Longterm plans were to travel to Taiwan and stay for 3 months. My intentions were to check out different cities with the view of staying longterm. Taipei, the capital in the north of the island, was not for me as I like smaller cities and a slower pace of life. The north was too cold and damp, even in spring, though I suspect the summers would be stifling in this densely populated city. So having moved south to escape the misery of the temperature, I arrived in Tianan. It became apparent, this previous capital city was not going to be much better, though on days it was warmer, though even when the sun shone, a rarity due to the pollution filled sky, this also was a grey, gloomy, ugly city.
Indigenous: what does it mean on an island full of Chinese? Were you even aware of indigenous people in Taiwan? I wasn’t. Had I done any research I probably would have, but rarely do I before visiting a new place. I like to arrive with no prejudgements and make my own discoveries.
Wanting to get out of the heavy rain this evening, as I forgot my trusted umbrella (usually used for sun protection), I walked into a vegan restaurant called Farmers’ Kitchen in Hualein. Finally I hoped I would be able to find some food, not pork and without MSG or sugar which coats almost every dish in Taiwan; not good news if you’re diabetic or have a high blood pressure or like me just don’t like extremely salty sweet things.
Taroko National Park near Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan is definitely worth a visit. I joined a group organised by Hualien Wow Hostel (press here for their details) and spent a day exploring the marble walled gorge with the Liwu River carving it’s way through.
Inside the gorge Eternal Spring Shrine Park was built to honour the hundreds of workmen who died building Highway 8 across the country from east the west. It also faces the East Gate archway, the entrance to the highway. During typhoon season water would be gushing down the hills and a fast rapid flowing river with dangerous currents shifting boulders along the way. You can make out on the hills how the water has eroded it’s pathways over thousands of years.