On Saturday morning I met some friends at Taipei Station and boarded the Taroko Express to Hualien. In Hualien we met our driver and headed down the coast. Once beyond the city limits of Hualien 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Hualien again soon to discover more.
*More photos in the Hualien set at flickr.