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Taiwan Hualien Taroko Gorge

10 March 2017

Engorged

Today I went to Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwans 2 main tourist attractions. Dont worry I am going to the other one as well later in my trip. I know you were worried.
Taroko Gorge is a deep Gorge that starts at the ocean, has high cliffs, lots of waterfalls and walking trails and millions of tourists. Unless you go on a rainy weekday, which I did.
It actually wasnt too rainy, I put my coat on for a while, but forgot to take a photo to celebrate, it was too hot with it on and I was getting wetter from sweat than I would from rain.
The skills of the bus drivers going along the gorge are not to be sneezed at. In many parts the road is too narrow to pass in each direction, so they go backwards, around corners, and I did not die, and I dont think anyone did today. I did not see any bus wrecks at the bottom of ravines, despite thousands of them crowding the place on weekends.

It costs a grand total of $10 to ride all the buses you want all day including to and from Hualien which is about 45 minutes away, theres no other fee to pay at all. Great for people like me who are very poor and can only afford to holiday in cheap locations.
The bus generally runs about every hour if its on time, and you need it to get between the different attractions, theres no option to walk, some of the road tunnels are over a kilometre long with no pedestrian access.

In the middle of the day there is no bus for about 90 minutes, so you have to carefully time that one if you need to get it, I lead a bunch of French backpackers astray so they would miss it, heres how -
They got off at the same stop as me and I headed up a trail, the bus was coming in an hour. I walked up that trail for 45 minutes, and they followed me. Once at the end I knew I had 15 minutes to get back, so I ran, at full speed. They looked super confused and ran briefly and gave up. Now they are waiting 90 minutes for a bus on the side of the road.

There are more things to see than you can do in a day in the gorge, even though much of it is closed off and has been for many years due to the most recent earthquake destroying a lot of the trails.
They also strongly suggest you wear a helmet, they give them out free at the visitor centre at the 1st stop, I stayed on the bus at that stop therefore I had no helmet. Photo opportunity missed.
Generally, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese will not wear a helmet either, so you can immediately tell which tour groups are from Singapore, they are the ones wearing the helmets following all the rules.

There are a lot of pics, get your scrolling wheel lubed up or placed your finger firmly on the page down button now.

Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - This is my bus to the gorge. I was pleased to see the drivers having to blow into an alcohol testing machine before starting their shifts.

This is my bus to the gorge. I was pleased to see the drivers having to blow into an alcohol testing machine before starting their shifts.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - I stayed on the bus to the last station at the top of the tourist part of the gorge. They have a 7-eleven, which is great! I needed supplies. The road

I stayed on the bus to the last station at the top of the tourist part of the gorge. They have a 7-eleven, which is great! I needed supplies.
The road continues well beyond here, to the other side of Taiwan, it takes many hours and there is only one bus per day.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Much of the road is like this, cut into the cliff and covered due to rock slides. Still it gets closed often, due to rock slides. Hence the need for h

Much of the road is like this, cut into the cliff and covered due to rock slides. Still it gets closed often, due to rock slides. Hence the need for helmets.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - My first journey of the day is to a waterfall, through about 5 tunnels. Some were long, curved and so dark I walked with an outstretched arm. At one p

My first journey of the day is to a waterfall, through about 5 tunnels. Some were long, curved and so dark I walked with an outstretched arm.
At one point, I heard animals running towards me, it was pitch black, giant rats? They stopped and were messing about with my boots. I just stood still. Thankfully they ran off.
I turned around and there was still enough light to realise they were a pack of little white fluffy dogs, their owner nearly walked straight into me in the darkness.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - There will be a lot of pictures of mountains extending into clouds. You cant easily climb any of them, the paths are closed off, and those that are op

There will be a lot of pictures of mountains extending into clouds. You cant easily climb any of them, the paths are closed off, and those that are open require special permits and guides.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Nice river.

Nice river.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - This sort of thing also happens here.

This sort of thing also happens here.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Time for a swing bridge near a waterfall, good times.

Time for a swing bridge near a waterfall, good times.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - View one from bridge.

View one from bridge.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - View two from bridge, waterfall.

View two from bridge, waterfall.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - I crawled through a hole in the fence to check out the ventilation shaft of one of the tunnels.

I crawled through a hole in the fence to check out the ventilation shaft of one of the tunnels.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - The signs warning about rock fall were particularly severe between these two tunnels. Advising people to run between them. They should probably erect

The signs warning about rock fall were particularly severe between these two tunnels. Advising people to run between them. They should probably erect a shelter.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Picture for scale, look at those loaders / diggers. A helmet will be a great defence against those rocks.

Picture for scale, look at those loaders / diggers. A helmet will be a great defence against those rocks.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Almost back to the bus stop, there are a few hotels at the top of the gorge such as this one. They are all kind of hidden from view. Apparently theres

Almost back to the bus stop, there are a few hotels at the top of the gorge such as this one. They are all kind of hidden from view. Apparently theres a petrol station somewhere too.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - I had enough time before the bus to climb the stairs and see buddha.

I had enough time before the bus to climb the stairs and see buddha.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - And of course, the temple. Which is new. I suspect the old one was destroyed in the earthquake.

And of course, the temple. Which is new. I suspect the old one was destroyed in the earthquake.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Now I am at stop number 2, half way back. It is called the swallows grotto, where swallows make nests that then get farmed to be boiled to make soup.

Now I am at stop number 2, half way back. It is called the swallows grotto, where swallows make nests that then get farmed to be boiled to make soup. Delicious birds nest soup.
Mainland tour groups were super excited.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - The swallows make nests on the cliff face. I dont know how they farm the nests.

The swallows make nests on the cliff face. I dont know how they farm the nests.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - There is a cafe here, they sell coffee. Civet coffee. At least thats their claim, civet coffee is processed via the digestive system of monkeys. Delic

There is a cafe here, they sell coffee. Civet coffee. At least thats their claim, civet coffee is processed via the digestive system of monkeys. Delicious.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Its a river at the bottom. The cliffs are very steep and very high. It is really hard to photograph and give a sense of scale.

Its a river at the bottom. The cliffs are very steep and very high. It is really hard to photograph and give a sense of scale.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Some kids from Singapore following the rules with their helmets.

Some kids from Singapore following the rules with their helmets.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Redundant photo #1.

Redundant photo #1.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Redundant photo #2.

Redundant photo #2.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Now I am back at the bottom of the gorge. I went straight to the top and worked my way back. This is the area near the information centre. Nice view.

Now I am back at the bottom of the gorge. I went straight to the top and worked my way back. This is the area near the information centre. Nice view.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - Keep out.

Keep out.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - That, on the horizon, is the ocean.

That, on the horizon, is the ocean.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - I still had one more hike to walk / run. Which took me under this red bridge. This hike is called the molar (as in tooth) hike.

I still had one more hike to walk / run. Which took me under this red bridge. This hike is called the molar (as in tooth) hike.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - More view of gorges.

More view of gorges.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - This was the path for much of this hike, very well maintained, no climbing, just ducking. I saw a 7 foot tall Chinese guy, in his national team track

This was the path for much of this hike, very well maintained, no climbing, just ducking. I saw a 7 foot tall Chinese guy, in his national team track suit. He was not enjoying himself.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - This path, as you will see, takes you to an aboriginal village. I got passed by a slightly more modern version of these things carrying aboriginal fam

This path, as you will see, takes you to an aboriginal village. I got passed by a slightly more modern version of these things carrying aboriginal families. They barely go above walking speed.


Taiwan-Hualien-Taroko Gorge - And here is the end of the trail, the full trail is much longer but blocked off. I think there is a much bigger village further along the path but you

And here is the end of the trail, the full trail is much longer but blocked off. I think there is a much bigger village further along the path but you currently cannot go there.
I highly recommend Taroko gorge.


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