Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 6

Taroko Gorge

We had to get up really early today! I tried to get an early night before hand but I ended up writing my blogs until midnight. We met downstairs today at 6:30am so we could catch a train out to Hualien to see Taroko Gorge!

We went to Taipei main station to catch our train using the tickets we organised yesterday and once we were on board I decided to catch up on some sleep. It was great to have a nap, I felt a lot better afterwards, but I did miss out on some pretty nice scenery! Luckily others were talking photos, but unfortunately they also took photos of me sleeping!

We arrived at Hualien station and were greeted by Tonny Teng holding a sign with his name on it. We went to his car, a Toyota Wish and we all fit, but it was a tight squeeze! Tonny and the other nearby drivers got a bit of a laugh from seeing us all trying to fit in, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

I took a bunch of photos, but they really do not do it justice at all. This place was stunning and the rock mountains are absolutely huge! I could barely fit it all in the photos even with the wide angle lens. Some of the photos have people, cars and/or buses in them that will hopefully give an idea of scale.

The first stop was the Qingshui Cliffs. There was a look out that had marble cliffs looking out towards the ocean. This was our first look up close at just how big this place was, pretty impressive.

Next Tonny drove us to the Shakadang Trail. This was about a 3km walk along the river. It was probably the busiest stretch for the day and quite a nice relaxing walk. The path was carved out of the rock and there were signs telling us to wear hardhats, but none were provided (and we didn’t BYO) so Tonny just suggested we be careful. Luckily none of us are that tall, so we were ok and we didn’t see any falling rock. At the end of the trail was an opening to walk out to the river. There were large rocks everywhere forming a sort of beach and made for some nice photos.

After we walked back to meet with Tonny, he took us to get some lunch. Tonny suggested a local Taiwanese restaurant and we got the set menu plus drinks for $300 NTD each (about $12) and we had so much food we couldn’t finish including soup, fish, chicken, shrimp, a bucket of rice and some other dishes (that I’m not actually sure what they were).

Next up was Swallow grotto, which was about 1km. This path actually went along the road at certain points but there wasn’t any footpath, we just shared with massive tour buses, cars and motorbikes but this seemed pretty normal.

The next stop was the most interesting: The Baiyang waterfall trail which has the “water curtain cave”. It was about a 1.6km walk to the cave which lead us through some tunnels that burrowed through the rock mountain that cut out all the light and had water dripping through them, luckily Tonny gave us torches and we had our phones! Along the way there were signs to show how long was left, but they didn’t seem very accurate!

Once we arrived, there was a running water that covered the entrance to a cave. Everyone was taking off their shoes and putting on ponchos before getting in. We picked up some ponchos on the way, but didn’t have anyway of drying our feet when we got out, so some of us went with shoes and some didn’t. In the end we all had wet feet anyway, so I guess it didn’t matter either way.

We started making our way though the dark, wet tunnel and we couldn’t really use our torches or phones because of all the water. There was a small path on the side that had pretty deep puddles and water falling over our heads. The waterfall inside was pretty amazing!

Once we got through the tunnel, my shoes and socks were saturated but the poncho kept the rest of me dry. The funniest part of this walk was as soon as we were through the tunnel, there was a “path closed” sign. It felt like we just went through the most difficult part of the tour for nothing, but the waterfall (or “water curtain”) was actually the attraction here and it looked awesome but this was still enough to enrage Anthony! To top things off, as soon as we made it back through the tunnel Anthony and Chris broke out of there ponchos by ripping them off Hulk style and it instantly started raining!

We walked back to meet Tonny and went to our final stop on the list, the Eternal Shrine. We didn’t actually go into the shrine, we just looked at it from a distance but seeing them built into the side of the mountain looked pretty cool.

Tonny drove us to the nearest train station which was actually a different one that the one we came in to. We were lucky to get tickets home as they were nearly sold out, but this was a direct train back to Taipei main station. The alternative was to go some of the way and switch to a bus, but this probably would have been slower. The only problem is, from this station the route was much longer, looking at the map it looked like we followed the coast line. We got a photo with Tonny, paid him $800 NTD (about $33) each and thanked him for his help! We walked down to the nearby family mart for some snacks and boarded our train at 6:20pm.

We arrived back at Taipei at about 10:00pm - very long train ride by which time we were pretty hungry. Amy had a craving for burgers, so we found burger place at the station for dinner. We actually walked around the street for a bit, but just about everything seemed shut at that time. Stations over here are much like in Japan, very lively and big! There was a lot of food options there.
The burger place we went was pretty good. There was a guy out the front who spoke pretty good English and helped us order. It turns out he was the owner of the company and his son was a cook. His son spent two years in LA and liked the burgers, so when he came back he started a business with his dad - pretty cool story to end the day.

When we got back, we did some washing and blogging and went to bed - pretty big day but apart from Rob getting some fairly monstrous blisters, we all had a good time.