Hualien Part II: Itinerary (Day 6)

Itinerary in a Nutshell:
1. Morning: Sunrise at Chixing Tan(七星潭), check-in to Hualien 11 and head to Taroko Gorge(太鲁阁)
2. Afternoon: Taroko Gorge Tour and City Centre Exploration
3. Evening: Gongzheng Street Baozi(公正街包子)and Indigenous Cultural Park

Pro-Tip: Pick up the Taroko Gorge and Food Trail Maps from your minsu or Hotel!

DAY 6: TAROKO GORGE AND HUALIEN CITY CENTRE

1. Morning

ImageWaiting for sunrise at Seven Stars Lake (Qixin Tan) at 5am (in summer)

Waking up early to catch the sunrise at Qixing Tan is a must for any romance escapade. Hotel Bayview provides a spectacular view and convenient location for this activity. The good people at Hotel Bayview also provide the information of sunrise for the next day, so do check with them for more information. If you are lucky enough to book the Seaview rooms, you can even laze in bed and enjoy the splendid view from the comfort of your cosy bed.

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To be honest, the photos do not do justice. We would highly recommend you to embrace the sight and enjoy your company, instead of frantically taking photos like us. Not recommended for romantic escapades.

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As the sun gradually rises to the azure skies of Hualien, we then rushed back to the Hotel for our complimentary breakfast (7.00 – 9.00am; international buffet spread), since we needed to check in to Hualien 11 for our Taroko Gorge tour. You can also book the Taxi tour at Hotel Bayview, of which the tours range from NT2500-3000, with friendly and knowledgeable drivers. We also have to thank the Shuttle Service driver at Hotel Bayview for kindly giving us a lift to Hualien 11, even though we only spent one night there. The kind people at Hotel Bayview really go out of their way to render warm, hospitable and first-class service. I would definitely be back!

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 Entrance of Taroko Gorge National Park

At about 8.45am, our friendly driver, Leo(刘正崇)(Tel: 0937-947845) (full day tour approx NT2200 for 2-4 pax.), came to fetch us at Hualien 11 for the Taroko Tour. He’s really friendly and we felt really bad not taking a photo with him, because he’s really nice! He also recommended going to 清水断崖 (translated as Clear Waters Deathly Cliffs), a must-go tourist attraction for Chinese tourists (apparently some Weibo/blog made it famous among the mainland Chinese tourists). It costs about another NT1000, which we thought was not worth the money nor the time (another 2 hour drive to and fro).

If you’re on a budget, you may also opt for the Taroko Shuttle Bus Tours (about NT600-900) instead of our Taxi Tour. We heard from our friend that the Shuttle Bus Tour only stops at 2 locations, but please do check out the latest information at their official website.

Official Website: http://www.taroko.gov.tw/English/
Maps and Brochures: http://www.taroko.gov.tw/English/?mm=3&sm=1&page=1#up
[Both Hualien 11 and our driver Leo have a few brochures so you need not print them out!]

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ImageSha-ka-dang Road Tunnel 砂卡礑隧道(beside Sha-ka-dang Trail 砂卡礑步道

Taroko Gorge is all about trekking and walking. Wear comfortable walking shoes to enjoy the scenic views and marvel at the magnificence of Mother Nature. Leo will bring you to each stop and tell you what time to come back and etc. All that walking is essential for that binging at night!

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The iconic Taroko Bridge 

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This was one of the attractions, though we didn’t know what was so special about it – just a few stalls selling souvenirs and ornaments.

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ImageTaroko Dangerous 

Image慈母桥

So why is Cimu Bridge 慈母桥 so named? Cimu Bridge was built to commemorate the late President Chiang Zhongzheng’s mother and it is rumoured that a number of workers have sacrificed themselves in the construction of this bridge. That said, this bridge bears deep meaning and we took the opportunity to take a few artistic shots.

ImagePicture-in-a-picture Inception: Artistic shot of London Girl taking a shot of the bridge

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ImageSoup that came with the Set Meal

ImageBamboo Rice Set Meal 

As advised by Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow, lunch options at Taroko Gorge is pricey and average at best. However, since Leo brought us to his old friend’s eatery (where he eats for free), we feel awkward not to oblige. We would say the meal was acceptable but a little oily. We spent about NT250 for 2 pax.

ImageBraised Beancurd (Extra Dish)

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Cured Pork and Taiwanese Sausages

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Bamboo Glutinous Rice

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After lunch was more walking for us. We first went to Lushui Trail and then headed to the Theatre which showcases the award winning film documenting the lifestyle habits of the indigenous Taroko tribe. And indeed, it was a great experience and a good time for us to escape the inclement weather!

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ImageRainy weather = time to head back to City Centre

As rain drops began to fall on our pretty faces, our day tour ended early as we were not heading to Qixing Tan or Qingshui Cliffs. Hence, we headed back to the City Centre at about 4pm and lazed around for some shopping / food adventures.

Hui-lan Shu Dao/Organic Yam (洄澜薯道)
Location: No. 11, Zhōnghua Rd, Hualien City (花蓮市中华路11號)
TE了: 03-8338899
Price: NT$50 per ice cream cone, other souvenirs range from NT20 (sold singly) to NT300 (gift boxes)

ImageEntrance of Hui-lan Shu Dao (洄澜薯道)

Incidentally, we chanced upon a shop with many students queuing up for ice-cream and since it was a humid afternoon, we decided to grab one as well (actually it was fatsgboy who initiated because I really have a sweet tooth). After reading up the reviews and posters, we realised that 洄澜薯道 is a household brand which sells a variety of products manufactured from organic yam (the local specialty).

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The much-coveted Organic Yam Ice Cream

ImageTaiwanese School girl enjoying her dose of Organic indulgence

At NT50, this huge cone of Organic Yam Ice-Cream is not sinful at low. Marketed as low sugar and calorie with high calcium, we instantly forgot all our weariness from walking the whole day in Taroko and was prepared to conquer the Golden Triangle of Hualien City Centre.

(N.B.: we must however caution you to visit this particular store instead of another outlet located at another side of the street, because the service here (the store with the ice cream machine) was much more friendlier. the staff at the other store was a little impatient and their courier service messed up, so we couldn’t send our package to our Wwoof host in Japan on time. That said, their ice cream is really good!)

At the heart of Hualien City is the Golden Triangle Commercial Circle (金三角商圈), which comprises the main Zhongzheng Road(中正路), Zhongshan Road(中山路)and Zhonghua Road(中华路). If you have noticed, many roads in Taiwan are named after the late Founding Father of Modern China Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan) and the late President Chiang Kai-shek (Chiang Zhongzheng). So do not be confused if you see the same road name in another city!

Justice Street Buns (公正街包子)
Location: No. 199-2, Zhōngshān Rd, Hualien City (花蓮市中山路199-2號)
Opening hours: 24 hours
Price: NT$5 per xiao long bao; NT$30 per basket of steamed dumplings/wantons; NT$3 per boiled dumpling

Tai Kee Wonton (戴記扁食)
Location: No. 120, Zhōnghuá Rd, Hualien City (花蓮市中華路120號)
Opening hours: 0700 hours to 0030 hours
Food: Wonton
Price: NT$60 for 10 dumplings

ImageGongzheng Street Pau-zi(公正包子店), beside Dai Ji Wanton(戴记扁食)

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The Famous Gongzheng Street Pau-zi(公正包子店)

Gongzheng Street Pau-zi(公正包子店)is a must-visit if you’re heading to Hualien City Centre. We even bumped into a few young Singaporeans and they highly recommended the Xiaolong Bao and the Wantons/Dumplings.

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公正 Xiaolong Bao (小笼包) (2 x left) and Wantons (扁食) (8 x right)

Singaporeans familiar with the usual Xiaolong Bao (think Din Tai Fung or Kao Ji) will be surprised to see their XLBs in the traditional Pau format. YES, these are the Xiaolong Baos in Hualien. The pork filling is extremely tender and smooth, just like the ones we had at Kao-Ji, though the pau skin is thicker here and more akin to the charsiew bao or Da Bao we have in Singapore. We were afraid that we couldn’t finish them all since we had ice cream prior to this, but the Taiwanese couple sharing the table with us finished about twice the amount as us. Amazing!

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ImageClose up at the Wantons

ImageUnknown Soupy Gelatin 

We were so full, we wanted so much to try Dai Ji Wantons(戴记扁食)but didn’t have space to :(

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ImageHualien Papaya milk

Hualien Indigenous Cultural Park (石藝大街)
Website: http://tour-hualien.hl.gov.tw/Portal/Content.aspx?lang=0&p=005040001&u=Intro&area=3&id=65
Location: No. 326, Guangdong Street, Hualien City (花蓮縣花蓮市廣東街326號)
Tel: 03-8353730
Opening hours: 1400 – 2230

ImagePerformance at the Hualien Indigenous Cultural Park (石藝大街)

After so much binging, we then headed to the Hualien Indigenous Cultural Park which was about 15min walk from the Golden Triangle Commercial Circle. Here, you can find various shops selling all kinds of ornaments and souvenirs, and watch a complimentary outdoor performance lasting for about 1 hour. The male performers are clad in traditional indigenous tribe costumes, so many of them are in fact half-naked (hear the screams of females). And the good thing is, they have nice figures too haha.

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There are a few segments and the finale is a bamboo stick dance where the performers invite some of the audience to join them for the dance. It’s very fun and they accept all volunteers!

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And at the end of everything, you can even take photos with your favourite dancers! They are very friendly and you can catch a short chat with them. And then we headed back to our minsu with Leo fetching us back to home sweet home!

Pls continue on to Hualien Part II: Itinerary (Day 7) (upcoming)

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