There is a beautiful scenery inland on the Chinese island state of Taiwan, separated from the mainland. I went for a couple of hikes.
This article is part of a diary based travelogue from a six month journey in 1985 to several countries in East and South East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Friday 1.2.1985, Tienhsiang
Off I went, on a bus. The route went along the coast and was quite scenic. In Suao there wasn’t much to see and the bus was not continuing until later in the day. Therefore I stuck my thumb out and soon a guy stopped and took me for a ride to Taroko in a dare-devilish speed. This road runs in addition high up on the mountain-side offering a view down the steep, almost vertical side into the ocean. It was a really great trip.
The highlight was nonetheless my 19 km hike up the Taroko Gorge to Tienhsiang. Even though this trip was a bit too far for my feet, it was a fantastic experience: Steep mountain-sides and a twisting road over a river down below. Many had reportedly perished building this road.
Tienhsiang was a small place. I checked into the
- Catholic Youth Hostel. Map
The evening was calm and beautiful under the moon light and the shining stars. And I was relaxing on the terrace.
The hike up the Taroko Gorge took me less than four hours, if I remember right. But then I walked pretty fast, took few breaks and did not have much to carry. I had actually left my pack at the hostel in Taipei, and only brought my little shoulder bag, some toiletries and spare socks.
Saturday 2.2.1985, Taichung
I took the morning bus to Taichung (4 USD). And like the previous day I must use the adjective “fantastic”. Especially the climb up to Tayuling was excellent, a climb from 450 metres to 2500 metres in a 1.5 hour bus trip. And I must say that the view even beats Norwegian valleys and gorges.
Taichung was ordinarily interesting. I did not get a room at the YH but they were nice and drove me to a cheap hotel in town, the
- First Hotel, room for 2.5 USD.
Sunday 3.2.1985, Chiayi, Alishan
In the morning I jumped on a train to Chiayi (4 USD), taking 75 minutes. I was aiming at the interior again to a place called Alishan. It is supposed to have some great scenery.
On the bus to Alishan (3-4 USD, 2.5 hours) I met three Taiwanese students on holiday. Two of them, C and her friend I can’t remember the name of, joined me in a three mattress room.
That afternoon we walked around in the area and the landscape was truly beautiful, with mountains and pine forests.
Monday 4.2.1985, Alishan, Chiayi, Taipei
Early in the morning while it was still dark, we and hundreds of others went up to a place to see the sunrise. It was supposed to be extra-ordinarily beautiful here, but not today. And even less so with the crowds all around.
The same morning I took a bus down to Chiayi and train (7.5 USD) to Taipei. I checked into the Taipei Hostel again.
Tuesday 5.2.1985, Taipei
I tried to find a flight ticket to Hong Kong, but everything was terribly expensive. A Brit on the hostel offered me his ticket for 55 USD. It was around half of the best offers I had received earlier. The only problem with the deal was that I had to travel in his name.
My letter home telling the story of my “tour de Taiwan” is posted under my next entry in this series, that of Hong Kong.
The introduction to this journey to East and South East Asia.
Previous chapter: Taiwan: A snake market, immense treasures and an oversized hotel in the capital of Taipei.
Next chapter: Hong Kong, a wonderful city state at a time it was still a Crown colony.