Day 3 – Taiwan’s Great Ocean Road

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Day 3 in Taiwan 🙂 Today we are taking Taiwan’s East Coast tour through the East Rift Valley and the Coast mountains. The first stop of the tour was Liyutan or Carp lake in english. We were caught in abit of a bother and had to wait around 20 minutes before our vehicle was allowed to enter the entrance to the lake, because of some roadworks. Alas, the lake was abit of a disappointment as apparently the only thing to do there was to pedal some cutsey boat one loop around the lake.

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With the Dad and bro ready to conquer the lake
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The mandatory life jackets we have to put on

 

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The ‘dragon’ boats we pedaled
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So So Scenery around the lake

After the little exercise around the lake, our next stop was some old abandoned railway track which I kinda forgot what it was. The history around the place was boring to me so we just ended up cam whoring around the tracks. I mean who can resist not cam whoring around almost empty railway tracks right!

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The beautiful abandoned raiway tracks
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Tryna keep our balance

Our driver brought us to the Tropic of Cancer landmark next. For general information, the world is split into zones on a world map known us the equator, where Singapore is located, below it is the Tropic of Capricon and the Antartic circle. Above the equator is the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic circle. Having been in the Artic circle in Finland, coming to this landmark was something special i guess. We were extremely lucky to have the perfect weather for the entire trip down Hualein east coast, and as our guide put it, Blue, clear skies are best for viewing oceans and foggy days for mountains.The Tropic of Cancer landmark was some tall structure overlooking the ocean, with mountains at its back. The area was extremely scenic and beautiful, and not to mention overcrowded with tourists.

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Topic of Cancer landmark
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Map showing how the world is divided
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The great Pacific ocean
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Scenic Mountains in the backdrop. Blessed with extremely good weather.

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The stunning views from inside our car. Surrounded by clear blue skies, oceans and mountains.

The morning drive was super scenic and the views all around was stunning! We had to settle for an extremely late lunch at around 2pm at a seafood restaurant our guide recommended.As it was near the ocean, the seafood was super fresh and worth the price tag that came along with it. We were so famished we literally ordered every kind of seafood they had on offer, and ended up burning quite a hole in our pocket.Oh did i mention they also serve super fresh amd sweet sashimi here? Of cos, all these have to be washed down by cooling Taiwan beer 😀

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Lobster, Chinese sashimi? fish soup and prawns for lunch 🙂 Every thing was so fresh and sweet.

After filling our bellies with all the seafood we could eat, our drive back to Hualein city began. Along the way, we stopped at nearly all the scenic areas the place had to offer and the real Taiwan’s great ocean road began. The road back to Hualein city offered spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and stunning rock formations of all shapes and sizes. Before we u-turned back to Hulein, we had to cross the newly constructed Caihong bridge, in which it itself was an attraction. Our first stop was Shitiping (石梯坪) which is known for its special geology of sea terrain including the wave-cut platforms, uplifted coral reefs, cliffs and the potholes. Our amazing seafood lunch was near Shitiping Fishing Harbor, and i guess any restaurant there would offer the same kind of fresh seafood.

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Caihong Bridge, the u turn back to Hualein city.
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On the Caihong Bridge, I dunno why my legs were in such a awkward position though.
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Shitiping
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Shitiping.
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You could sit here all day without getting sick of the view.
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Family photo time
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Yes u can go down to those rocks at your own risk.

 

As from the pictures, the weather was not as bright and sunny as in the morning as the day went by. It was getting cloudier and darker by the hour. Afraid that we were unable to catch the rest of the attractions due to the falling light, we quickly got back to the car and continued on towards the Baci View platform. Along the way, we made a another brief stop for pictures. along the coast to have another quite spectacular view of Taiwan’s East Coast. Running out of words to describe the beauty of this place and so I shall let the pictures do the talking 🙂

(insert pics)

 

We were fast running out of daylight as our car made the final stop for the day at the Baci View platform. Basically this platform was situated on top of a hill which gave a bird’s eye view of the East Rift Valley. It was a race against time as we quickly snapped a few photos and admired the scenery before the sun retired for the day.

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Our amazing day down Taiwan’s East Coast ended in downtown Hualein where our guide kindly dropped us off. We bade farewell to her for a wonderful two days around Hualein as we learnt that her husband would be the one taking us all the way to Sun Moon Lake tomorrow. Being our last night here, we stopped by Gong Zheng Bao Zi, (公正街包子店), another one of the must eats here in Hualein. Their speciality was the steamed dumplings and Xiao Long Bao, which is massive as compared to those you eat at Ding Tai Fung. Give the steam dumplings and red bean soya milk a try too while you are there. This store is famous and located conveniently in downtown Hualein, which should be easy to spot.

 

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The Massive Xiao Long Bao, 10 in a basket for TWD 50
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XLB, Steamed Dumplings, Sweet Sour Soup and red bean Soya Milk
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Downtown Hualein

Day 2- Tarako tour

20/12/15.

Good morning from Liga Hotel in Hualein 🙂 Looking forward to our 8 hours Tarako tour today with our private hired guide. Heads up its going to be a picture heavy post ahead. The Tarako area is an extremely scenic area, hence I did snapped alot of photos. As the public transport system is literally non-existent and the attractions are far apart from each other in Hualein, its always good to have a private guide to bring you around and explain stuffs. First up on our busy itenary was QingShui Cliff, one of Taiwan’s top ten scenic sites. Basically its a cliff with extremely blue water, as you guessed from the name. Our guide explained that it was caused by the temperature difference between the waters of the Phillipine sea and the Sea of Japan. I kid you not, the place and our view point of the ocean was extremely beautiful.

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Me at QingShui Cliff 🙂
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The vast Pacific Ocean.

After spending around 20 minutes around the area which honestly was not very big, we hopped on back to our cab and carried on towards the famous and must visit Tarako Gorge. If it is your first time in the Tarako National Park, the first thing you will realise is how scary it is to drive around this place. As the roads in the Tarako National Park is cut through the mountains, land and rock slides are pretty much common around here. There are areas where the rock really looked super unsteady and seems like it can topple any moment. Our guide explained the whole area can be closed during massive earthquakes or typhoons which cause roads to be destroyed by the rock slide. As dangerous as it sounds, one will surely be awestruck by the gorgeous scenery Tarako has to offer. Random fact: Tarako National Park is approximately 3 times bigger than Singapore. Anyhow, the places we visited was the Yan Zi Wo, Tarako Gorge and ended it off with a hike to the Beiyang waterfall. Cute thing about Yan Zi Wo was that you have to wear these safety helmets over your heads in case of any rockfall.

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Walking towards the Swallow’s cave
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Tarako Gorge- The water was supposed to be turquoise but due the heavy rains which washed dirt and soil into the river, it turned grey.
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Yes rockfalls are a legit danger here!
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Hence these are the cute safety helmets that was compulsory to wear.

We stopped by for a quick lunch at a place recommended by our guide and were advised to purchase ponchos if we went to venture behind the Beiyang waterfall. Lunch was just some simple Taiwan fare and the food and place was nothing special, just normal, simple Taiwan food.

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Our lunch place
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My lunch of shrimp fried rice.

After lunch, we headed to what is to me the highlight of the day. A 1.5km hike on the Beiyang waterfall trail. I am a fan of hiking, especially through I was initially quite disappointed not to be able to go behind the waterfall curtain as the ponchos at the store had run out and we couldn’t purchase any. Nevertheless, the start of the walk was quite cool and we had to use our own handphone torch light to pass through a long, dark tunnel.

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Start of the trail. We had to enter that hole by the highway. Highway had to be protected by a concrete roof as this is a rockfall prone area.
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Helmets on! Somewhere in the middle of the trail. Takes around 3 hours to hike to and fro!
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Rugged scenery with the river cutting through the steep mountain cliffs.
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More of the scenery =D

After a somewhat comfortable and enjoyable hike, we finally arrived at the main attraction! The Beiyang waterfall. Well who wouldn’t enjoy it when you are hiking through scenery like that^. To be honest i was a little disappointed at the waterfall, partially because it was so far away and we could not go very close to it as a previous typhoon destroyed the bridge that led close to the waterfall. So meh~ we kinda had to admire its beauty from afar.

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The quite tiny waterfall with my family at the end of the trail.
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River where the waterfall flows to. The white rocks are actually marble slabs, which is what Tarako is famous for.

Remember i said i was quite disappointed cos we could not get the ponchos earlier? Turns out we were thick skinned enough to borrow ponchos from those tourist coming out from the water curtain haha! I was sent ahead to scout first but the darkness and the sound of the rushing water made me terrified to go in alone LOL! Anyway, in the end we managed to borrow enough for all of us to enter so yay! Thanks to all those random kind tourist =D For those of you curious enough, the following pictures depict what was behind the water curtain. Sadly, I could only bring my iphone in as the water literally drips from everywhere and the pics turned out dark and grainy.

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Walking through the water curtain is pitch black and wet!
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The poncho you need to wear cos you will get soaking wet at the end!

Do have a try walking through the water curtain as it is quite an experience and you can goggle for much nicer pictures of this place taken by the pros. Initially I thought this was the end of the day but was quite surprised that we had one last place to visit. And the last place truly took my breath away! It was a beach/mountainous area which was a 30-40mins East from Beiyang. The sun was already starting to set and the sky looks like it was from a painting. There was nothing much to do and my family just spent the 20 mins cam whoring.

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This place was darn beautiful.
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The sky was like a painting
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Set was setting in the opposite direction of the sea LOL!

We subsequently ended our day with dinner at Mr Goose! One of the must eat places in Hualein but from some reason they had low supply of goose that day and we only only entitled to a small portion of their famous dish. Dinner was like Tze Char style and the food was not too bad although I feel the HK version of roast goose beats this hands down. Nevertheless, have a try at this place if you happen to be there.

 

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The famous goose and chicken dish
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Tze char style dinner at Mr Goose
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Pop by opposite as they had an interesting drink called papaya milk
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Streets of downtown Hualein

After dinner, we just walked around downtown Hualein to get a feel of the city. Not much to shop around but a good way to digest your dinner. We headed back to our hotel early and got a good rest from the long day to prepare for the East Rift Valley tour the next day.

Finally ending off this lengthy post and good night from Hualein =D

 

 

Day 1: Singapore- Taipei- Hualein

19/12/16.

Good morning! The day of the long awaited, epic 14 days around Taiwan has finally begun. Months and months of anticipation, planning and all the tiresome admin has finally led to this day. Today is really really going to be one heck of a tiring day cos we will be TRAVELLING the whole fricking day 😦 Super shagged also cos i was at my university Christmas party a few hours earlier. So yes first up, boarding our 6am ish flight to Hong Kong for transit.

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Goodbye SG! At the boarding gate~
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Sun rise lo!

So after landing in Hong Kong (took Cathay Pacific), we realised we had no HKD, hence we were stuck in HK international with no legit money to spend. Luckily, transit only 1hrs and soon after a pretty short flight, we reached Taoyuan airport… in which we were only halfway done with the final destination being at Hualien.

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Bf on board towards HK wasnt that bad 🙂

After a rather lame lunch at the airport cos we were literally starving and it was 2 ish in the afternoon, we manage to navigate with some difficulty to the Kuo-Kwang bus terminal to catch the bus to central Taipei. HIGHLY ADVISE not to eat at the airport and wait till you reach Taipei to eat. If u landed in Taoyuan and want to get to the Taipei Main train station, purchase your tickets for kuo Kwang bus 1819 first at the counter inside the airport, then queue outside at Berth 5 to wait to board the bus. Bus frequency was every 15 minutes so its kinda frequent if you miss one or if its too crowded.

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My Dad’s Lunch. I cant even remember what it was -.- I only took a pic of  it cos it was the most interesting.
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Kuo Kwang Bus 1819 to Taipei.

The seats on board are rather comfortable and it was a pleasant ride which took around 1 hours to get to Taipei Main station. As you probably predicted, i fell asleep throughout the majority of the journey.

So yay finally after reaching central Taipei, my family was finally at the last part of today’s epic journey. THE TRAIN RIDE TO HUALEIN CITY! The train company that operates the express trains to Hualein station is by TRA (Taiwan Rail Association) and once u arrive at Taipei station, just follow the signs towards TRA ticketing booth to purchase your train tickets. I would reccomand taking the Puyuma express trains which cost 100 TWD more and takes around 2 hours to reach Hualein station instead of the local trains which take 3.

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Inside Taipei station which is humongous. The ticketing counter is just right ahead.

Oh yeah, people always advice to book your train tickets before you arrive in Taiwan as this route is rather popular but i choose not to as we were unsure about the exact time we would reach Taipei station so we just bought our tickets on the spot. From my knowledge, there are a number of trains leaving about half an hours apart from the timing we reach Taipei station, which was around 4pm. Anyhow, we boarded the 1630 train outta Taipei. Train was on time, seats were comfortable and overall it was an uneventful ride to Hualein. So far so good!

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On board the puyuma express with our freshly baked red bean buns from Taipei station.
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Arriving at Hualein. Lottas taxi drivers to take you to your hotel but we choose to walk.

The first thing upon coming out of the station… Hualein was cold and windy! Having sat for almost the whole day, we choose to lug all our lugguage and Barang Barang through the streets and use Google Maps to navigate to our hotel. After around a ten minutes walk which led us through some ulu and scary back lane, we arrived! After an epic 13-14 hours journey from SG, we FINALLY reached. All that stands in our way between our rooms and beds was checking in!

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Hotel Lobby. Staff were quite friendly and helpful.
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The room! Pic was taken the next day hence the mess. Small cosy and clean place overall.

By the time we settled down and wash up, we were close to starving to death. After all, our lunch was horrible so we head out to the streets again to find some grub. It was already around 10pm and i dunno if we were hunting for supper or dinner lol. Alas, we decided on some steamboat Shabu Shabu place. Hot steamboat in the cold dark night of Hualein.

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Some weird sour sour appetiser which taste suprisingly good!
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The Ma La and Chicken steamboat
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Shabu Shabu!
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Our dinner in general! Lousy pics cos yoo hungry and tired to take nice photos le 😦

So its Goodbye and Goodnight after dinner as we headed back to the hotel to crash! Been up since 4am and tomorrow’s tour starts at 830am. Wan An and stay tune for more exciting updates tomorrow =D

Hello World =D

09/01/16. Hello world! So i finally finally decided to start my own travel and lifestyle blog after taking like forever to comtemplate. Truth is i was kinda bored sitting in my room on a hot Saturday afternoon and after returning from a family Taiwan trip less then a week ago, i decided to dedicate my first few post to that trip.

Still kinda new to this blogging thingy and i hope i get to learn more cool stuff along the way and be like those cool and zai travel blogs out there LOL! Wish me luck along the way and i really really hope this can be a way to pen down my thoughts and travel experiences, and hope it wont just fade and get deleted in my memory dump.

So a little about myself. How do i look like? Thats me at the beautifully cold and windy town of Shifen in Taiwan. Just graduated from university not too long ago (Goodbye exams and studies) and currently tryna gain a foothold in this harsh harsh world. Caught the travel bug when i was super fortunate to embark on a 5month Student Exchange Programme in Copenhagen, Denmark and it led me on a wonderful journey backpacking across Europe which left me wander struck. Fell in love with seeing the world after that epic adventure (really the best days of my life). First legit solo trip was a two week adventure through Japan, which i will blog about subsequently too =D

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Ok so i think i rambled on enough about myself on the first post, and here’s one of my favourite travel photos to end off my long post. One of the most incredible thing i have seen in my life. SO PRETTY HOR!

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Till Next Time Peeps! =D