Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hualien and the Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Our last stop in Taiwan was Hualien, and a visit to the Taroko Gorge.

We didn't really see much of the town, as we were only here for one full day, which we spent at the gorge, but we did visit the Ziqiang night market.

Lanterns, Hualien
It is a busy place, with a good variety of foods on offer. Some of the stalls are just takeaway, others have a big seating area. The food was decent and good value.

Taroko Gorge, Hualien
The next morning, we took a bus out to the Taroko National Park to see the gorge. Not having our own transport, so unable to get to the different areas, we only did a small section, but it was the main part of the gorge.

Taroko Gorge, Hualien

We walked temple Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) Trail, which took us through the area where the swallows are, and past the Chieftain's Profile Rock.

Taroko Gorge, Hualien
We would have done the Jiuqudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns) Trail as well, which is supposed to be the best section, but the pathway way closed off.

Not that anyone had told us that, the (initially very helpful looking) website had said it was all open, but never mind. We managed to get one of the infrequent buses, and rode the rest of the way to Tianxing, getting at least some view of the gorge from the road.

Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Tianxing has a pagoda, and a few places to eat. We had a quick bite, then ended up just getting the bus back.

The gorge isn't anything special, but it was OK. It wasn't helped by the better trail being closed, or by the fact that as you are walking along, you constantly have rows of tour coaches parked alongside, where there drop the Chinese tourists off for a quick look and a few selfies before taking them on to the next spot.

Tianxiang, Hualien
 We are lucky to be seeing some really great sights these days, and so it is hard to be impressed by something that's just OK. Which was kind of what we found in general about Taiwan. We lived many of the beautiful temples, and we liked the way that this was such a real and honest country, with nice friendly people, but the sights weren't as good as we had hoped. We gather from speaking to some of the expats in Tainan, that it is better if you have your own transport and can get up into the mountains, so if we come back, we will do that.

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