Last weekend I was invited for the second time to visit Ying Shen’s family region. The first time I could not go, due to typhoon Usagi presence on the island. We had to wait for over half year for another occasion and this time it finally happened (with small obstacles on the way, however).
As always when YS plans the trip, everything was very well organised and we had lots of fun! There was for of us: Ying Shen, Poru, Dominik and I.
We took a train from Taipei and arrived in Hualien City on late, Saturday afternoon. Hualien is the largest county in Taipei, and by many is considered to be the most beautiful largely because of the Taroko Gorge.
After leaving our luggage in a hostel, we rented scooters and drove to the seaside. At the eastern part of Taiwan, seashore is very dangerous and the depth of the water is very high right next to the shore. There are also many dangerous currents. For those reasons there is nobody swimming in the sea, just dipping legs ankle-high. It is a shame, especially on a hot, summer day, but safety first of course.
On our way back to the hostel, we stopped at an alcohol distillery, where we admired many, beautifully designed bottles filled with fire-water.
On Sunday morning, we took a train to Yuli Township 玉里鎮, where most of YS’s family comes from. YS’s dad – mister Jiang – picked us up at the train station and drove us to a local vegetarian restaurant where lunch was already waiting for us! The food was absolutely delicious and the restaurant owners very friendly – foreign faces are not often seen in that region of Taiwan, so we were dragging lots of curious eyes.
After the meal, mister Jiang drove us to his nearby rice fields and told us a bit about the process of harvesting the fields. The view was breathtaking.
Next, we were driven to the Liushishi Mountain (Sixty Stone Mountain). It is situated at an elevation of around 800 meters above sea level, in the Coastal Mountain Range.
We were lucky to be there at a time when the daylily was just beginning to bloom. The daylily plantation covers over 300 hectares. During the blooming time, the flowers get an intense yellow colour, so the whole mountains are turning into “golden mountains”. The flower is a popular ingredient in traditional, aboriginal dishes. We are lucky to have tried it on several occasions, it tastes very nice.
However, the flowers have to be picked before the full bloom (the petals still have to be closed), otherwise it cannot be used for cooking.
Our next goal was to see the bridge in Sanxiantai. Sanxiantai 三仙台 is an area containing several islands, beaches and reefs. The rocky beach stretches for over ten kilometres. It is a popular spot for watching sunset over the Pacific ocean.
The arched bridge was designed to resemble a traditional, legendary, chinese dragon. It connects the mainland with the biggest island of the archipelago.
Three, huge rocks, which are the most distinctive element of the area, are believed to represent gods, named Li Tieguai,Lu Dongbin and He Xiengu, who visited the place and left three pairs of footprints. It is not surprising then, that the name of the island translates to the “Terrace of the Three Immortals”.
We had a long drive back to mister Jiang’s home (where we were invited to spend the night), so in order to relax a little, we stopped at some mountain hot springs 🙂
The next day, after most delicious breakfast in Taiwan ever, we drove to The Xiuguluan River 秀姑巒溪 for a four-hour rafting experience. For hours was a bit too long and we ended up being completely soaked and cold. But we managed to go all the way down to the sea side, where once again mister Jiang picked us up.
In the late evening we took a train back to Taipei. It was such a wonderful weekend! Mister Jiang was most hospitable and spent the whole time driving us around his home region. An absolute unique experience!