When tourists visit Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast, they typically only visit Taroko National Park, which is the region’s signature attraction. However, Hualien has a lot more to offer. With mountains, lakes, and wetlands, Hualien has a diverse ecosystem to cater to a diverse range of activities. We spent a day and a half exploring what Hualien had to offer.
We started our third day in Taiwan with breakfast at the Promiseland Resort’s Lira Restaurant, where we had dinner the previous night. It was suppose to be Western style, but it was mostly a mashup of Taiwanese and American food. Nate woke up sick; I think the combination of no sleep, new microbes, and jetlag caught up with him. Luckily the schedule on day three of the road trip wasn’t too punishing.
Check-out was not until 11 AM, so we explored more of what the resort had to offer. Baby T enjoyed the boat ride the our first night at Promiseland Resort, so I took him on a second boat ride in the morning, this time with my mom and her cousins.
After that, I took Baby T to a short dip in the pool with the floatie my mom bought him. I’m not sure who had more fun, Baby T splashing around in the water or his great-grandma and great aunts and uncles watching on the sidelines. The lifeguard cut our pool time short and kicked me out; I violated one the main rules of Taiwanese pool etiquette –you must wear a swim cap at public pools (I swear I didn’t know-none of my Taiwanese realtives bothered to tell me what the signs said).
Li Chuan Aquafarm
For lunch we went to Li Chuan Aquafarm. It appeared to be part research center, fish farm, and restaurant. The aqua farm’s best known for its golden clam, which is highly prized for its nutritional value and promotes liver health. Visitors can dip their feet in the pond and pick clams for a fee.
Our next stop was the Jhih Ka Syuan Forest Park in the city of Hualien. The park consisted of a water park (opened in the summer), walking trails, playgrounds, public art and gardens. It was pretty but the stop felt really random. It’s one thing if the park was down the street from my house, it’s another thing to include it onto the itinerary when a good chunk of the group flew 20+ hours to be there. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful park and the weather was perfect for a stroll. I was ecstatic that Baby T napped for 30 minutes in his stroller while we walked.
Later I learned that the strong earthquake a month prior damaged most of the sties on the original itinerary. With hotel and restaurant reservations in place, we couldn’t deviate too much from the travel plans so random stops were added to fill the day. Which explains why our next stop was a shopping center before heading to KKS Hotel (where our crib request was finally honored!).
The next morning we headed to Liyu Lake, located in the East Rift Valley Scenic Area. Set in the mountains, it’s Taiwan’s largest inland lake. The place was empty; my group was the only ones there. The lake had a small sculpture park and a trail up to a seminary fantastic views (Nate and I didn’t make it up there, but my sister and her boyfriend did). We mainly walked around the edge of the lake pushing Baby T in his stroller, which thankfully he managed to squeeze in a thirty minute map. Some of my other family members rented bicycles. We saw lot of different types of boats, but no one could find any staff to rent them.
After eating lunch, we headed to the Matai’an (or Mataian) Wetlands. Again, we were the only tour group there. The Amis, one of sixteen recoginized indigenous tribes, called the area home where they developed their traditional “Palakaw” fishing method. The wetlands’ also home to a variety of birds and other wildlife. We walked along the wetlands on wooden boardwalk, taking in views of the surrounding mountains. If visiting, beware of mosquitos. While there’s an abundance of mosquitos throughout the island, the ones at Matai’an seemed extra vicious.
After our tour of the wetlands, we finished our day in Taitung, the county directly south of Hualien.
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