Taroko National Park
Old Jhuilu road trail
My friend Su from Tainan picked me up at my hostel and we took a train to Hualien. There was a long queue at the ticker booth as it is weekend and we got the 8:40pm train, we were told all seats were taken and we paid for no seats tickets. The train was half empty when we got on and we sat and will give our seats if someone comes up with a ticket, but all the while, a few stops here and there no one took our seats so we actually got up to Hualien seated. We stopped at 7 eleven for snacks and made our way to Colorful Taiwan, a nice hostel but a bit expensive, around 570 Taiwan $ a person. The owners are super friendly though. Only one other person in our room an American dude who does not seem to want to talk to us, that's fine.
The next day we took a bus to Tienshang, first we had a great noodle breakfast at an eatery nearby and one of the owners drove us to her office in town to print our hiking permit for Old Jhuilu road trail. The bus ride was about
Taroko Natl Park
2 hours. The road scenery was amazing, deep gorges with a river running down below,lush green vegetations, a bit cloudy but its alright. Last stop was ours and we walked uphill to the Catholic church hostel. A man was waiting there for us, he runs the place with his wife, nice couple especially the woman, she does not speak English but she is Aborigines and we entertained ourselves by finding out whether some terms in their language are similar to Filipino, and surprisingly enough there are a number of them. The aborigines of Taiwan are somewhat similar to the Malay/Indonesians so their language is a variation of. Our room was 800 Taiwan $ a night we split the cost, there is no bed only a thin mattress and a couple of thick duvets(comforters) like Japanese style, oh it's so comfortable i love it, plain and simple, no furnitures just mattresses.We cooked our own dinner as we bought some stuff from Hualien, they provided us with cooking utensils and a stove, there were 2 other guests in the hostel, 2 Malayasian girls who shared their desserts with us, We were tired so we went to bed early, I slept very well
Taroko Natl Park
that night. Oh and we also visited the police station to register our trek tomorrow so we actually need 2 sets of permit, from the park via online and with the local police.
Sun was shining the next day we got a simple breakfast and we got a ride with the owner of the hostel to the starting point of the trek at Cihmu bridge, we dropped off our permit at the letter box at the entrance and started on our way. There is a nice swimming hole 2 minutes into the trail alas we are not sweaty yet so we just took fotos and went on, the trail gradually went up to the mountains and for a time we were inside the forest, trail is a bit slippy from dead leaves on the trail, Along the way we met a group of 7 people ahead of us but we passed them as they were slow. The trail keeps going up and we stopped a few times to catch our breath, at one point we stopped for snack at an old police station/checkpoint. Nothing there, just a clearing with some rocks to sit on, as we had our sandwich,
the rest of the trekkers we passed earlier caught up on us, we did see any other so we are the only hikers today, they limit it to I think 48 hikers a day during low season and up to 72 during the high season due to the nature of the trail, I did not encounter any dangerous trail just yet but soon we realized why they limit the number of hikers. On the last 3 kms of the 10.8 km trail, we started to ascend and then we left the forest and out into the side of this cliff, the width of the trail is no more than a foot and a half in places and they have ropes to grab on to as the other side is a sheer cliff, we can see the road down below, I got a bit scared any missteps and I fall to my death, the chance of becoming a new landmark in this park is high, you slip and you're gone. Su all the while was making a video of it all, This by far was the scariest hike for me, good thing it wasn't windy or rainy as it would make
it more treacherous.
That bit was only about a km long and then we got inside the forest again until we hit the end point, we crossed a couple of hanging bridges, the last one being at the last stop at Swallow grotto, there we a number of tourists looking at us from the road, we soon realized they are not allowed to enter past the viewpoint, only us trekkers. They collected the other half of the permit from us. One gringo tried to jump the fence to get down to the hanging bridge but was stopped, he complained in an annoying fashion, very rude to the attendant that I want to kick him, when told he need a permit to get in he made faces. There was a big sign on the door about permits, he did not even bother to read. Anyway we had lunch at a restaurant a little further up the road, we had our own food but they did not mind, we played with their cute dogs and even fed them the small squids we bought for snacks from the supermarket, too salty for me. Then we decided to walk to the Tunnel of
nine turns, about 2 km away, it was crowded with tour buses. it was actually underwhelming, they gave you helmets for safety and then you walk only about 10 minutes then the trail is closed, apparently due to landslides, bummer. We have to wait there for an hour or so for the bus to get back to Tianshang, there were some rocks falling at the mouth of the tunnel of the main road, imagine when it's raining, must be quite prone to falling rocks.
We got back super tired and we wasted no time eating at the restaurants near the bus station in Tianshang. The lady owner of the hostel told us that just behind the house is a trail to get down to the river to see some odd marbled giant boulders so we went, it was almost dusk so we did not linger long. We went to bed early. After breakfast next morning we said our goodbyes to the nice lady hostel owner and we did a short trail just behind the house going uphill, the Tuoran Pavilion trail, there is a huge boulder where you can see the town below, we went through a bamboo forest,
Su taking fotos of our breakfast
very nice and there are remains of old aborigines settlements here. The trail ended near a hostel and we walked down hill and went to the monastery across the bridge, it is damn hot and humid we are sweating profusely going up the shrine, then we realized we will miss the 9:10am bus so we hurried back, we made it just in time. It got cloudy as we approach the park entrance where we got dropped off to do the Shakadang trail, recommended by the hostel owner. It was misty now, a big change in the weather and we have to walk 1km to the actual trail, we went through a tunnel which was a km long, and just as you get out to it's immediate right is the trail head. We followed this beautiful river, the trail is carved from the side of this tall cliff and some areas is not high enough so watch your head, the trail is very scenic even in the rain. We did the whole trail about 4.5 kms, there are signs not to go swimming in the river yet we saw 2 women who stepped out of the boundary line and went for
a swim anyway, the river is treacherous with dangerous currents and we did not venture out and risk our lives.
We took our time walking the trail, it's very scenic, quite a shame to rush it, there is a dam we went past then the end of the trail becomes another trail but we lack time so we decided to get back. It was spitting constantly, we have to walk towards the small town past the park entrance and over the bridge, we asked a woman for the bus stop and she pointed us to the right direction. Went back to HUalien exhausted, we had hot pot for lunch to regain our strength back. Then that night we walked another half hour to the night market with a Canadian dude in our room, he does not like to try weird stuff and was happy to play safe with tofu. That night Su and I took a long time deciding where to go next, we probably just wing it tomorrow at the bus station, whatever is leaving first to wherever.
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