Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taroko Gorge by Taxi

Price Summary (in New Taiwanese Dollars)
Train Ticket from Taipei to Xincheng per person = 311 or 403 (one way); 622 to 806 (round trip)
(price depends on express or ordinary train)
Taxi Rental (4 hours round trip to Xincheng Station) = 2500 
Entrance to Taroko Gorge.
When I asked my Taiwanese friends (and others who have been to Taiwan) for recommendations about the country, most mentioned Taroko Gorge. For someone who likes hiking, it was a must. Mountainous terrain with stunning scenery--really, how could I resist?
One of the bridges in the park.
View of one of the ravines.
There are many places on the Internet where you can find different attack plans for the Gorge. Some people stay over in Hualien city either before or after whereas others commute from Taipei or other areas of Taiwan. Here's one more post among the many about what we did (March 20, 2017).

As my mum and I had only a couple of days together in Taiwan before coming back to Korea, and I knew she would have more luggage, I didn't want to find another place to stay in Hualien, despite the recommendations to try out the nightmarket and other sites within the city. That being said, we opted to do a round trip from Taipei but instead of booking a company tour, we did it on our own. I think you can technically buy train tickets the day of, but one of my new friends helped me reserve seats a couple nights before just in case they sold out. We booked our train tickets to Xincheng (this stop is closer to Taroko Gorge than Hualien).

Because I wanted to make sure we got the most of our day, we were on the earliest train (7:08) and we arrived at the Taroko around 10 in the morning.

Eternal Spring Shine from a distance.
The trails jut off at different points along the road. For some trails, you need to reserve a permit in advance whereas others are come as you please (see http://old.taroko.gov.tw/English/ for more details). The Internet revealed that the main methods of maneuvering through the park are by using the bus, if you are okay with potentially long wait times; scooter, if you have a license to rent one; on foot, if you don't plan on going very far very quickly; taxi rental, if you have the money.

My mum and I were originally thinking of taking the bus. One of my friends did it a couple weeks ago and said it wasn't too bad and that they still were able to see a lot of the park. When we went, the forecast predicted thundershowers and as we weren't planning on spending a lot of money on other parts of our trip, we decided to splurge and use a taxi for the day. The taxis are waiting right at the station and the first we approached had a laminated sign with English. Listed were different day-trip options along with prices for one-way vs a round trip. My mum and I chose the 4 hour round trip.
Don't forget a hard hat!
Our driver didn't speak any English, but we managed to communicate. We drove to different spots and he would motion to our cameras for a photo op, or to a trail for us to explore. At certain points, we did out-and-back trails while at a couple other points, he met us at the end. My mum and I were quickly confused by the curving nature of the roads. Without the taxi driver, we doubt we would have seen as much as we did. Plus, four hours was a good amount of time. We probably could have pushed ourselves to do more, but both of us were tired and content at the end. No regrets.
When we rounded a corner and gasped in surprise, our taxi driver pulled over and told us he'd meet us up ahead.
We were lucky, too, in that the rain was at our backs and as we went deeper into the park, we could see it coming, but it didn't catch us until we were on the way back to the station. I had originally reserved our return tickets for the evening, but luckily there was space on an earlier train and we were heading back to Taipei just after 15:00. We arrived back in the city around 17:30 and enjoyed an easy dinner at one of the nightmarkets. All in all, a day well spent.
The storm, coming over the mountains.

And now you're in the know.

Love and Hugs.

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