This was my first family vacation in a long time (if you exclude the Malaysia trips), and I am happy to have brought my parents to Taiwan! The reason was because they speak Chinese, and so my parents would have a better time understanding and getting around the cities. This was evident from how well my parents clicked with the taxi drivers we toured around with. Hurhur.
We flew by Tiger Airways to Taoyuan International Airport, and immediately took the TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration) to Hualien County. The Taiwan HSR (High Speed Rail) goes to Taichung but NOT Hualien. Anyway my recommendation before you leave the airport is to buy a data package. I bought mine from ChungHwa – 10 days unlimited data for NT$450, and it also comes with quite a lot of talk-time. It makes searching google and calling cab drivers much more convenient.
By the time we checked in at BB Sunrise Minsu, it was already close to 9 p.m.
They are a family-owned minsu that is walking distance from Zi Qiang Night Market (自強夜市) and I guess I would recommend them because they are really friendly, which is a common trait amongst most Taiwanese.
We got them to book the white-water rafting package tomorrow morning for us that costs about NT$700 per person, and then headed off to eat eat eat!
The highlight of the trip probably were the night markets that we visited. The famous ones at Zi Qiang are 棺材板, 第一家烤肉串, and the many fruit juice combinations they have. Basically you won’t go wrong if you see a long queue (So Singaporean).
I will recommend the 棺材板, but the 第一家烤肉串 has a waiting time of about 1.5 hours even after you queued to select your food. In the end it tasted slightly burnt and was over-rated in my opinion.
The next morning we woke up at 7a.m. to get ready for 花蓮泛舟! It was my parent’s first experience at such adventurous stuff, and I’m quite happy that they are sporting enough to try these things out. The package included a van that came to pick us up to 秀姑巒溪 where we will enjoy 3 hours of being extremely sunburnt in 38 degrees Celcius weather without any form of protection or sunblock.
It would have been a fun experience but the sunburn was so painful and horrible that my skin was bright red and stinging for the next few days, and peeled like a snake for the subsequent week. One advice to my readers – do not underestimate the sun and protect yourself! Sadly, we couldn’t bring our camera, and hence no pictures of the beautiful route we took. We did take pictures of some famous food we ate that night.
This is some shaved-ice dessert with gula-malacca syrup and condensed milk on the ice, and some yam balls served on the side. Looks nice but tastes mediocre.
Hualien barely has any shopping streets, and they only have ONE shopping centre that we stayed at for just 15 minutes because there really wasn’t much to see. We did what we came to Taiwan for, and Google told us that 三妈臭臭锅 is a fairly famous steamboat place to eat at!
We didn’t know the soup base we ordered already includes a fixed set of ingredients, and proceeded to order a hell lot of other stuff until the waitress kindly tore our order forms and told us to fill it in again. In the end, it turned out to be a really cheap meal and contrary to the name of the restaurant, isn’t smelly at all.
We were however told by the cab drivers that the hot-pots there were considered as 口味很重, which I guess means very flavorful?
I thought waking up at 7a.m. on a vacation was early, but on our 3rd day we woke up at 4.a.m., because my energizer bunny parents wanted to catch the sunrise at 七星潭風景區. This was possible because of our friendly cab driver that Kristian and gang recommended to us. You can contact him via Facebook (In Chinese ONLY).
This sunrise was totally worth waking up for. It’s the most beautiful I’ve seen and it literally rose out of the sea, unblocked by clouds etc.
He then brought us to 清水断崖, and then to 太鲁阁 where I was amazed at how wonderful nature can be. Taroko Gorge have certain scenic spots, and the experienced cabby drove us to ALL of them and explained them bit by bit on what’s interesting and special.
One of the highlights was 燕子口, where we saw a lot of.. you guessed it right – Swallows. They are too fast and tiny to catch them in photos though.
The weather is burning; you can see my mom hiding in the shadows.
Another place that we hiked close to 45 minutes for was 白杨瀑布, and a little bit further was 水源洞 where it’s a cave that we can venture into and water drips/falls from the ceiling.
These are things that I never got to do before and I was very happy with the memorable day trip to Taroko Gorge!
My parents enjoying their moment while crossing the suspended bridge.
Next post will be my trip to Taichung!