f Six Hundred & Forty Three; Le Buddies Taiwan Journey Part I. {Day 1 -3, Hualien, Taiwan}

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Six Hundred & Forty Three; Le Buddies Taiwan Journey Part I. {Day 1 -3, Hualien, Taiwan}

June 28, 2014 / ,


Hello there :)
I'm here to blog about my recent Taiwan trip!
In this post, I will be sharing about our Day 1-3, in Hualien.


Day 1
We arrived at Taoyuan Airport at around 530am,
& I exchanged my money at the airport.
(It was opened at around 6am.)
I didn't have the time to exchange the money in Singapore,
so I was really glad that I could still do so at the airport.
I think the exchange rate was comparable to Singapore's exchange rate,
the difference was rather insignificant for the amount that I exchanged for.


We cabbed to Taipei Station (cab fare was NT$1100),
& took a train to Hualien (NT$792 for two pax, return tickets)
We booked the tickets online, so that we could have seats.



I love how there are several convenience stores in just one station.
Honestly, I think I spent quite a bit in the convenience stores throughout my whole trip.
I did not restrict my spendings for this trip,
and I just spent on whatever food that I felt like having.


Arrived at Hualien,
and walked to our hotel around 10minutes walk away.
Bought a pack of lunch box(便當)from a random shop,
for NT$80, and it came with soup & a bottle of probiotic drink.



Most importantly, it tasted SOOOOO good!!!!
Both buddy and I voted this as one of the best meals for this Taiwan trip.
No joke!
It was so simple, yet so satisfying.


Dropped our luggages in the hotel, 
and went to explore our area.

What is Taiwan without bubble tea?!


We went around to search for shops for car rental.
There were several car rental shops near to the Hualien Station.

*ALERT*
If you are traveling to Taiwan, and intend to drive,
you have to convert your license in Singapore prior to your travel!!!
You will have to show your passport and international driving license.

Rented our car from Pony Leasing and Rental at NT$3600 for two days.
Topped up another additional NT$1126 for full tank petrol
(Actually, full-tank is more than enough.
We were just afraid that we would get stuck in some mountains in Taroko 
if we ran out of petrol. hahahah. kiasu abit.)
By the way, it is left-hand drive in Taiwan.


First stop: QiXing Tan (Qixing Lake) 七星潭 
(Located in Beipu Village, Xincheng Township, in the northeast of Hualien City)




It is not really a lake, but a beach in fact.
What makes this beach unique, 
is how it is naturally filled with black pebbles, and no sand at all.
There is a station for people to rent bicycles here too.




 heheh my 'personal photographer' for my outfit features :)


Traveling always helps me in finding back the genuine smile,
which I sometimes forget while I am trapped in all the stress..


(Some of the photos were edited with my phone applications,
which I was on-the-go,
thus the colour differences. Sorry!)



I love watching the waves hitting the beach,
(not too massive of course, I would get paranoid.....)
& I love listening to the relaxing sound of it.
I think they are exceptionally calming, somehow.


Just as I was about to leave the beach,
someone shouted my name loudly.
No, it wasn't 'Shine Koh‘,
but it was 'KohHuiShan!!!!".
Only very few people address me like that,
only my good friends do!

&... it was my JC good friend!

What a pleasant surprise!
He was in Taiwan for a YOLO Solo trip,
and he cycled to QiXing Tan that day.
I think we were just fated to meet :)
We parted ways and arranged to meet at night.

Randomly bought this ice-cream and it was....
so bad I threw away after 2 mouthfuls :/

Next stop: QingShui Cliff (清水斷崖)
(Located on the section of the Suao-Hualien Highway 

that stretches between Heping and Chongde stations)



It was drizzling by the time we reached this place,
and the sky was kind of gloomy.
Nevertheless, it was quite a spectacular sight.


The cliff is more than 1,000 meters high and drops almost vertically into the sea. 

The highway snakes along its curving face more than 20 kilometers, 
with the sheer cliff rising on one side and a sheer drop to the ocean on the other.



Left this spot and headed back to our hotel area,
to wash up before heading to the night market.
Stopped by this food outlet namely,
Ba Fang Yun Ji (八方雲集),
which specialises in pan-fried dumplings (aka gyozas??)

and sour-spicy soup.

Apparently, there are several outlets all over Taipei too.

The pan-fried dumplings (NT$5 each!) were okay, 
but lacked the extra 'oomph'.
I liked how it did not feel too greasy though.

貢丸湯

We had the corn soup instead of the sour and spicy soup.

This version of the dumplings were delicious!

Headed back to our hotel to wash up,
picked my friend up from Hualien station,
and drove to ZiQiang Night Market


This night market, when compared to the ones in Taipei, is much smaller.
There were only a few 'lanes',
and you can expect to find nothing but food here :)

Tried the Coffin Toast (棺財板)


It was basically thick fried toast with gravy ingredients in the middle, 
and had resemblance to coffins. 
Plus points for the creativity!
We tried the Satay Pork and Gong Bao Chicken.
I preferred the latter.
The pairing of the crispy bread with the thick gravy meat in between,
was heavenly.


Also tried this fried squid stuffed with rice inside.




I came to try this only because I noticed a long queue.
I am a typical Singaporean.
There are two types of corn to choose from: Crunchy vs Chewy,
I opted for the former.
You pick whichever that you want,
pass it to the staff to weigh the corn,
pay and wait for your number to be called
while they grill the corn further with the sauce.

So....... we saw a guy pressing at least 10 corn with his fingers,
while picking his choice.
It was quite an unpleasant sight.....
but oh well. I already made my order.
hahahah. 


The sauce was quite good,
but only on the surface.
The taste was not thick enough,
so after chewing for some time,
you would find it rather bland, especially on the inside.



My best random find of the night: QQ Balls!!!!
Nevermind that it was oily and carbo-rich,
it tasted so good with the sour plum powder!

That summed up our Day 1 :)

Day 2

On Day 2, we toured the Taroko National Park area.
Le buddy drove for about an hour.

First stop: Shakadang Trail (沙卡礑步道) 
aka Mysterious Valley





Thankfully, this was an easy trail,
with a relatively flat and nicely-paved path.



Crystal-clear Shakadang River that winds through marble canyons
and boulder-shrewn flats.



Alluring sight of the turquoise river




Such a simple and beautiful view of the river :')
The river flowed really gently and it felt so calming and relaxing.
This was one of my favourite spots for this trip!

I.. was not in the appropriate footwear because 
I did not know that we would be walking quite a bit in Hualien,
and I forgot to ask buddy about it. Heh.....


I focused on the river instead of him. hahahah.


It started drizzling, and le serious photographer was trying to
capture a good shot while protecting his lens.

There was a stoppage sign which prohibited us from walking any further,
so we u-turned and headed back to the entrance.
Total distance covered was approximately 3.1km.

"The Shakadang Trail officially ends at 3D (sometimes written as 5D) Cabin. 
However, if you have permits (you can apply for them the same day at the park's police stations), 
you can continue on the Dali–Datung Trail (大禮-大同步道, Dàlǐ–Dàtóng Bùdaò) 
to Dali and Datung, 
two isolated aboriginal villages. 
This trail should take about seven to eight hours, return."

We drove around for awhile,
and passed by the Swallow Grotto (燕子口),
which was packed with tourists so we gave that a miss.

CiMu Bridge aka Mother Devotion Bridge (慈母橋)


We were famished by then,
so we headed to Tian Xiang.

I love sweet potatoes and these helped me to replenish some much-needed energy.


We ordered this bamboo rice and naively thought that 
there would be some fillings inside........
but we were obviously wrong.

The bowl of very oily Mushroom chicken(or pork. I forgot) noodles soup.

Completed my lunch with a flower ice-cream.

Next location: BaiYang WaterFall (白楊步道)

*ALERT*
You will have to pass through some pitch black tunnels
before you get to see the waterfall,
so do bring along a torch light!

I really disliked the dark tunnels though..
They made me feel really vulnerable, somehow.




Suspension bridge


Achieved this milky effect by using the 'Waterfall' mode of my compact camera

This was how it actually looked like.


Spectacular view of the waterfalls,
amongst the mountains.
I loved it!!!!!



We continued walking, and our next stop: Water Curtain (水濂洞)

We only had one umbrella,
(you will need a raincoat/umbrella, because the water will gush from the roof.
Unless you do not mind getting completely drenched!)
so I told J to go ahead to explore the tunnel,
while I waited outside with our bags.
This shot was captured by him :)
Total distance conquered: 4.2km (to and fro)

Eternal Spring Shrine 長春

We left Taroko, and on our way back to our hotel,
we stopped by an outlet selling Polo Bun.

Bought this Taiwanese Tempura (甜不辣) from another random stall,
and it was so satisfying!
This made up for the not-too-good lunch that we had. 

Rested for awhile in the hotel.
We drove to Nanbin Night Market,
only to find out that it was closed.
(No idea why???)

Headed to Hualien City,
and searched for the famous Gong Zheng Bao Zi (公正包子)
Look at the crowd!



I wanted to try the steamed dumplings, but they were sold out.
So we bought two Xiao Long Baos 小籠包 (for just NT$5 each!!!!! ).
The staff was not polite at all though..
Nevertheless, the buns were really good!
It's not the kind of bite-sized XLBs that we have in Singapore,
but more like the Char Siew Bao kind.
A must-try indeed :)

I also tried 1 bun from the stall right beside.
And hmm.. I'll say, stick to Gong Zheng Bao Zi.

Fried Chicken

I was addicted to these QQ Balls!

We also had a bowl of Braised Pork with rice from a random stall,
and two big cups of papaya milk and green bean milk.

We headed to QiXing Tan again,
but we were unlucky because it was really cloudy so we couldn't see the stars.
Stayed there for a while to enjoy the breeze though :)
And that summed up our Day 2!

Day 3

We had to return the car by 130pm, 
so we drove around in the morning to explore the place.
We drove to LiYu Lake 鯉魚潭,
but it was drizzling,
and the sky was too gloomy and cloudy, 
so we literally toured one round around the area and left the place. 

Drove past Hualien Farglory Ocean Park along Hai'an road,
and stopped at this Provincial Highway 11,
facing the Pacific Ocean.











Expression........




Returned the car,
and caught our 2pm train back to Taipei.
Ending this post with this photo of a petrol kiosk.
It says,  ‘自己為自己加油’
(Add Oil for yourself)
Pun intended.
I love it so much! :)

Alrighty, I will share about Taipei in another post (or two!)
:)

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