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Meta Vacation Day 1-2: Taroko National Park

After more than 24hrs of travel from Pittsburgh to Taipei, Taiwan, I touch down and find that we are to engage in a vacation within a vacation (meta-vacation!) off to the mountainous Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) in the eastern part of Taiwan in Hualien (花蓮).

As an aside, JAL is awesome. They had ice cream with dinner. Ice cream. Also, I watched Die Hard in Japanese dubs, which was trippy since the movie is incredibly American. Also this:

Platina Jazz vol 3 at JAL

JAL's fine taste in music: Platina Jazz 3

Platina Jazz vol 3 as an inflight music selection? Awesome. As another aside, if you haven’t listened to Rasmus Faber’s Platina Jazz vol. 3 (or 1-2 for that matter), go do so now. I’ll wait.


After passing out for a few, jet-lagged hours, we ate some delicious, delicious (and cheap! 5 people for about 300NT = $10) Taiwanese breakfast:

Taiwanese Breakfast

Delicious and hella cheap.


Then we got on the train for about 2hrs to Hualien, passing through the mountains that bisect the middle of Taiwan.

Train to Hualien

Long train running.

Of course, had some pork chop bento on the train. From what I’ve been told, it’s a common thing to eat bento on trains, kinda like eating hot dogs in baseball stadiums. It’s a similar thing in Japan as well.

Train bento

Mobile Pork Bento

When we actually got to Hualien, we rented a car and headed into the mountains to reach Taroko National Park. Taroko apparently refers to one of the 16 indigenous tribes that populated Taiwan before the Chinese came over. Its influences can be seen in the hotel we stayed at, the Leader Village Taroko (立德布洛灣山月村).

Leader Village Taroko

Leader Village Taroko

Right when you pull up, there are a bunch of tribal decorations and the like, including a shout-out to Asian darling Jeremy Lin:

Taroko Jeremy Lin

Taroko Jeremy Lin gets all the Taroko ladies

This hotel is actually split up into a main lobby and a bunch of wood cabins of varying sizes. Our hotel room is actually really nice and spacious, easily accommodating our party of 5. The cabins are well-equipped as well, with TVs, A/C, nice showers, and the like. Best part is that even way up in the mountains, we still have internet access (which I’m using right now to write this up)!

Inside the hotel room

Spacious and Connected

Dinner at the hotel also had the mountain influences, with mountain pig, yams, mushrooms, and rice cooked inside a bamboo shoot, which is awesome.

Mountain Dinner

Mountain Dinner

I noticed during dinner that there actually are quite a few foreigners (read: white people) also staying at the hotel. I’m thinking that this area is actually really popular for tourists for whatever reason. Later on, we actually saw the narrow, dangerous mountain roads positively packed with tour buses (and this is during the spring, when kids are in school), so I guess Taroko National Park is really popular.

After getting some real sleep (for the first time in a while), we woke up to the sun actually shining. In Taiwan right now it’s the rainy season and so far it’s been cloudy and humid the entire time.

Sun shining on the hotel

Sun shining on the hotel

After eating breakfast, we headed out to visit the neighboring areas. On one of the trails near the hotel, I saw this spectacle:

What a spectacle, except for the (damn) dam.

What a spectacle, except for the (damn) dam.

The sign says: “What a spectacle, except for the dam”. To be fair, it’s a nice view that would definitely be improved with the removal of the dam. Also this sign:

Smooth all over the body.

Smooth all over the body.

Aw yeah.

We hit Qingshui (Cingshuei) Cliff (清水斷崖), which the description states as one of the “Eight Wonders of Taiwan”.

Qingshui Cliffs

Qingshui Cliffs

There’s a trail near the cliffs which takes you down to a beach nearby which faces the Pacific Ocean, since this is the eastern coast of Taiwan, after all.

We also hit another of the “7 Wonders of Asia” (I really wanna see these lists), Taroko Gorge, which the park is named after.

Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but the Gorge is amazing. It’s hard to see, but the gorge is actually really deep and there’s a river that rushes through at the bottom.

We then headed to Tiansheng (天祥) f0r lunch, then climbed the nearby Xiangde Temple (祥德寺) to see the sights from a better vantage point.

Xiangde Temple

Xiangde Temple

As in the pic above, the temple is actually on a hill. When you climb the temple, at the top there’s this pagoda:


Pagoda at the Top

We climbed the pagoda to then get an even better view of the surrounding area. Reminds me a bit of Game of Death, kinda expected to fight a boss with each level we climbed, with the Final Boss at the top. For those too lazy to grind, here’s (spoiler!) the view from the top:

View from the top

View from the seat of the Final Boss

As my reward for beating the Final Boss, I got this Epic Mount:

Epic Mount

Hi ho!

Posted in Taiwan Travel.

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