- It’s not an expensive place. Food and accommodations are reasonably priced.
- People are nice. Like, Canadian-nice. They’ll go out of their way to help you.
- If your Mandarin skills are lacking, you’ll be ok. Enough people speak English, and they don’t mind.
- It’s delicious. Taiwan was a Japanese colony for the first half of the twentieth century, so there are terrific Japanese restaurants, as well as Chinese and Taiwanese.
- Transportation is easy. Taipei has a great subway system, and the rest of the country has trains and buses that are efficient and clean.
- China used to send a lot of tourists to Taiwan, but they’re not happy with each other right now so tourism is way down. Taiwan would be really happy to see you!
- Finally, Taiwan is worth visiting because it’s beautiful. Here’s our day in Taroko National Park.
You can get take a day-trip from Taipei with a tour company, or rent a car if you have a license. We chose to spend a couple of days in Hualien, the nearest town to Taroko, and hire a local guide to drive us to Taroko and tell us about it. Our hotel fixed it up for us. I like going with a local guide in a car instead of on a big bus full of strangers. That way, if you forget your Chapstick, it’s easy for the guide to stop at 7-11 while you run in.
As we left Hualien, this was our view driving north up the coast. I’m pretty sure I found the cave where Voldemort hid the locket.
This bridge is called Bridge of 100 Lions. Each lion is different!
One of the big problems in Taroko is falling rocks. Just after I said to Sam, “Your cousin told me we should be careful of falling rocks here,” a rock tumbled down the mountain and landed on the road in front of us! Some rocks are cute like this one, but some are boulders. Watch your head!
In one particularly treacherous section of the park, you borrow these fashionable helmets. Here are Sam and me with an unnamed, mortified teenager.
The hiking is lovely! We stayed on gentle trails, but there are also some very adventurous trails across cliff faces with only a chain on the cliff wall and no guard rail. Just a drop-off. Maybe next time. Probably not, because I’m getting sweaty palms just typing about it.
I enjoyed the signage.
There are bridges, tunnels, and half-tunnels which protect vehicles from falling rocks. Best-case scenario.
Stop for lunch! We ate this delicious lunch. I ate every bite, except for the shoal of tiny whole fish floating in the soup. Just couldn’t do it.
Eternal Springs Shrine is named for the spring that continually flows underneath it. On the hillside above the springs are two memorials. Before the latest typhoon, you could hike up to the memorial buildings, but the typhoon knocked out the trails. One memorial is for a deceased Taiwanese leader, the other is religious. Both are empty buildings, but hikers can hang out there when the trails are rebuilt.
After we left the park, we stopped at Chishingtan Beach. I think this may be the coolest beach I have ever been to, because it’s covered with beautiful pebbles instead of sand. Nothing against sand, but it’s been done. A lot. Each pebble was unique. Do not take any pebbles! Tourists have taken so many that the beach is in danger of being naked. Just take pictures of your favorites.
I hope I’ve convinced you to go to Taiwan! It’s a lovely place, and Taroko National Park is the cherry on top.