Hualien 花蓮縣 (Taiwan 2013)

Hualien-Taiwan-2

This time, my story starts at 花蓮縣 Hualien train station. It’s raining heavily. During the train ride, we passed many beautiful mountains, the ocean and rice paddies. We were picked up by Kevin and his girlfriend, in his blue Volkswagen TW3 bus. They are so nice!

Echo-villa-Hualien-kloppenhdard-nathan-vennekens

B&B Echo Villa

When we arrived at B&B Echo Villa, we changed our booking to the most expensive room (TW$4700) with a ‘glass house’ on the second floor. The views are stunning. The nicely designed villa is located in a small neighbourhood at the foot of a mountain. Everything is green, with tropical flowers and beautiful butterflies. Around Echo villa, there is a nice garden with a fish pond. We didn’t see any monkeys, but we heard them. And…you’d better not go too far into the woods next to Echo Villa, because there are hunting traps set by aboriginals!

B&B-Echo-Villa-Hualien-2013-Kloppendhard-Nathan-Vennekens

Mosquitos & Review B&B: Echo Villa

Unfortunately, this tropical beauty also inhabits many mosquitos that just love to eat you alive. Protection is needed day and night. During the night, an orchestra of animal sounds come to life. Breakfast is made by Kevin’s mom and is served in our room. She made fish cookies and a spring roll. And we always had fresh fruit. The bathrooms are simple and include a small bath. Taking a shower can be a bit difficult. I rate Echo Villa with an 8 out of 10.

East Coast Hualien, Taiwan

East Coast Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park - 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park – 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park - 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park – 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park - 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko National Park – 太魯閣國家公園

Taroko and East Coast

Kevin recommends us, if we need a taxi, to call a taxi company they made a price deal with. Because we do not speak Chinese, we would ask a cashier of a 7eleven or Family Mart to call a taxi for us. Kevin also arranged a day trip with a guide. We wanted to avoid  touristic places and tourists (mostly Chinese tour buses) as much as possible, and the guide did not join us in the walks. It’s more expensive when the guide walks with you. We paid TW$ 2.500,- for a day. We visited Taroko park (太鲁阁国家公园) and the beautiful east coast. You van also do survival tours, rafting and visit hotsprings. It’s a pity we didn’t have enough time to do all of these things.

View from Zuocang Trail Hualien, Taiwan

View from Zuocang Trail Hualien, Taiwan

Zuocang Trail

There is a mountain walk (Zuocang Trail) just around the corner of Echo Villa. It is a good walking path to the top of a mountain. Unfortunately, it was our last day in Hualien and we did not have enough time to walk the entire trail. Along the way there are some nice views on Hualien. I suggest to do this walk in the early morning before the heat of the sun reaches its peak.

East Coast Hualien, Taiwan

East Coast Hualien, Taiwan

Stone beach

Just outside of Hualien, there is a stone beach and a military airport. They sure like to show off their military muscles. Every morning, we could hear and see the F16 planes fly by. The beach is not the most beautiful we had seen, but it’s a nice place for a walk, a talk and throwing some rocks into the sea.

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Nightmarket Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien, Taiwan

Night market Hualien

In the centre of Hualien, we had a Starbucks and a coffee place called 85 Degrees. There are many local stores and food stalls, where we bought the tastiest, juiciest mango ever. The bigger-sized mango are even sweeter than the smaller ones. The night market is worth visiting. We almost tried everything, such as soft shell crab, barbecue corn, fresh smoothie, stuffed octopus, grilled oysters, barbecued shrimps and noodle soup (the noodle soup was the only thing we didn’t like; the rest was amazing).

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Hualien South-East coast

Taiwanees Singer at Starbucks Hualien

Taiwanese Singer at Starbucks Hualien (left)

Taiwanees Singer at Starbucks Hualien

Flyer of Taiwanese Singer at Starbucks Hualien

Areca nut (Betel nut)

Areca nut (Betel nut). Very unhealthy and untasty.

South-East coast Hualien

We also made a trip around the South-East coast of Hualien. This is a more touristic part with beaches, caves and temple-like buildings. Loads of Chinese tourists take this route in big touring cars. They stop, take some pictures and quickly drive to the next sightseeing spot. It’s easy to avoid the tourist crowds; just walk 200 meters further, and no one is to be seen, and it’s even more beautiful there.

Harbour restaurant close to Hualien

Harbour restaurant near Hualien (vegetables)

Swordfish sashimi

Harbour restaurant near Hualien (Sword fish sashimi)

Harbour restaurant close to Hualien

Harbour restaurant near Hualien (interior)

Harbour restaurant close to Hualien

Harbour restaurant near Hualien (catch of the day)

Harbour restaurant close to Hualien

Harbour restaurant close to Hualien (exterior)

Delicious Sword fish sashimi – East Coast

The best part of this trip was lunch. Our taxi driver stopped at a small harbour. He wanted to bring us to a big touristic restaurant first. But then we saw a small canteen-like restaurant. My wife and I asked the driver to stop here. He did not know this place, so he was not sure about its quality (and its looks). We chose our menu by pointing to dishes on other people’s tables, although we did not know what the were ordering. Once we tasted the incredibly fresh swordfish sashimi, we knew this was a good choice. I was all delicious!

Restaurant-Chi-yeh-cypress-museum-hualien-taiwan-Kloppendhard-Nathan-Vennekens

Restaurant review: Chi-Yeh Cypress Museum (Chinese / Vegetarian)

We went to two vegetarian restaurants in Hualien. The first one is a huge wooden place where we had to rush a bit, because it was almost closing time (21:00 hours). Many restaurants close around this time, even in Taipei. I guess this is because many Taiwanese people get up early. We quickly ordered two set menus and payed immediately. The food was served very quickly, and we loved the food. A few minutes past 21:00, a waiter came to our table to tell us they were closing. A bit strange, but we were finished already and left the empty restaurant. I rate it with an 8 out of 10.

Restaurant-greenland-hualien-taiwan-Kloppendhard-Nathan-Vennekens

Restaurant review: Green land

The second vegetarian restaurant Green Land, was less fancy. The interior was (too) simple, the dishes (too) basic and the service not very friendly (they speak no English at all). The set menu was served on plastic plates. The food is comparable with a quick and simple home-made dish. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. I rate it with a 5.5 out of 10.

restaurant-wang's-tea-lounge-hualien-taipei-2013-kloppendhard-nathan-vennekens

Restaurant review: Wang’s Tea lounge

Just before we took our train to Taitung, we had lunch at Wang’s Tea lounge, a place near Hualien train station. We had delicious bubble tea, fried tofu and (so cute!) small ‘sponge’ cakes. The restaurant is pretty big with two floors. The staff does not speak English, but they have an English menu and are very willing to help. The decoration is modern and warm (teak wood). I rate this place with a 7 out of 10.

Wang's tea lounge Hualien

Wang’s tea lounge Hualien

Wang's tea lounge Hualien

Wang’s tea lounge Hualien

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