Carp Lake / Liyu Lake (鯉魚潭)
Hualien / Hualian (花蓮) is the next county we headed for after we left Taipei. I was really excited about Hualien as my research of Taipei indicated that Hualien has one of the most number of popular street snacks in Taiwan, which I will be blogging about in the next post 😉
After putting down our bags in our hostel, we headed back to the train station to catch a public bus to Carp Lake - took us about 50 minutes to get there. Carp lake has an area of approximately 104 hectares, making it the largest inland freshwater lake in Hualien.
Saw an uncle fishing, didn't manage to see him catch any fish though...
From what I've researched, Carp Lake used to have abundant carps and is a popular attraction for tourists. However, due to the development of out-ring highways, the number of tourists has declined over the years which is a real pity. When we were there, the place was pretty quiet - we spotted only a few groups of school children on excursions and some locals exercising / fishing.
I wasn't really interested in rowing a boat out to the middle of the lake as it was scorching hot, so we rented motorised bicycles (yes I was really lazy that day...) and we cycled around the lake.
View of Carp Lake from a pavilion
A group of cyclists cycling through Carp Lake.
On the other side of the street are some restaurants and snack stores - we only got a drink as we wanted to head back to the city center for dinner.
Another uncle fishing - wonder what's his catch?
Carp Lake / Liyu Lake (鯉魚潭)
|Address:||No.100, Huantan N. Rd., Chinan Village, Shoufeng Township, Hualien County|
|Getting there and back:|| |
Take Bus 1139 from Hualien Bus Station (花蓮車站) (just beside the train station) and alight at Carp Lake (鯉魚潭) in Chi Nan (池南) - the bus ride is about 50 minutes. The bus tickets can be purchased at the bus station at NT$62 per pax.
The bus timings can be found here, or you can click the thumbnails below. Do check with the bus driver before alighting on where to board the bus heading back to Hualien.
1) Walk or cycle around the lake - the trail is about 4km long, and will take about 1 hour on foot.
2) Take a boat ride - most boats require you to peddle to navigate around the lake.
3) Try out the Live Jumping Prawns (活跳虾) - they are mini live shrimps dipped in a spicy sauce - and yes, they are still jumping while you put them in your mouth!
Road towards Taroko National Park / Taroko Gorge (太魯閣國家公園)
Taroko National Park is also another must-visit destination for both local and foreign tourists whilst in Hualien. As there were 2 other tourists (coincidentally Singaporeans as well!) heading there as well, the hostel got one of their friends to be our driver for the day. There are many sight-seeing spots in the national park (all at significant distance apart from one another) and with the very limited public transport, it's probably more advisable to book a taxi for the whole day or book with the tour agency.
Left: Marble rock painted with a sign indicating the entrance to Taroko National Park
Right: A stone sculpture of a Truku granny
Taroko means "magnificent and beautiful" in the Truku language of the Truku indigenous tribe. The Truku tribe was recognized officially in 2004. According to our tour guide (also our driver), the tribe originally resides in this region, and they will hunt for food in these mountainous areas. However, due to conflict with the Japanese, the tribe was forcefully expedited out of the area. With the advancement of technology and the development of the park, most of the Truku tribe descendants did not move back to this area after the conflict, though most are still staying in the Hualien county.
We also learned that the Truku tribe has a cultural tradition of facial tattooing. Women from the Truku tribe underwent a more complex procedure of tattooing than men - they would have one or more lines tattooed on the forehead and a continuous patterned arc tattooed around the mouth and across both cheeks. (You can see the tattooed lines across the forehead on the Truku granny sculpture.) It was an important practice as it was a symbol of entry into adulthood and eligibility for marriage.
And we reached the visitor center!
Taroko National Park was established on 28 November 1986, a move made by the government to protect the natural scenery of such parks. It is essential to visit the visitor center so as to know what trails are open on that day. We went to the National Park only a few days after Typhoon Soala and the damage by the typhoon was so severe that most of the trails were closed, much to our disappointment.
There are 4 types of trails - and each type consists of several trails. Most people will head for the Scenic Trails and Hiking Trails as they are pretty easy to walk and do not require entry permits. It was a real pity that we didn't manage to visit most of the trails, but I guess this gives me another reason to go back to Taiwan again 😉
Eternal Spring (Changchun) Shrine Trail (長春祠步道 )
One of the only trails opened when we were there was the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail. From the start of the trail we can see a shrine and a waterfall far ahead. The waterfall flow was pretty heavy as the typhoon just passed by not too long ago. The shrine was built in memory of the 212 veterans who died while constructing a highway nearby.
Left: Eternal Spring (Changchun) Bridge
Right: A stone sculpture of a Truku grandpa
Our driver drove us up to a resting area - it was a really quiet place, perfect for picnics. There are also some souvenir shops to purchase local crafts and goods.
Ci Mu Bridge (The Bridge of the Kind Mother) (慈母橋)
This is probably one of the highlights in Taroko National Park. From this area one can see the beautiful marble rocks below. The water wasn't clear as it was muddy water washed down from the mountains due to the typhoon. Nevertheless, the marble rocks are an amazing sight.
Left: Beautiful marble rocks contrasting with the rapid muddy waters
Right: A suspension footbridge - the bridge was pretty narrow but very stable, not shaky at all
We were extremely disappointed that most of the trails were closed during our trip. I just checked the website recently and found that most trails are opened again, so I am really hoping we can go there again soon.
Qi Xing Lake (七星潭)
As we ended really early in Taroko National Park, our driver brought us to Qi Xing Lake, a saltwater lake with an elegant arch shape, hence also giving it the name Yue Ya Wan (月牙灣). Though it was scorching hot, there were still many people gathered near the waters - probably going for a dip!
Goat Milk Cafe
There is also a cafe nearby that our guide brought us to. What's interesting is that the cafe uses goat milk in almost all of its food and drinks - just think of it as they replaced the usual cow's milk with goat milk - there's coffee, tea, mains, desserts... all using goat milk! I am never fond of milk, so this wasn't very appealing to me, but worth a try I guess!
Last shot of the beach before we head back for a night of food!
1) We booked the tour with our hostel at about NT$900 per person. It included a guide who drove us (together with 2 other tourists) to and fro from the National Park (and other attractions, depending on whether time permits) in a SUV. It does not include food and drinks (and you will have to pay for the guide's lunch as well, which is pretty common practice). The good thing is that the timing is very flexible, you can spend as much time as you want in each destination as there's no strict schedule to follow. The downside is that the price is a little steep, but given the limited public transport available, I will advise to still go for the car as it's a lot more convenient and comfortable. If you want to book a car with a driver for the whole day, it will cost about NT$3,000 (if I didn't remember wrongly) for up to 4 people.
2) If you're interested in going there on your own via public transport, check out the official website here (English) and here (Chinese). However, do check with the transport company as I'm not sure how updated is the website.
3) Check here on whether the trails are opened. Alternatively, check with the reception at the Taroko Visitor Centre.
4) Do bring along some snacks and lots of water for the trip as there are very few restaurants and shops. And most of the time, the food and drinks sold by these restaurants and shops are a little more expensive than other places. I will also recommend wearing proper sports shoes so it's more comfortable.
We actually booked a tour to see dolphins the next day, but as we didn't see a single dolphin at all during the whole 2 hour boat ride, I'm not going to blog about it. 🙁 Well, the next travel post will most probably make you all hungry, it's gonna be about food - my favourite part of the trip 😉 For the rest of the posts on Taiwan, see our Taiwan travel itinerary here!