To our relief, after two days of little sleep Baby T seemed like his normal self on his second day in Taiwan. We started our second day in Taiwan with breakfast at the hotel before we boarded the tour bus. We headed south towards Hualien County, home to Taroko National Park.
Su Hua Highway
From the hotel, we traveled down the treacherous Su Hua Highway, one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Our bus driver was a beast. He maneuvered the bus through steep, narrow, winding roads the were carved up against scenic cliffs. In fact, most tourists taking bus tours traveling along Taiwan’s east coast opt to take the train on this section of their trip.
We were treated with gorgeous views after gorgeous views. At one point Nate asked me why Americans don’t know about Taiwan, and why it’s not on everyone’s bucket list to visit (I feel the same way, but I’m definitely biased). It’s not hard to believe why the first Europeans to see the island named it Formosa, which means “beautiful” in Portuguese.
For lunch we stopped by a small, hole in the wall restaurant that caters to tour groups. The food was exotic even for my mom. Every time I asked her what something was she ended up asking another relative. One of the dishes looked like breaded calamari, and my mom seemed to think that’s what it was even though the shape was little different. So, my sister, Nate, and I tried some. It tasted a lot like calamari, but the texture was just a little different. Eventually one of my cousins came by and told us it was sunfish prostate. All of our appetites immediately disappeared.
Taroko National Park
We made our way to Taroko National Park. Established in 1986, it’s the main attraction in Hualien, and considered the crown jewel of Taiwan. With it’s marble canyons and gorges set against lush vegetation, I can’t really think of another place in the world like it. Most of our time in the park was spent on the bus. There weren’t too may places that would accommodate a parked bus, and a good chunk of our crew was in no shape for a lot of hiking.
We stopped at the tiny village of Tianxiang, locate inside the park. We found our way to Xiangede Temple trail, which led to a Buddhist complex. I was impressed by how big of an undertaking to build it without road access on the side of a cliff (the pedestrian bridge wasn’t built until 2003). It didn’t have the most breathtaking views in the park, but we were glad to finally get off the bus. Along the trail was the Tianfeng Pagoda. The stairs were quite steep and the railing was kid-height, which made it a little scarier when wearing a baby.
Eternal Spring Shrine
After the hike, we hopped back on the bus. We had a short twenty minute break at the Eternal Spring Shrine for a photo opt. The shrine was built to honor the 212 workers who died constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway. It’s one of the most scenic spots in Taroko that you can hike to, but it was not on our itinerary. Baby T decided to have a major blowout so we spent the whole time changing his diaper and locating an extra outfit. My sister and her boyfriend got some pictures for us though.
Back on the bus, we headed to our last stop of the day, the Promiseland Resort and Lagoon. My mom was really excited about staying here, since one of my cousin got a fantastic rate through the travel agency she worked at. To my mom, this was a 5 star resort (she and my dad are loyal to Super 8 hotels. In fact, I can’t remember a trip where we didn’t stay in one).
We arrived at the resort around 4 PM, just enough time to explore the grounds before dinner. A group of us rode on a boat through the lagoon. My sister and my cousins hung out after dinner, while Nate and I put Baby T to bed. To our relief, he fell asleep like he normally does at home and only woke up once in the middle of the night an played for an hour before falling back asleep. He beat jetlag by the end of second night in Taiwan.
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