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Trip to Hualian and Taroko Gorge

hualien-beach

On Saturday morning I met some friends at Taipei Station and boarded the Taroko Express to Hualian. In Hualian we met our driver and headed down the coast. Once beyond the city limits of Hualian the coastline has a lot of open space apart from a few small settlements. We visited this beach had only a handful of people on it. It was a pretty hot day so crossing the sand was scorching, but it was nice to cool off in the water.

leader-village-taroko

Late in the afternoon we arrived at our accommodation, the Leader Village Taroko (立德布洛灣山月村). It is located in Pulowan in the lower part of Taroko Gorge. The location is truly spectacular and the cabins are very comfortable.

taroko-culture

In the evening there was a Taroko cultural performance featuring students from some of the local villages. The Taroko people (太魯閣族; also spelt Truku) were officially recognised as a separate indigenous group in 2004 having previously been classified as Atayal. The performance included a variety of singing and some dancing. in the photo above a man is playing a bamboo mouth harp. As well as being good entertainment the performance shows they are a close community and keeping their language alive amongst the younger generation.

taroko-gorge-traffic

My last visit to Taroko Gorge was almost ten years ago. The major change has been the improvement of the roads. There are now many tunnels which make it easier and safer to travel through the gorge. In the morning we arrived at the Swallow Grotto just before it was closed because of the overnight rain. It was great to be able to walk through the tunnels with hardly any people and no cars.

taroko-waterfalls

The Tunnel of Nine Turns was also closed, but there were still plenty of interesting places to see in the gorge. It rained intermittently throughout the day. This added to the dramatic scenery scene in the gorge though and ensured the waterfalls had a good flow of water over them. The photo above shows the Baiyang Waterfall, at the end of the Baiyang trail. The trail to get there goes through numerous tunnels; you need to take a torch.

It was a great weekend and I must get back to Hualian again soon to discover more.

*More photos in the Hualian set at flickr.

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Comments

Comment from cfimages
Time September 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I actually found Taroko to be the biggest disappointment of all the places I’ve traveled to in Taiwan. For both Selina and I, it just didn’t live up to expectations.

Comment from fvarga
Time September 14, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Nice pictures David!
I love the blog of Craig Ferguson with his so beautiful pictures. He does has the “eye” and talent.
But I disagree with his statements about Taroko.
“the biggest disappointment”?
I went there several times. Of course the big earth quake changed a lot of places there, some being quite dangerous to hike now.
But still, so a beautiful place… If you go there when not so much tourists are visiting…
And people living there are so nice too, willing to answer to all your questions.
Like you, I am expecting the next time to go back there.
Anyway, I disagree with his statement but as you know, tastes are like colors…
Expecting your next pictures… :-)

Comment from gentian
Time September 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

I’m interested to hear cfimages/Craig Ferguson’s view on why he thinks the gorge is his biggest disappointment in Taiwan. :P After such a statement, you left me hanging for the reason.

As for me, I loved Taroko George. My brave friend, only accustomed to Taipei’s streets, took me on a scooter. Despite the turns and the safety concerns, what a ride! To me, it conveyed a side of the ancient Taiwan land mass: the mist unfurling and the tall majesty of its gray stone. I felt a chill and could sense it had a spiritual significance in there, in its quiet mystery.

Comment from Neil Wade
Time September 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm

The key to really enjoying a trip to Taroko IMHO, is to get off the beaten tourist trail. Get away from the main highway that runs through the middle of it and explore some of the side gorges and valleys. There are waterfalls, wild hot springs and remote villages that are just a hike away. Also, riding a motorcycle all the way up to Hehuan Shan is breath-taking!

Comment from J L
Time October 6, 2009 at 12:20 am

Are the Truku community involved in the ownership and/or running of the Leader Village accommodation in Bulowan?

Comment from David Reid
Time October 6, 2009 at 12:23 am

JL, while I am not sure about the ownership of the village, the Truku are definitely involved in the management.

Comment from Starrynite
Time October 9, 2009 at 9:36 am

hi David,how did u arrange for driver to pick u up in Hualian?

Comment from David Reid
Time October 9, 2009 at 9:44 am

Starrynite, one of the Taiwanese friends I went with made all the travel arrangements. The driver was booked through a travel agent.