Getting Lost in Hualien

2015 Dec Hualien 5

Have you ever tried doing the jump thing?  Try doing it with 5 people.  This took probably 30 attempts…

I’m lost.  Again.  Perhaps this is why I should travel alone.  I’m in Hualien, on Taiwan’s east coast, with three friends.  Last night I reluctantly agreed to meet the rest of the group at 8:30am for our day’s adventure, but that is to me a very late start (considering our day’s plans) so I decide to go for an early walk and buy breakfast.

However, I failed to pay attention to my surroundings and my direction changes, and before long I realize I am completely disoriented.  Every street looks the same, especially after I have returned to the same intersections two and three times.  I have money and water, but no map.

Crap.

I was annoyed that we were getting a late start, and now I’m going to delay our start even more…

First priority.  Food.  I will think clearer after eating.  I buy a banana and some bread, and things start to look better.  I know that store!  I recognize this corner!  I just need to go that way.  Which I do, for 15 minutes, well past the time I recognize that I am NOT going in the correct direction.  I reluctantly turn around.

What I do know is that my hotel is near a Mazda dealership.  If I can just find the Mazda dealer, I will be fine.  I ask a few people on the street “Mazda?”  But with no context, they probably think I am out of my mind.  I give up that tactic.

In a rare turn of events, I find myself a little bit scared – I am lost in a city I arrived in only the evening before, without a map, and I don’t even remember the street name my hotel is on, or, more importantly, my hotel name. 

Adventures indeed.

Finally I make my way back, 40 minutes late.  A casual 30 minute stroll turned into 2+ hours.  I return to the hotel, embarrassed and a bit humiliated.

Oh well.

Off to Mukumugi.  This little slice of heaven is a protected area near the town of Hualien.  Only 300 or 600 people (I’m not sure which, as I see both numbers online) are allowed to enter each day.  No vehicles allowed, you have to hike in.

I spend most of the walk talking with Olivia, which I enjoy very much.  I’ve never had the opportunity to talk with her alone.  She is wonderful to talk with, and I’m sorry we didn’t do this before.

We arrive to a series of crystal clear pools in the river.  Although the water is cold, I’m sorry I didn’t bring shorts.  I didn’t really understand where we were going, so I wasn’t prepared.  I would love to swim.  In the US I would probably just strip to my underwear and jump in, but this is Taiwan.  It’s a little more conservative here.

A few of us goof around, doing “yoga” poses on the rocks.  Good times.

Eventually we make our way back, stopping for lunch at a trailside restaurant halfway through the hike.  The rice is cooked inside a bamboo stalk, which strikes me as an ingenious solution.

(as always, click on any of the photos to see them in a much more reasonable and fun size.  Money back guarantee)

Back in Hualien, I realize I need some solo time.  Cranky-pants Kevin has not quite recovered from his morning adventure, and the bad mood persists.  Map, money, and water in hand, I go for a run while the rest of the group takes the car and goes to dinner.  After a mellow 6 miles, life looks a lot better.

Next day.  We have agreed to meet earlier, and I wisely avoided early morning strolls.  Time to see Taroko Gorge National Park!

Oh. My.

Stunning.

Even half a day at Taroko confirms what I had already suspected – I could happily spend a week in this beautiful place.  The centerpiece of the park is an incredible marble canyon, though apparently that is only a small portion of the park.

We hike a short distance (maybe 1.5 miles?) up one of the popular trails.  Perhaps inspired by the crystal-clear water and lovely canyon, we repeat our silly-poses photos.  

Back in the car, we explore further up the canyon.  Last stop, a temple.  It couldn’t get much more cliche, and I love it.  Nestled in the cliff walls with a waterfall running under it…. perfect.

Dinner…. have I mentioned before that Taiwanese people love to order lots of food?  And the food is typically REALLY good?

This dinner was heaven.  And cost about $25 for 6 people.

 

 

 

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