Taroko National Park is amazing! The crummy weather at least made for cool misty photos. It rained on and off our first day here. We took the Taiwan tour bus Taroko route around the park. Most of the full day hikes required advance permits or were off the bus route or were closed. Instead, we ended up hiking a number of shorter trails: Baiyang waterfall trail, Shakadang trail to the visitor center and the Lushi-heliu trail.
The water curtain cascade off the Baiyang waterfall trail was particularly neat. They built a tunnel through an aquifer and water pours out if the tunnel roof in many cascades. You can hike through the tunnel but you end up very damp. Also, bring a torch/flashlight if you do this hike. It has 8 tunnel sections.
In the evening, we finally dried off and met some Dutch travelers in the hostel. After a hotly contested round of billiards (none of us had played before and were using random internet rules), we went in search of food. After being turned away from four places, we had resigned ourselves to 7-11 dinner, but right next to it was a tiny restaurant and a willing cook. We had a bunch of noodles with and without soup and a plate of really tasty deep fried green beans and basil?. Rob might have also ordered a couple corn dogs for the Dutch hostelmates who hadn’t tried them before.
For our second day in the park, we planned to bike to Tianxing where we bussed the day before. It’s 18 km in and many feet and tunnels up. Luckily, the weather cooperated and we woke up to a sunny day (and no meowing from the annoying cat that woke us up the previous only the neighborhood roosters). We left the park gate at 8:45am and made it to Tianxing about 3 hours later with many stops for pics and a flat tire fix. Swallow grotto was neat and not crowded (normally it’s a tour bus zoo) . We also stumbled into part of the Tunnel of nine turns which was supposedly closed.
We picked up our stuff from the hostel in Taroko and biked 20km to Hualien City. The Hualien Wow hostel is super nice. We have a double bed with privacy in a 6 person mixed dorm. It’s great that the dorm has its own bathroom attached and the shower actually has a door so the whole bathroom doesn’t get wet.
Hualien City is a tourist paradise. Everything here seems to be lodging, food or renting scooters/bikes. Rob and I enjoyed wandering around the lively downtown complete with tourist night market. We saw two different political campaigns hosting parties, a fountain with a large rotating granite sphere and a salt lick BBQ restaurant with train shaped smoker. Dinner was a bunch of buns, dumplings and McDonalds (sesame pork burger and a corn soup/hot drink).