Saturday, October 15, 2011

, , ,

Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園, Taiwan

10/15/2011 Taiwan Explorer
The famous paifang at the entrance of the Taroko National Park.

Zambia has the Victoria Falls, USA have the Grand Canyon and Taiwan has the Taroko Gorge. This could be a simple way to describe the significance of this natural wonder for the one of the most beautiful islands in the world - Taiwan. I was blessed enough to see a little of this magical place, but then turned out the way I have not expected. During our Eastern Taiwan adventure we decided Taroko to be our last destination, before we head home to Taipei. Everything was going fine. We took the train from Hualien Main Station to Xincheng 新城鄉, a smaller township located at the entrance of the Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園. Once there, we rented a scooter and whizzed off to the gorge. The sky was a little grey, looking like it will break down in tears and pour them on us. But we were unstoppable, we raced from one famous sight to another and then... we reached the Ning'an Bridge 寧安橋 and I asked my wife why does the fuel gauge show that we're out of gas? She stopped the scooter and start to scratch her head helmet, she was clueless, too. We were so eager to rush into Taroko, we forgot to add gas into our two-wheeled stallion. And then we were standing there wondering what to do? Because I am the type of person, who doesn't like to take too many risks, I proposed we go back to the entrance, because there's a gas station. We nervously drove back, worrying that we might run out of gas somewhere half way through. But we were lucky, although the gauge showed we're riding on zero gas, we made it to the station. But once there, it started to drizzle and I suddenly felt I don't wanna go in there anymore. My wife was disappointed, but the clerk at 7 Eleven told us there's a good chance of rain inside - something I hoped not to experience on a scooter. So we decided to go back to Xincheng and then back to Hualien... and at last back to Taipei. Our Taroko adventure came to an early end, but we still had a lot of fun exploring the first part of it.

Click on the photo above to see a big high-definition map of Taroko Gorge.

I think the best way to explore the Taroko National Park is on bicycle or scooter, maybe car. There are buses, that bring those group tourists from one famous spot to another. That doesn't sound like fun to me, but I guess that depends on what kind of person you are. Read more about all this here, on the national park's very useful website. To see and understand more about how a trip to Taroko looks like, check my photos below:

The Hualien train station was crowded when we were buying tickets.

Xincheng train station.

The impressive mountains were covered in a blanket of mist.

After renting the scooter near the train station, we rushed off to the park.

And then we have reached the Taroko National park. Tons of tourists were gathered here.

Cute girls were posing around here. I was lucky to make this shot without people.

The Liwu river estuary.

After taking photos at the entrance, we finally rode in.

The road is full of bridges and tunnels.

Here you can see nature's masterpiece.

Took this tunnel shot on the scooter - one of my favorite photos.

A close-up on the famous  Long Spring Shrine or 長春祠 above waterfalls. Truly gorgeous.

This pagoda is right above the Long Spring Shrine and is called 太魯閣樓. There's even a Buddhist temple up there, too. This part is full of gems.

The Liwu river or 立霧溪, that makes all this possible.

The Long Spring Bridge or 長春橋.

Moving further away from this part.

Rocks that the Liwu river brought down here.

The Ningan Bridge 寧安橋, where we had to stop and go back due to fuel problems.

All in all, it was a short, yet awesome experience. I can't wait to return and next time we will definitely fill up the gas to the fullest and probably go there in the morning, so we don't need to rush, but cruise slowly through this incredibly beautiful valley and see the best of it. Some day in the future, I will write the second part of my adventure, which will continue from the Ning'an Bridge.

My 2011 EASTERN TAIWAN Tour - NEXT: The tour ends here.

• Explore all my Eastern Taiwan posts at once.