Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Taiwan trip - 8 Apr 08

Wake up super early today @ 5.30am to catch the 6.40am train to Hualien. Read from the forum that the trains are always on schedule, even if you are late by 1 or 2 min, the train would not wait for you. Hence it's better to be early than missed the train.

As mentioned earlier, we bought the train tix on the 1st day when we reached. The return tix cost NT$1,080 ~ S$50. There are few types of trains in the sequence of the speed - Tze Chiang 自强 is (express coach) follows by Chu Kuang 莒光 then Fu Hsing 复兴 (slow coach).
There are also Taroko Express train to Hualien which is Tze Chiang type. Taroko Express reach hualien in 2-2.5 hr while the normal Tze Chiang takes an hour longer. In Taiwan railway train timetable web page, Taroko Express is identified by the green mountain symbol next to the words "Tze Chiang". For our return trip, we booked Taroko Express 1080, although there is an earlier Tze Chiang train which departs half hour earlier, both reached Taipei almost at the same time. The earliest Taroko Express earliest is 9plus which did not fit our timing hence we had to take Tze Chiang 1051.
As mentioned in my pre-trip, we had booked Mr Lu Laifu for today. After we had bought the train tix, i did call Mr Lu to inform him our train no so that he know what time to pick us from the train station.

According to a forumer, do not throw away the either part of the tickets after you had board the train cos there is train conductor checking throughout the journey.

Train ticket
So bright @ 6.15am
Taipei train station

High speed train control station

Train control station

After we enter the train control station, there is a conductor who told us which platform to board the train. We followed his instruction as we do not want to miss our train. It's not fun finding your platform when the train timing is very punctual.

Platform to board our train

Normally train station is above the ground but due to constraint in land space in Taipei, the train station is underground.

Underground platform

Our carriage number

Inside the train

As we left our hotel at 6am, no breakfast was served yet. Our breakfast are foods which we bought yesterday at Jiufen and Miaokou Night Market.
割包- Similar to 扣肉包+ peanut

草仔果 - Taste a bit like Ang Ku Kueh
We wonder when did we bought these baos as we really couldnt recall
Papaya milk

On our 3hr train journey, we encounter students taking train from Taipei to other parts of Taipei country. We passed by countless stops including interesting stop name such as 七堵,八堵,hot spring places such as 礁溪,苏澳。。。There is also section of the journey where we passed by the sea which is in Yilan county 宜兰. However i couldnt capture any photo as I was sitting at the right side of the cabin. Most of the time i'm catching my beauty sleep, extemely tired to turn in late and yet gotta wake up super early.

Padi field

Once you saw this bridge, this mean that you are reaching Hualien soon

Finally we reached Hualien and there are lots of people alighting so do not worry about missing the train station. Mr Lu had informed us that he would be waiting for us at the rear exit.

Front & rear exit
Underground pass to rear exit

花莲是一个县市,聚集最多阿美族人的地方,还有其他原住民如泰雅族,布农族和平埔族。花莲古称奇莱,但名字在19世纪初有了变化,汉人在这里目睹壮阔的花莲溪水奔腾入海,激荡起波澜壮阔的回流,因此称之为洄澜 (hui lan),古音转变而来就成了花莲。

We recognised Mr Lu immediately as there is only him and the train conductor at the exit. Mr Lu is really a very attentive tour guide. He ask us whether we would want to go to the loos first before we ask him. Today the driver is not Mr Lu himself but his friend Mr Hu n today the car we board is not his yellow cab but his own personal car - white Toyota Wish. We are ready lucky today cos Mr Lu can concentrate being the tour guide instead of cum driver role.

Mr Lu drove us to buy our lunchbox 便当before we embark to 清水断崖 & 太鲁阁. Mr Lu dropped us at the lunch box shop to select our lunch box. It cost us NT$60 ~ S$3. Then he waited at the lunch box while asking us to roam around first and he will come and pick us. We went to 7-11 to buy drinks and I saw Mr Lu list of customers. Wow... he is booked until June which is 2 mths ahead. I ask Mr Lu where did his customer mostly came from and he reply from all over the world including local Taiwanese. For those who wanna use his service, you would know what to do right?

Streets in Hualien - not as bustling as TaipeiMr Lu treat us Yakault

We headed to Cingshuei cliff 清水断崖 first. Mr Lu told us that there is 大清水 and 小清水. The scenary at 大清水 is more spectacular than 小清水。

Cingshuei cliff is located along Suao-Hualien highway and it is considered the most beautiful highway in Taiwan. The highway is located between Yilan and Hualien, with its northern terminus in the port town of Suao, and southern near the entrance to Taroko Gorge National Park. Cingshui Cliff was designated in 1953 by the Taiwan government as one of the island's "Eight Wonders".

The cliff face stretches along the coast for 21 kilometers and seem to jut right out of the ocean. The cliffs were created by the fault line along the eastern coast of Taiwan. It is composed primarily of marble, gneiss and green schist. The density of these rock account for the stability of the sheer cliff and its ability to withstand the power of the ocean and typhoons thrown at it.


Inside the tunnel

Another tunnel ahead


Nice and clean toilet

Haiz... there is mist today hence the scenary is not as beautiful as what we saw online. However the scenary is indeed awesome.

大清水with Pacific Ocean at the background

We waited for almost for 10 min for train to pass through and capture a shot but too bad the timing is not right.

Train & highway tunnel

Our next destination is Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁。 Taroko Gorge is one of Taiwan's "Eight Wonders" selected by Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications in 2005 , others are namely Taipei 101 台北101, National Palace 台北故宫, Sun Moon Lake 日月潭, Alishan 阿里山, Yushan 玉山, Kaoshiung Love River 高雄爱河 and Kenting 墾丁。

Taroko is Taiwan 2nd largest National Park. Both geological uplifting and erosion by the Liwu River caused the formation of most of the geological features and formed walls hundreds of meters high, a phenomenon seldom found elsewhere in the world.

Central Cross-Island Highway is one of three highway systems that connect the west coast with the east of Taiwan. It starts from Suao-Hualien Highway and passes through Taroko Gorge and ends in Dongshih in Taichong county.

Central Cross-Island Highway 中横公路

Entrance of Shakadang Trails(砂卡砀步道) aka "Mysterious Valley Trail" Shakadang Trails

River basin
Suspension bridge not yet opened

Yanzihkou (Swallow Grotto) trail runs about a half kilometer starting from the entrance to Swallow Grotto to the Jinheng Bridge.
Yanzihkou (Swallow Grotto) 燕子口
Swallow's homeBe careful of falling rocks
Saw the Red Indian?
Our lunch
Enjoying our lunch in the beautiful scenary I eat rubbish

Future bridge to be build

Liufang Bridge 流芳桥 is the widest and highest precipice in Taroko Gorge at 1100m.
Liufang Bridge 流芳桥

Oops, we taking shortcut

Tunnel of Nine Turns is the most magnificent part of Taroko Gorge, where the sheer cliffs face each other. The two cliffs are so close to each other, and it looks like they are joining to each other if seen from afar. This section has the reputation of "Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon". The distance between the cliffs is only around 10-meters wide.

Instead of touring the Tunnel of Nine Turns from the start, Mr Lu told us we would start in the middle where the most spectacular section is. Mr Lu told us that during the typhoon season, waterfall can be seen as the rain pours down the rocks. However, it is dangerous to come here during typhoon season and Mr Lu told us that he was chased away by the management of Taroko when he bought his overseas customer here. Mr Lu told us that he argued with the management that his customer travel so far to Taiwan to visit Taroko Gorge and how can they chase him away.

Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiu cyu dong) 九曲洞 Posing as swallows
End of Tunnel of Nine Turns
A fish is swimming upward which is the result of erosion by Kelan river embranchment form the Liwu River caused to form the exceptional marble landform.

Mr Lu told us that a lot of couple took photo here hence asking us to take a shot but we aint couple leh ><" Beware of falling rocks
King Kong? Resemble a frog?
慈母桥 - Build by former president Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother, Mrs. Wang

Mr Lu pluck a type of berry from the tree and let us eat. Wow... super sweet loh.

Our next destiantion is the Baiyang Trail 白杨步道. The round trip takes about one hour and a half.
At the entrance of the trail is a straight tunnel which is 380m and along the 2km trail, there are another 7 tunnels. Some tunnels are
as straight as a pencil and you can see the light at the end. Others however are curved such that it's completely pitch dark that we cant even see our fingers at all. On the way, we met a couple at the entrance of a tunnel which is pitch dark and ask us if they can borrow torch light. Mr Lu ask them to follow us cos if he lent them the torchlight then we wouldnt have any torchlight. I'm really impressed with Mr. Lu that he came prepared with a torchlight and he even bring the raincoats for the water curtain trail. Mr Lu did not switch on the torchlight but ask us to hold the railing at the side instead. The feeling of mystery in the tunnel is so SHIOK!

The trail was originally built by Taiwan Power Company in 1984 during the early stages of their plans to develop hydroelectric power in the area but was eventually cancelled. Taroko survived and a road left that makes it easier for us to get into this once remote area.

Start of the trail

Along the trail

RocksRapidsBaiyang Waterfall

There is a washroom at the entrance of water curtain cave. Water used to flush the toilet and for washing hands are from the waterfall and there is endless flow of water.

Natural basin

The ground rock after Water Curtain Cave 水帘洞 is loose and there is danger of a collapse so at present visitors are only allowed to the entrance of the first Water Curtain. Water curtain is a special scene created by spring water falling from the tunnel roof. Unfortunately, the danger of roof collapse means that the other water curtains are out of bounds.

Entrance of water curtain cave

The rocks are definitely natural foot massager

Inside the cave

Waterfall inside the cave

This bridge is not exciting enough as it is too short compared to the not yet open bridge earlier on.

On the suspension bridge

Flying stunt

Mr Lu joked that since water is sacred in Singapore, we should drink to our full here, haha....

Drinking free flow of water

On our way back, we stopped at Tian Siang 天祥 for photo taking. Its name commemorates Wen Tian-siang, who lived in the 13th century and was the last prime minister of the Song Dynasty. There are facilities such as hotels, restaurants, post office etc.

Behind the bridge are Siangde Temple and Tianfong Pagoda which is 7 storey high. We only took photo at the entrance of the bridge and did not went in as we were too exhausted after treking for 1.5hrs.

Tian Siang

The concrete bridge was previously a suspension bridge

Our last destination in Taroko Gorge is Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shine 长春祠。It is built to commemorates the 212 personnel (military veterans) who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway.

Eternal Spring Shine 长春祠

Entrance of Taroko Gorge - 东西横贯公路

River basin

Next, we went to the Cisingtan 七星潭 means “Seven Stars Pools”. It is said that seven swamps that were scattered like fallen stars throughout the wetlands that once covered the area.

Plane landing

The rocks here are special cos there is a white line across in the middle of the stone. Initally i wanna bring back one but didnt, regret it now.

Rocks everywhere

People fishing


Mr Lu & us

Mr Lu drove us to buy food for dinner as we had to catch the 7.30pm train.

Betel nuts shop 槟榔 but no 槟榔西施

I like the onion pancake the most as it taste like roti prata but nicer.

Onion Pancake 葱油饼

This is also called xiao long bao not those found in Ding Tai Fung. The xiao long bao is very tasty, yummy.

Xiao long bao 小笼包

Fish soup - also very nice

This mochi is fresh made so must be consume by the next day. I get so sian of eating mochi already.


Cute 7-11 Advertisement

We took the Taroko Express at 7.28pm and reach taipei at 9.45pm. There is a Tze Chiang train departing Hualien at 7pm and reach Taipei at 9.40pm. Taroko Express is defintely much faster but less frequency.

Taroko Express Train

>>Day 5: 9 Apr 08

1 comment:

nancy zeng said...

Hello ! Im nancy (BKK,TH)
Im plan to go Tw in next Mar with no finfo. Just read ur blog, goin Hualian Taroko. did u book tour since in SG ? how, who is he ?
local tour ?
I heard that actually there are so many local tour agency at hualian train station. can I ?
Pls help to advise if any idea
or add me : pumpkin_jung@hotmail.com
I do need to get more info. kindly help haha TQ