Friday, August 10, 2018

Taiwan With Kids: Hualien 花蓮 - Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 & Qixingtan Beach 七星潭海邊




Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 is beautiful on Google Images so it was on our to-go list in Hualien 花蓮
But then luck was not on our side because the weather was nowhere beautiful during our day to the Taroko National Park.

We wanted to watch the sunrise at Hehuanshan 合歡山, which is within the Taroko Gorge National Park. But because of the cloudy and misty weather on that day, it was impossible.
There was also a slight drizzle on that day while driving along the winding road to reach to the peak of the mountain.

But man, was it cold! We were all decked in many layers and it was freezing up there. Look at us wearing woolen hats and our many layers.
Especially Khye who is looking so puffed up wearing too many layers! 





We were supposed to see this gorgeous mountain ranges over this view. (Look at the board showing us the mountain ranges).
But what we saw was this blanket of white. So misty until we saw nothing. What a pity.

 

We were actually at one of the peaks and above the clouds. 
Here we could see at least a little something and so we braved the cold and took a photo here. Look at Khye's face due to the too-cold air. 

And because of the slight drizzle, we couldn't do the walking & hiking trails of Hehuanshan. 

We stopped for lunch at Tianxiang. Tianxiang is situated at the junction of the Dasha River and the Tacijili River. It is a wide river terrace surrounded by mountains and a holding valley in the middle. The place is really tranquil and beautiful. 
During the Japanese colonization, Tianxiang was the administration, economy and culture center of the cabinet. However, after the completion of the Central Cross-Island Highway, it has become a rest stop for travelers. 
 

Although the rest stop views was very scenic, the food here was bad. Service was impatient as well and it didn't help that we couldn't read the menu which was in Chinese. 
Luckily Khye was not a picky eater. As long as he had rice to eat, he was a contented boy!

Next, we went across the Cimu Bridge 慈母橋.
The original Cimu Bridge was built in 1959 to connect the Lushui and Tianxiang areas to the eastern part of Taroko National Park and Hualien.

Cimu in Chinese means "motherly devotion". Legend says that in this area known as Heliu 合流 where the two rivers meet, a child was near to the river edge and was swept away by a large current. Every day, the child's mother would go to the river to wish for her child's safe return to her. 

For me, it is always nice to know the legend of how a place got its name. I felt more connected to the place and its rich history. 

Due to extensive typhoon damage over the years and concerns about the stability of the bridge, especially due to the growing popularity of Taroko National Park with tourists, a new Cimu Bridge was commissioned to replace the old one, and was completed in June 1995. 

This red, steel hanging bridge is 9.9 m wide and 136 m in length and crosses over the Laoxi River 荖西溪, about 1km east of the Lushui 綠水 area. 

The Marble Cliff and the Laoxi River 荖西溪.


Strong wind here at the Marble Cliff valley. Look at our tousled hairs. 




Weather turned better and we then walked the Swallow Grotto Trail 燕子口步道 which is near the middle of the park and located after Buluowan 布洛灣.

The walls on each side of the river contain caves which form natural nesting places for spring swallow birds, bringing life to the area nearby the roaring river, with locals naming it Swallow Grotto.

The path is shared between pedestrians and automobiles (one-way traffic), and a tunnel is located south of the primary trail running parallel for main traffic.

We walked through tunnels like this.



The scenery here is really beautiful. We took many, many photos of the rocks and such.
Sights along the trail include the Indian Chieftain Profile Rock 印第安酋長石, potholes 壺穴 along the cliff face, swallows darting in and out, and around the cavesm ultimately leading up to the Jinheng Park 靳恆公園 and Jinheng Bridge 靳恆橋
Walking from the Buluowan-Swallow Grotto Trail to the Jinheng Bridge takes around 20 mins. 
It took us about 30+ minutes because we were stopping almost every few minutes to take photos. :P
 
 
 

 

The famous Jinheng Bridge 靳恆橋
Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/54099669@N07/6059529332





 
     
 
 



Next, we viewed the Eternal Spring Changchun Shrine 长春祠 from afar.
Built to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those who built the Central Cross-Island Highway through Taroko National Park, the Eternal Spring Changchun Shrine is a beautiful temple sitting on top of a natural spring gushing out of the rocks into a waterfall.

Due to the power of the Liwu River running over a fragile combination of green schist, thin marble, and quartz located over a fault, there is a constant corasive force on the rocks. Cracks in the rocks allow for natural spring water to flow through. While typhoons and rainfall greatly increase the amount of water causing it to gush through the rocks, minimal of no rainfall does not cause the stream to stop, with the stream of water below the shrine bearing the name "Eternal Spring".
(Source: Guide To Taipei)




One thing I really regret not doing was to hike the Shakadang Trail. I would have loved to see the crystal clear Shakadang River as it winds through marble canyons and the massive pools of bluish-green water. 
But I know Khye and mum may not be able to do this 4.4km hike. Our driver told us that it takes about 3.5 hours two-way.  Maybe next time. 


Because we earlier skipped the suspension bridge near the Yehfei Pavilion, due to the hoards of tourists on it, our driver took us to the lesser known Suspension Bridge near the Changuang Temple (Zen Monastery). 

The suspension bridge nearby the temple. 
Yes, we preferred it here as there were less people and the place was also more serene.

At the start of the bridge.
 
 

The view from the middle of the bridge. 

Walked to the other side of it with the Changuang Temple on the other side now. 
 
 


Lastly, we got to the Taroko Archway, which was actually the gateway to Taroko Gorge.
The compulsary photos of us with the Archway.


Saw this giant stone nearby the Archway, though we couldn't read the words. lol.



Lastly, our driver drove us to Qingshui Cliff 清水断崖, one of my favourite place in Taiwan.
No wonder it is said to be  one of the Eight Wonders of Taiwan.

Situated between Heren and Chongde on the Su-Hua Highway, Qingshui Cliff is a big rock formed by Chongde, Qingshui and Heping mountain coastal cliffs.
It stretches more than 21km and rises vertically from the Pacific Ocean, with an average heigh of over 800m.

This section of the cliff is composed of gneiss and marble. It has risen straight up on the eastern coast of Taiwan for thousands of years.
The route along the Qingshui Cliff is the only coastal road in Taroko National Park.

The views were indeed breathtaking.
All the photos here are NOT photoshopped in any way, and taken using my iPhone.

It was near sunset when we reached there, coupled with it being a rainy day,thus the skies were a bit gloomy. If not it would be even more magnificent!


 

With us models in it. Haha
 


 
 


After that, our driver stopped for us to purchase train tickets for our journey tomorrow from Hualien to Taipei. 
Then he fetched us to our hotel for us to drop our luggages in our really pretty Bayview Hotel in Hualien. 

He then dropped us off to a nice little place for dinner. It was there we said goodbye to our driver, Neil and thanked him for an awesome day.

Food was awesome here. Simple dishes but so satisfying and cheap too.

The place we had our dinner. It was nearby the Hualien Night Market, so we walked across the street to have a look.

The entrance to the Night Market.

It was nothing much to see actually. We got bored and left after 20 mins and took a cab back to our hotel.

We booked Hotel Bayview for our stay and the place was really nice.
The hotel is located right on Qixingtan Bay and so it was really convenient for us. That was the main reason to book this hotel because we were short on time. We only had the next morning to visit Qixingtan Beach before we leave for the train station around noon.

Another plus point is the hotel provides free pickup service to and from Hualien Train Station.

This was our hotel + entrance.

 The lobby 
 

We took the Standard Quadruple Room which came with 2 double beds so it fitted us perfectly. 
 
 

There was also a small little cafe within the hotel which provides the guests with free coffee and tea and also snacks!
 
 


Qixingtan Beach 七星潭海邊

The next morning, we woke up early to have a little stroll to Qixingtan Beach.
Bikes are available to every guests of the hotel.
Khye took a bike and cycled to the beach while we walked there.




 


 It was a short walk. We could see our Hotel Bayview from Qixingtan Beach.
 

Qixingtan Beach was really beautiful.



Let me show you a short clip to see how beautiful it was to my eyes.



Qixingtan Beach 七星潭海邊 is a pebble beach so it was actually a must-do thing to do this pebble stacking thingy.

It was early in the morning when the air was still cool and almost no one was there. It was such a beautiful place to be. Weather was perfect too. 

Khye stacking the pebbles.
Such a picturesque photo here with the sea and mountains at the background.

 

Khye feeling pretty good with himself for stacking the pebbles successfully.



Me and my baby.

Just Khye with millions of pebbles around him. 


With 3 of my favourite people.

Us attempting a wefie of all 4 of us.


3 stacks of pebbles this time.


Us trying to do poses here. 
 
 

The beach was so beautiful and serene we were reluctant to leave.
Qixingtan Beach is one of my favourite place for this trip. Really so reluctant to leave.


But at last we had to go back to pack and the Hotel's coach took us to the Train Station.
So off we went to catch our train to Taipei.
 
 
 


For those interested in hiring an English speaking driver in Hualien, Neil Zhang is highly recommended.
He drives a Toyota Camry Hybrid with free in-car Wifi.

His English is excellent and he is more of a guide than a driver. He is very polite (a bit too polite sometimes!) and most importantly, we felt safe in his car even along winding roads all the way in Hehuanshan/Taroko National Park.

He replied to my whatsapp messages very promptly and gave us detailed itineraries and such.
Our planning was easier because of him.

His number is +886 963 369 086




Please click here to read the rest of our adventure in Taiwan:Taiwan With Kids: Taichung 臺中
Taiwan With Kids: Cingjing / Qingjing 清境
- Taiwan With Kids: Hualien 花蓮 - Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 & Qixingtan Beach 七星潭海邊

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