Taroko National Park: Day 2

Last week I brought you the first installment of my weekend away in Taroko National Park where you saw the beginning of my adventure. Here I bring you part 2 and the rest of my journey into this amazing National Park in Taiwan. 
Liufang Bridge in Taroko National Park

One More Day

Since Auntie had only rented us the scooters for 1 day we woke up early and went to negotiate another day’s worth of scootering. As we arrived there were already a group of people from mainland China waiting to rent scooters.

“We can’t rent scooters to you. You can rent bicycles if you want,” Auntie said to the point and matter of factly as they walked away in defeat. She then turned to us and smiled, “Renting for another day?”

We weren’t sure what to make of the situation seeing how the people from mainland China probably had better experience with scooters than we had. We just chalked it up to cultural differences, re-rented our scooters, and went on our way.

XinCheng

Seeing how we had a few minutes to kill while we waited for our friend to get ready and the weather was incredible (it was the first time I saw the sun in 3 weeks) we decided to tour around the small town of XinCheng.

The beach was easily accessible from our hostel, about a three-minute scooter ride. Although, we didn’t get on the beach we enjoyed the views from our scooters. Driving through the town, nestled between the mountains of Taroko and the Pacific Ocean, with large green fields and palm trees passing us by, we felt a serenity not found in many other places.

A Change of Weather

When we arrived back to the hostel and got ready to go, the weather was already making a turn for the worse. Clouds began rolling over the mountains and the beginning of a storm was apparent. Midway to our destination the rain began coming down hard. We made a stop under the safety of a gas station and put on the rain ponchos that were gifted to us the day before.

Luckily, by the time we reached Shakadang Trail the rain began to let up. The storm had passed as quickly as it arrived. We left our warmer clothes in the scooters and made for the trail.

Shakadang Trail

The mild trek of Shakadang Trail led us along the Shakadang River where water from the mountains crashed and flowed along the enormous rocks that had fallen from the surrounding cliffs ages ago. The end of the “official” trails stops at a few wooden shops selling snacks and a few trinkets from the indigenous tribes of Taroko.

Past these shops is an open gate leading to the rocky banks of the river. People can freely hop along the rocks and sand of the river since there are no signs saying otherwise. Being adventurous, my friends and I decided to go further down the river, past the crowds. There is a certain point of the river where tourists won’t go any further – we obviously went past that point.

After scaling a few boulders and hopping over gaps of the river, we arrived at an alcove with sky-blue water deep enough to jump in, a small, serene waterfall, birds chirping, and sun shining down, warming the massive boulders we would eventually lay on.

Change of Plans

Our original plan was to go into the hot springs (which are also technically closed to the public, but everyone goes in anyway); however, after seeing the scenery around us we couldn’t help making this our swimming spot. It didn’t matter that the water was nipple-hardening cold, it was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up.

Additionally, we found an excellent place to jump off the rocks into about 8-feet of water. One of the best parts about diving into that icy cold water was scrambling from the water and laying out on the sunbaked stones.

TianXiang

After about two hours of swimming, sunbathing, and exploring we were ready to get food. We walked back across the trail, enjoying the return journey just as much as the arrival. We got to our scooters and rode to a beef noodle restaurant that also functioned as an inn praying that it would be open.

It is located past Tianxiang, the main stop off area for tourists and buses in the park. We had eaten at Tianxiang before and were not overly impressed, we wanted to try something new today.

By this time the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping. Riding in shorts and a long sleeve shirt wasn’t going to cut it anymore. We got to the beef noodle restaurant and, like most places on Sundays after 4pm in Taiwan, it was closed.  We even asked the people walking around to make sure, but yes, it was definitely closed. After changing into warmer

We even asked the people walking around to make sure, but yes, it was definitely closed. After changing into warmer clothes, we swallowed our pride and went to Tianxiang for dinner.

There are two restaurants next door to each other in Tianxiang and we had eaten at the bigger one yesterday. We decided to try the smaller restaurant and were far more pleased with the quality of food.

When all was said and done we left the restaurant around 7pm and rode back down the in pitch darkness, enjoying the clear night sky and fresh mountain air. Although we could not see any of the Gorge in the darkness, with the help of the rushing water and echoes of our scooters on the rocks, our minds painted pictures of the remarkable wonder that is Taroko National Park.

Have you ever visited Taroko National Park? Do you have any fun or adventurous stories that you would like to tell? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below. 

pic_for_TVadim Rubin is an ethnic Belarussian learning to speak Mandarin Chinese. He is a coach, teacher, linguist, athlete, and an aspiring world traveler. As an avid volleyball player and coach, he spends a majority of his time on the court with sweaty volleyball junkies. Off the court he enjoys to travel, write, and teach world languages. In the summer of 2012 he traveled to Taiwan to study Chinese and wrote about his adventures in his blog: 三個月在臺灣 My Three months in Taiwan . He documented his adventures in Taiwan and China on his blog  Where’s Your Inner Child? He is now back in Taiwan teaching English, traveling, and discovering what life has to offer. – See more at: Vadim Rubin, Author at Baltimore Post-Examiner

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