A Tour of Taroko National Park

A few weekends ago I explored Hualien City, the county seat of Hualien, with my friend Josh (who by the way is super talented and responsible for all of the pictures of myself that I included in this article.)

I wanted to show him one of Taiwan’s most scenic areas so naturally we ventured to Taroko National Park!

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This was a slightly ambitious one day trip, however from Taipei we were able to make it to the park and enjoy the sights all before it got dark. To maximize your time you just need to be sure to get up early the day of and do some research prior to arriving in Hualien City.

There are two methods of getting to Taroko National Park, the first being by combo ticket and the second by taking a direct train. The two are close in cost, with the direct train being the faster and more comfortable option. For more information on transportation between the two cities, consult this expertly written blog.

Josh and I decided before hand that we were going to rent scooters in order to travel at our own pace and have the freedom to chose exactly what areas of the National Park we wanted to explore. Once we arrived at the train station in Hualien City we were approached by the owner of a scooter rental shop and he quickly escorted us to his nearby shop. It cost $500 NTD (or $22 CAD) to rent them for the day and of course they came with helmets #safetyfirst

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If you don’t feel comfortable driving a scooter there are also buses that will take you there and you can learn more about how to catch it here under the <About the shuttle bus in Taroko> heading.

We were feeling adventurous that day so we found our way there using our good friend Google Maps, however my new favourite app Maps.me is also really good for directions and accuracy! Once you are out of the core city it is essentially a straight shot and the whole ride will take you approximately 40 minutes.

On the way to the park the views of the mountains were beautiful but once we reached an area just outside the park, the beauty we were immersed rose to a jaw dropping level.

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We proceeded to the Visitor Centre and got some helpful information from a very friendly park enthusiast. I recommend doing this just to take a break, go to the washroom, or buy a snack and some water.

We then took a left out of the Visitor Centre, went straight for 500 metres and eventually took a right following the signs for Taroko Gorge. We quickly noticed that everyone is required to wear helmets in the park due to the potential of rock slides, luckily we already had ours.

We road along the impressive Taroko Gorge until we arrived at the Swallow Grotto. The potholes found in the cliffs were especially impressive, not to mention the built in springs.

There is a trail you can walk that is about half a kilometre starting from the beginning of the Swallow Grotto, it’s called the Yanzikou Trail and it offers an up close and personal view of this impressive rock formation.

Since we rented scooters, we continued to ride along until we got to Cimu bridge where we stopped to take in the awe-inspiring architecture complimented by the surrounding astounding landscape.

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The rushing grey water that flows throughout these marble mountains is most likely this colour from the rocks and sediment below it, but there are places in the stream where marble rock is exposed and clear blue water is visible. This combination really is stunning in person and despite being completely natural, looks as if it was painted to be that way.

Next we found a waterfall that we got to observe from a nearby (somewhat nervewracking) suspension bridge. It was pretty wonderful to witness this raw and powerful display of nature.

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Below is a map highlighting the major scenic spots within the Taroko Gorge. You can find out more details on the Taroko National Park website including various tour suggestions.

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Personally, Taroko National Park served as a large reminder of how small we as humans really are. Everywhere you look at in this park, from any angle, you are surrounded by mountains and gorges up to 3,000 metres in elevation. The park is literal eye candy, a dazzling visual experience if you will. The greenery, the waterfalls, the shrines, and statues are all sensational and I guarantee you will say the word “WOW” at least five times during your time there. It is trips like these that emphasize how beautiful this world is and how important it is that we enjoy our world’s wonders in a respectful way.

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Typhoon Tyranny!

My Taiwanese experience got a little more authentic after this past Tuesday, September 27th as Typhoon Megi made landfall in Taiwan. And just like Miley Cyrus it came in like a wrecking ball!

Schools were closed, work was cancelled, and most businesses, except for the trusty and ever so populous 7-11’s, were closed.

Typhoon Megi was especially threatening to the country as the centre of the storm passed directly over Taiwan, moving from east to west and beginning in Hualien City.

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In Hualien it brought ashore winds equal to that of a Category 4 Hurricane.

As the winds and rains of Megi ravaged Taiwan, the effects of the storm were also greatly felt in the west of Taiwan. The island’s Central Weather Bureau showed steady winds of 100km/h in Taichung City with gusts of 198km/h on Tuesday afternoon.

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The storm even effected Eastern China as multiple mudslides occurred resulting in at least 30 people missing.

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More than 14,700 people were evacuated in Taiwan, while millions lost power and hundreds of thousands of homes were without water. Typhoon Megi killed four people and injured more than 523 in Taiwan in total.

Prime time typhoon season in Taiwan is July to September.However these massive storms are possible from June to October and supposedly are more rare but often more fierce in October.

Check out this video from CNN’s report on Typhoon Megi to get a visual representation of what this country is dealing with.

Luckily for myself I live in Taipei, the capital located in northern Taiwan. The effects of typhoons are not felt too strongly here however within six hours of Megi hitting Taiwan, 75 mm of rain was recorded.

The radius of this storm was large and it’s safe to say it effected Taipei in a greater way then the last two typhoons Meranti and Malakas, who’s force was felt off-shore of Taiwan.

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This was the third typhoon Taiwan has been hit with in the past 2 weeks. Oh and good news folks, my friends tell me theres rumblings of another typhoon for this coming week. Strap in real tight Taiwan, you’re in for another strong shower!

Reports on Typhoon Megi: 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2016/09/26/2003655949

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/26/asia/typhoon-megi-taiwan-weather/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/29/typhoon-megi-dozens-missing-after-landslide-hits-chinese-village

https://weather.com/storms/typhoon/news/typhoon-megi-forecast-taiwan-china

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37503174