Thursday, March 28, 2013

Post trip Taiwan 2013 - Hualien

Best trip to Taiwan ever!

It seems like I make a trip to Taiwan every 2-3 years. SO had to clear some vacation days and we had friends currently staying in Taipei, so we decided to head off to Taiwan in March 2013. The trip before that was in May 2010, and the trip before that was 2009.

This time round, SO wanted to check out Taroko Gorge in Hualien after hearing travel stories from his colleague and I wanted to check out Yilan for its famous spring onions. Naturally, we allocated some time in Taipei to catch up with friends and to shop and eat.

The weather forecast predicted Hualien/Yilan/Taipei to be cold and rainy, so I packed rainproof winter gear for all of us. However, when I reached Taiwan, apparently they were enjoying a spurt of good weather and it wasn't until at the tail end of our trip in Taipei that the winter gear needed to be taken out. And by good weather, I mean sunny skies, slight breeze, temperatures around 25 deg C. Taxi drivers in Hualien & Yilan were wearing short-sleeved T-shirts!

Arguably the most famous attraction in Hualien is Taroko Gorge. Other attractions include Chixingtan (direct translation would be "Seven Star Beach) and Zi Qiang night market.

Taroko Gorge. Booked a half day tour from Silks Palace Taroko where we were staying. 

To entertain our toddler, we also brought her to the Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch while staying in Hualien. It was more enjoyable than we thought and we returned much later to our accommodation than expected. We rented bicycles (one with a toddler seat) and cycled around the ranch. DD loved feeding the animals and seeing a cow in real life. The milk ice-cream sold by the ranch helped too!

Cycling in Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch

For more details on travelling with a toddler in Hualien, check out my tripadvisor forum post.

Memorable food in Hualien includes Zi Qiang night market and Gong Zhen Bao.

Zi Qing night market: 第一家烤肉串. Meat and veggie skewers

 BBQ corn (almost at the end of the market, past the famous fruit drinks stall)

  Pick the doneness of your corn (hard, QQ, soft etc)

Weighing the corn, specifying spice level and payment

Why are there mahjong tiles?

It's your number to collect your food!

Gong Zhen Bao

The one on the stick is 蒸饺 steamed dumplings (similar to northern Chinese ‘shui jiao’, best eaten w vinegar & gingerand 小笼包 xiao long bao (size/look more like small char xiao bao). 

The owners of the accommodation we were staying at in Hualien city told us that locals head to the restaurant next to Gong Zhen Bao in a pinch as the queues for Gong Zhen Bao can get quite long.

We wanted to swing by Gong Zhen Bao on the way to the train station but didn't have time. Aw shucks!

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