Most of our time was spent relaxing and enjoying the city & food but we did make a few excursions. Our first trip was to Liyu Lake! It took longer to get to than expected – the first bus we caught had the driver smoking inside and all the windows closed… we about died from that, got off, walked around town until we could find another bus 😅. But we were able to spend the whole day walking around the lake, we saw lots of cool wildlife and then discovered Taiwan has sandflies… a lot of them 💀. I got plenty of nice scars from them – just after my sand fly scars from Australia faded! Anyways, it was an awesome side trip!
Another day we walked out to Qixingtan Beach, known for vacations and its views… and honestly could’ve done without that verrrry far walk lol. The beach was unswimmable, it was totally cloudy so no views, and the town was empty. And then we waited forever at the bus stop, after it was very late we finally gave up and started walking home… then guess what passed us no more than two minutes later? Yeah, the bus. Lol. So we trekked home in the dark, but it was cool passing their air force base and seeing their fighter jets take off!
Then we finally made it out to Taroko Gorge. We somehow lucked out after being #47 on a waitlist and got permits to do the Zhuilu Old Trail, which was basically a trail carved out of the cliff face! Only 97 people a day are allowed to go, so we felt really lucky to get those! We didn’t realize that the buses to get there on time for our time slot totally filled up super early though!
So once again, we missed our bus. The couple right behind us had the same problem… so we all decided to split a taxi to be able to make our trail time, and we ended up hiking the whole trail with them and made new friends! 😃 and the trail was so beautiful!! Like Taiwan has some unreal scenery!
We enjoyed it so much, we went back again… this time early to catch the bus… which we caught, but it also had a major delay when a car in front of us was completely flipped over and we had to wait for it to be removed (luckily it seemed like the driver would be ok!!). That day we did Swallows Grotto (which was short but had AMAZING views!) and a long trail through the gorge… and just wow. I’m surprised the place isn’t entirely blown out to be honest. It was gorgeous the whole way!
We also rode our bikes allll over! One of the days we rode the opposite direction of Qixingtan.. I think it ended up being like 16 miles away that we found a beautiful stretch of rocky beach, an old shrine, and some old military bunkers with amazing views of the city… and it was basically just us the entire day too!
After Hualien we had originally booked a route to head back to Taipei for a couple of days and then head to the Philippines for a month, followed by Japan, then Hawaii to meet family… but life had other plans so those plans changed. Which I’ll cover more in the following update.