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→ 太魯閣牌樓→(清水斷崖)→七星譚→花蓮(洄瀾灣民宿)

Once again, we do not have the luck to view the sunrise on our last day at Starry Minsu (Cingjing).
We went round and took some final photos of our homestay before filling our tummies with a hearty

Taken from our balcony
The balconies are connected quite openly, so its quite inevitable to appear at your balcony in the
morning and seeing your fellow neighbours in close proximity!

view of the houses below us, since we are at the top of the mountain

homemade pinwheel from recycled bottle

common area at our minsu
common area at our minsu viewed from our balcony
dinner menu(steamboat +BBQ)

extra information in a folder in our room drawer
We took some final photos with du bii and 李大嫂 before we bade goodbye to Cingjing and embarked
on our Taroko journey with another 李大哥-李德明. We know of  李德明 as he and his wife,
Tiffany are both quite highly sought after for Hualien road trips on the internet. He told us that Tiffany,
his wife, mainly manages their internet 'business' -liasing with potential customers and involves in
 driving customers within Hualien, while he himself specialises in longer trips like from Cingjing to
Hualien, vice versa. He charged us NT5000 +NT500. The extra NT500 is for making a trip to 清水断崖,
 as it's not quite along the way but it provides a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean if the weather
permits. Its certainly worth adding the NT500 in exchange for a tantalising treat for the senses (eyes)!

We first reached the entrance of Taroko National Park. Its quite impossible to walk through the whole
 stretch of the park and the different attractions within the natural beauty, unless you have 'metal legs'.

Then we went Wu Ling! It was 9 degree celsius. Our first taste of temperature below double digit!
We still trembled despite wearing jackets and 李德明大哥 was just wearing a long sleeve shirt and trousers.

Wu Ling is the highest automobile pass in Taiwan, and the road leading to it is winding and narrow 
throughout. At certain times, its visibility is very low and cars are often advised to turn on their headlights 
so as to be able to warn incoming vehicles coming from opposite directions. A skillfill driver is certainly 
a must to maneuver through the winding paths! 
view from wu Ling

李德明大哥 reminded us to tell him if we experience any breathing difficulties or discomfort as our 
body might not adapt to the sudden change in altitude which might results in a lack of oxygen. 

Finally we reached He Huan Shan, one of our main highlight for our road trip! It was a Sunday morning
 and there's quite a few locals around indulging in the natural environment! Along our way there we also
saw a few mountain bikers riding up the peak. A good stamina is a must for them!

He huan Shan!
Once we stepped out of our warm enclosed car cabin, we still couldnt fill the coldness. But after a
 minute or two, the cold just 'pierced' through us. Clsoe to unbearable. I can feel my cheeks 'freezing'
 and soon, we were able to breathe out mist, just! Our teeth chattered and the lowest temperature that
we experienced at He Huan Shan was 6.9 degree celsius!
lowest degree experienced!

It was very foggy at He Huan Shan. We were like in the clouds, when viewed from the base of the
mountain. Our cabby told us that in the morning it was about 4 degree celsius when he drove from
Hualien to Cingjing to fetch us. He lives in Hualien and he has leave his house at 3am to reach Cingjing
at 9am! During winter, the temperature at Hehuanshan can be 0 degree celsius and even snowing!

A little drive down hill from Hehuanshan, we saw this mountain surrounded by cloud/mist that we were
 in just now!

Now that we left the peak of He huan shan, the fog starts to clear up.
the winding 'mee sua' route
The winding route will persist till we reach Tian Xiang (天祥)where we will have our lunch. There's
lesser 'attractions' along our way to 天祥, major attractions of our day trip within Taroko Gorge will be

'stream' of water juxtaposed between two mountains
more mountain photos!

This place can be dangerous if it rains and landslides may happen!

steep slope!

We reached 碧綠神木 (Bilyu Sacred tree) at 11am. This tree is estimated to be 3000 years ago.
 It has braved through the numerous harsh weathers yet remains standing tall at 50m! Temperature
 here rose back to a double digit figure.

Bilyu Sacred Tree

mountains again!
Bilyu Sacred Tree bark
And after a 30 minute drive, we reached SinBaiYang. It's famous for giving visitors a feeling as if they
reached heaven as it provides a magnificient view of neighbouring mountains with clouds at their peaks.
SinBaiyang is at the middle of Hehuanshan.

we are at the same level with the mountains! ~

Sadly, More 'mee sua' road ahead! People prone to motion sickness beware!

After enduring one hour of road trip through the winding road, we finally reached 天祥!李德明大哥
told us that normally people who get motion sickness during his trip are Singaporeans. Thinking back,
 its quite true as how often do we experience this kind of long winding roads?
Tourists information centre @ Tian Xiang

Xiangde Temple on a hill.
We had a quick but light lunch as we were afraid of further winding road ahead. We ordered two plates
of bee hoon, a plate of noodle and Bamboo rice. Its bee hoon and mee are quite oily and there arent
any ingredient except for a few pork fat/meat. But it was too fatty and oily, we gave up on eating the
 meat and just had plain beehoon/mee. Overall, we find Taiwanese tend to have a liking for oily
noodles/beehoon. We saw '油面' at one of its supermarket in Dream Mall. However Taiwan bee
 hoon is finer than what you have in Singapore. Cingjing Bamboo rice tasted more fragrant than this
 bamboo rice. But the difference in the bamboo rice at 天祥 is that it uses purple rice (紫米).
We passed by 天祥梅園 on our way to Xiangde Temple.
Image courtesy of Google
There are plenty of Plums on the plum trees planted beside the walkway.
To get to Xiangde Temple, we have to first pass a bridge that leads to a flight of stairs before you will
reach the base of the temple.
普渡桥 leading to Xiangde Temple

Image courtesy of Google - the bridge
While we crossed the bridge there, the stream (?) below us is magnificent! The air feels fresh and you
can hear the current of water crashing pass the rocks.

view along the way to Xiangde Temple

Xiangde Temple
          look at the flight of staircase at the left!

base of Xiangde Temple

View of the river from the temple
Our driver brought us to an area near Xiangde temple where we cross a bridge and the view of the river
 is even spectacular.Each time only 8 people can cross the bridge but i guess slightly more than the stated
of people should be okay.

view from the bridge. Raw photo! No editing done!
One end of the bridge leads us to 慈母桥。

the bridge that we crossed!
That's where we get the magnificent view of water gushing down the rocks.


origin of Ci mu Qiao

view from Ci mu qiao

view from ci mu qiao. The winding route is the path we are taking to our next destination
Basically, every part of landmark after Tian Xiang is breathtaking! Very natural and it's definitely something
 that city people seldom see! It's no surprise that Taroko Gorge is known as one of the seven wonders of
Asia! It certainly lives up to its name.

 on our way to 燕子口by passing the outside of九曲洞
Originally, we planned to go 九曲洞 first before heading to 燕子口, however as the rocks in the 九曲洞 
was not very stable and there's falling rocks, due to safety concern, the attraction was closed for a period
 of time. 

thats the bridge in which mountain hikers climb to reach the peak of a mountain. The bridge was situated very high above!

The bridge wasn't for entry though
more river current!
We reached the Swallow Grotto (燕子口步道)at around 2pm.

We were supposed to rent safety helmets from pitstops to prevent suffering from injury in the case of
 fallen rocks. However i feel that its generally safe, if there's no rain in which landslides may happen.
Some of the big rocks even have nets cast over them!

vertical 90 degrees mountain!

Doesn't that looks like 印第安人's face (Indiana)?

Sipan Dam
The Sipan dam was built in the 1940, during the Japanese era. It made use of the steep drop in
elevation of the Liwu river to run the main generator.


eternal Spring shrine @ Chang Chun ci
central cross-island highway changchun bridge

There are three temples at Chang chun which houses the ancestor tablets of those who died
(approx 226 people) while building the central cross island highway (中西横贯公路). The highway
 was the first to cross Taiwan's central mountain range.

central cross island highway
We arrived near the coast of the pacific ocean in a 15 mins car drive from the highway at 3.20pm. The
view is simoly priceless and who would have thought we could ever witness the pacific ocean, largest
ocean in the world! It was all read in books in the past, but now, its truly a whole new unforgettable

a gigantic net equipment cast to catch the fishes
The net seems permanent. As we still saw it there during our train journey to Kaohsiung the next day.


李大哥drove us to 清水断崖 for the spectacular view as seen in the photos above. It's a sightseeing 
area but reckon to be a little out of place from the supposed route that we are taking. But anyway most 
drivers would gladly drive you there if the weather is fine, but at an extra fee. But i can assure you if you
are a nature lover, this place is a must visit if the weather permits!
He showed us another area where we the photo of the cingshui cliff was taken in brochure and it is equally....beautiful. Even I feel that describing it with beautiful, is an understatement.

The image at the bottom right of the screen shot was from the official Taiwan (Taroko Gorge) web. That picturesque image would not be possible if captured from 清水断崖 sightseeing 'landmark' but at a further 
5 mins drive down from there.
what we took

The colours may be a little off but its certainly taken about the same spot as the image from Taiwan
tourism board.
train railway track
The train from Hualien to Taipei will bypass the hole seen on the above image, hence bringing u a
breathtaking view while on the train to Taipei city.

different colours of the ocean signifies its depth

The lighter colour signifies its shallowness while the deeper colour shows an abrupt change in the
'ocean level'- A deeper ocean level.
daring travellers/locals seen fishing off the rocks of the pacific ocean. 
The process of heading down from where we are to the rocks at the bottom can be treacherous due to
 its steep slope. 李大哥shared with us that they need the aid of ropes to scale down the steep mountain
slopes, which can be a threat to their safety if not handled well.

the steep slope
Our experience of the pacific ocean does not just stop there.

In about half hr cab ride, we arrived at another viewing site of the Pacific ocean - 七星潭! It's basically
a beach and quite popular for locals there for picnics and a play area for children. There is no sand but
pebbles! It is famous also for its 卵石(pebbles)! There's quite a few vendors selling cuttlefish there.

Along the way to 七星潭, our cabby shared with us a trival fact in Taiwan that cemetery are called
 '夜总会‘. Figure the reason out yourself!
people chatting while admiring the vast ocean view

We collected some pebbles for collection. The natural designs of the rocks are all very unique and
nice looking!
七星潭 is our last destination with 李德明大哥 before we head to our Hualien minsu. 
李德明大哥 had been very helpful in answering our questions about Taroko Gorge attractions.
He is very experienced in this route and shared with us fascinating facts about some of the attractions.
He also provides brilliant suggestions for photo taking at certain scenary too! He is worth considering if
you are planning for a trip through Taroko Gorge. A skillful and experienced driver is quite important
considering the numerous 'treacherous' road along the way!

李德明大哥and his 6 seater cab

李德明大哥 namecard for reference
 We reached Hualien Bay minsu at around 5.15pm. We thanked 李德明大哥 for accompanying us on this
fulfilling road trip!

Hualien Bay Minsu

Here at Hualien Bay Minsu, the owner, Andy gave us a warm welcome and came to the gate to receive us.
After chattings later, we came to know that he is a retired teacher.
Before setting into our room at the main living room, he came to know that we are taking tomorrow's
morning TRA to Kaohsiung. But as we had not purchased the tickets, he helped us to check the timing
and tickets availability without asking. Unfortunately, the train @ 11.37am which we wanted to take was
sold out. The only available trains operates at 8.20am,1+pm. The train ride is supposedly 5 hours however
Andy's wife recommended us to take the earlier one as train timing are usually not fixed and the 1+pm one
can drag and we might only reach Kaohsiung at night.
He helped us book the tickets and print the confirmation for collection at any 7eleven outlets.

Hence, something to note, TRA tickets are often sold out fast, it's best to purchase online a few days
before hand to prevent disappointment. And also do click English mode instead of chinese, as if you click
chinese, it requires a Taiwan ID number in which foreign travellers doesnt have.

We were treated to soya bean milk before heading up to our rooms. Our original room is one with
double storey, but the owner decided to give us the option of another room with direct view of sunrise.
 We gladly took the added option though theres no double story now. The room that we eventually stayed in is a
newly added room which was a living room actually but due to little usage and children running about
 the common area, they redesigned it into a room.
Andy's wife told us that we can view the sunrise at about 5.10am however once again, we cant view
any again the next day morning.

Beds + toilet

piano + sliding door (entrance of room)
We had a short chit chat session with their guest, a nearby 国中's principal and his wife. He shared with us some of the daily school life in Taiwan and we shared about Singapore's life. We know from Andy that most of the
houses in Hualien is only at most two storeys tall. So practically, if you were to live in Hualien, you will be
 living in a 'bungalow'! This is due to its high earthquake rate in which the locas are already immune to it
already. Even if it happens during school time, students aare well equipped with the knowledge of how to
ensure their safety. There's a lot of land space in Hualien however little people in terms of proportion as
most especially the young adults has ventured out to the city to work.

We roamed around his backyard too. Overall Andy rear roosters/goose/turkey/duck/2goats and 
2 dogs - pang pang and niu niu.

the smaller goat is only one month old while the other is the mother goat.

We departed at 6.30pm to Hualien 'triangle shopping area' where the hustle and bustle of Hualien City is
ongoing. We saw major fruit stores, traditional rice stores. It's only a ten minutes ride away. He
recommended us ‘鹅肉先生’ and 公正包子'for our dinner.In the end we tried a mixed rice vege store
 just opposite of 公正包子shop. We bought 2 鲁肉饭@NT20each,蛋炒饭NT45,排骨饭@NT65。
The 排骨饭 doesnt seem to have 排骨, but meat.
After that we went to try 公正包子. It's full house on a Sunday night. They wont usher you a seat, you
 find your own seat and dont be deceived by the staircase. Seats are only available on the first floor. We
bought a couple of 包子. They are cheap but doesnt quite suit our liking. We find it a little too salty for
comfort. However its still worth giving this shop a try, since its quite famous and popular on tourism web
and also with the locals.

We went to 曾记Muachee to buy some souvenirs. They were having a promotion there to celebrate their
 shop anniversary. 30 years since opening i think. Customers are able to purchase fresh red bean mua chee
 at NT1, with every purchase at their shop. We bought some souvenirs and redeemed the red bean mua chee.
 It taste alright but perhaps the mua chee skin can be thinner a bit. It's Ma shu bing, seems even nicer than
its ma shu (Mua Chee)!
mini mua chee as souvenir back Singapore
We called Andy to fetch us at around 9 after we bought the TRA tickets at the 7eleven. It's quite fast
through online booking then redeem at convenience store. money paid at 7eleven. Andy then drove us to
buy sky lantern as we mentioned to him our interest before. He recommended us sparkles/fireworks but we
didn't purchase those.

When we were back at his minsu, he led us to a session of fireflies viewing at his backyard. Initially we
couldnt spot any, but after a while of patience, we could see a few like 5 fireflies. They were very brightly
 lit and their flying altitude is higher than normal fireflies.We went in the early evening at 6 plus but couldnt
spot any, luckily this time at 9 + we could. Its considered an added bonus as we totally didnt expect it!

We fill the lantern with our wishes. We wrote two sides though instead of the four sides of the lantern
. Andy aided us in lighting up the 冥纸 placed at the base of the lantern.

first attempt at 放天灯

Once we let go, it rose up very fast. It stayed up at the sky within visible range for quite some time. But it
just get smaller and smaller. 

May the sky lantern carry our wishes and fulfill them!
We went to a provision departmental store at Hualien. It features all sorts of goods from food items
to household equipment. What surprised us was that they actually use paper bags to pack our purchased
goods, may it be food, cream, keyboard, can food... How environmental friendly but i feel perhaps a
paper bag with some handle would be better as buyers without a bag would have to lug their loots
back using their hands.


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