March 12, 2016
This morning, we took the bus towards Taroko Gorge National Park. It’s about a 45 minute ride from Hualien. We caught the shuttle from the hotel to the train station to catch a local bus that does a loop of all the major sites around Taroko Gorge. The daily unlimited ticket was 250 NT each ($10 CAD).
We started out on the Shakadang Trail, which was about 6km. The scenery was amazing, especially with the low lying clouds; it made it seem mystical. The greens and landscape reminded me a lot of British Columbia. Although it was beautiful, it made us think that we’re pretty spoiled to live in such a beautiful place and it’s also a shame that we haven’t explored more of our own province. Hopefully we’ll get to do that more this summer when we’re back home.
Our favourite part of the Taroko Gorge Park was the Shakadang Trail, it was also the only trail that was opened fully. A lot of the park was close due to unstable gravel and rocks (they’re still fixing it up from typhoon season). It was too bad that a lot of trails were closed because this made all the areas that were open busy with all the busses of Mainland Chinese tourists. This was my only complaint about the gorge – it was a bit hard to fully appreciate its beauty when there were hoards of loud Chinese tourists around. We saw a bunch of them smoking when there were a lot of signs saying smoking was not allowed (the park should have more park rangers to crack down). As we weren’t able to go to all the different sights due to closures, we know we will have to come back in the future to see more.
When we caught the bus back into the city, I fell asleep as soon as we got onto the bus. It was a nice 45 minute nap. When we got back into the city, we started walking back to the hotel and we noticed that there were a lot of mochi shops in Hualien; specifically the one in the picture below. We decided to stop in and take a look, we had two samples and left. They were really tasty and I can see why lots of people were buying them. I tried to look up to see if they have a store in Taipei but their website doesn’t exist. This seems to be a common issue of website addresses on bags, store fronts and cups in Taiwan. (So far I’m 0/3)
After resting up a bit and finishing the first season of “Fuller House” on Netflix, we headed out for the night market. It was raining quite hard tonight, but Hualien’s Zhiqiang Night Market has vendors all undercover so the rain wasn’t a huge deterrent for most people. The night market is unique compared to other night market’s that we’ve been to in Taiwan as there are a couple rows of vendors that are all aboriginal.
While going through the stalls, there was a huge line up at a roasted corn stand called, “Li-Jo Corn BBQ”. We decided to join the crowd and line up. They had video footage of testimonials and how they made their corn (typical). Once you get to the front of the line you pick corn you want and they charge you by weight. We thought it would be around 50 NT ($2 CAD) max per corn, but for our two corns it ended up being 164 NT ($6.65 CAD) total. It was quite pricey (For Taiwan standards), so we were hoping it would be amazing. We waited for our order for about 15 minutes (took about 10 minutes to get to the front of the line) and when it came and I took my first bite, I was a bit disappointed. The corn wasn’t fresh tasting, I’m not sure if they roasted it too long to make the corn kernels chewy. The sauce was a sweet, spicy, sticky soy sauce. It was good we tried it but I wouldn’t get it again – especially for 80 NT on average each. My favourite corn is still the corn from Cafe Habana in NYC (Tim: Me too. Best corn on the cob I’ve ever had).
Here are some other items we got from the night market.
We walked back to the hotel in the rain, the rain eased off a bit so it wasn’t that bad. We’ve been wearing these MEC breathable rain shells my Mom bought us for our trip… so far so good! I’ve noticed that a lot of people wear flip flops here when it’s pouring rain. I guess it’s better than soggy socks (although it wasn’t very warm here tonight).
We have to wake up around 5am tomorrow to catch our train back to Taipei. Tomorrow will probably be our laundry and errands day, in anticipation for my sister, Noel, and Nate’s arrival! Yay! I can’t wait.
Number of steps today: 26,200