Bayview, cycling along Chixingtan
2. Evening: Chilling at Hotel Bayview
DAY 5: EASTERN HUALIEN & CHIXING TAN
After a wholesome and delicious breakfast at (Fu Hang Dou Jiang), we headed to Taipei Train Station for our next stop: Hualien. The recommended mode of transport between Taipei and Hualien is the Taroko Express (0850 – 1146am; NT418), where many bloggers recommend sitting on the left side of the cabin. However, since we were pre-allocated seats, we did not have a choice (and were in fact separated). Nonetheless, if you happen to sit on the left, you will enjoy a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and witness how the scenery transits from high rise buildings to scenic waters and majestic mountains.
We arrived at Hualien Train Station at about noon, where the driver from Hotel Bayview was patiently awaiting our arrival. Since the hotel was quite a distance from the train station, such arrangements really saved us a lot of trouble.
Hotel Bayview – Worth every penny
Upon check-in, Juan, the helpful and friendly boss of Hotel Bayview, gave us a short orientation of the hotel and recommended eats in the vicinity. We decided to take the bike and cycle to 鲍鲜楼, and we do not regret our decision.
Tel: 03 823 6606
Recommendations: 曼波鱼 (Mambo Fish) and Set Lunches
The Wide Variety of Dishes available
鲍鲜楼 offers a wide variety of ala carte dishes and we were literally spoilt for choice. We wanted to go with the usual “3 Dishes 1 Soup” combination and did some calculations. Finally, we decided that it would be more economical to order the Set Meal instead, which comes with a cold dish (Tuna Sashimi), stir-fried vegetables, the signature “Mambo Fish” that can only be found in Hualien and a soup.
Ala Carte Menu
Perhaps more economical to order the Set Meals
Starting off with the Cold Dish – this was our first serving of sashimi for the trip and we were looking forward to it because Taiwan is known for its fresh, high quality and yet affordable seafood. There were 6 slices of tuna sashimi and 3-4 slices of squid sashimi (relatively camouflaged due to the colour of the plastic plate), which were absolutely fresh and delicious. You probably wouldn’t go wrong here, since Hualien is a port city with a sustainable supply of fresh seafood.
Rapidly stir-fried over high flame, this dish is simple yet yummy.
The Clam Soup was seasoned with cooking wine and contained about 12-15 portions of claims. Not absolutely mind-blowing but reflects the superior culinary skills of the chef.
Stir-Fried Celery with Signature Mambo Fish （洋芹曼波）
Finally came the star of the meal: Stir-Fried Celery with Signature Mambo Fish. This is our first time trying the Mambo Fish (or ocean sunfish, Sharptail mola) and an eye-opener indeed. Apparently, although mambo fish is a delicacy in Taiwan, it is banned in the EU and rarely encountered. In recent years, it has grown to be the local delight of Hualien, after the county government’s efforts to promote it as the icon of Hualien. Mambo meat resembles a jelly-like substance of gelatin or collagen and tastes likewise. It is soft, tender and very chewy.
Mambo Fish Wall Painting
When we went up to the cashier, curiosity got the better of us and we asked the lady boss about how the Mambo Fish actually looked like – and so she kindly showed us her photos:
The Lady Boss and her catches
Close-Up: The humongous Mambo Fish
Yes – a mambo fish can weigh up to 1000kg and measures 3-4metres.
Verdict: 3.8/5 (for displaying superior culinary skills in simple dishes, with the unforgettable mambo fish)
After the binging, we decided to take a look at 柴鱼博物馆, which required entrance tickets not worth paying for. We thus headed back to hotel and checked in (at about 2.30pm), since it would be too hot to cycle under the scorching sun at midday. At about 3.30pm, we headed out for our cycling trip along the gorgeous Chixing Tan:
Dolphins – A common sight in the Pacific Ocean
The Cycling Track
Map of the Cycling Track
Cycling along the coast is a breeze with the dedicated cycling track and you will appreciate the breathtaking beauty of Chixingtan (Seven Stars Lake) (only sunrise though, not sunset). We cycled for about 45min south from Hotel Bayview (turn right out of Hotel Bayview, and including some uphill and downhill), and encountered some herding cattle, surrounded by some unique structures.
The Azure Blue Pacific Ocean
The Maroon Surfer
Marvel at the beauty of Hualien
After cycling for about 2 hours, we decided to head back to return the bicycles and proceed for dinner. As we did not want to cab out to the city centre or have western food at a nearby farm (we wanted to enjoy quintessential local food first), we decided to have dinner at Family Mart Convenience Store:
Pork Ribs Bento: NT65
After dinner, we thought that it was time for coffee and headed to the 24 hours Self-Service Coffee/Wifi bar at the ground level. You may also wish to check out the rooftop balcony for sunset, but it closes at 8pm daily. We had an early night so that we could use the internet, wake up early for sunrise and rest for the Taroko tour the next day!
24 hours Self-Service Coffee/Wifi bar
Complimentary Free-flow Snacks
Pls continue on to Hualien Part II: Itinerary (Day 6)
- Hualien Part II: Itinerary (Day 6) (fatsgboy.wordpress.com)