Currently traveling

Taiwan

September 2018 - October 2019
Currently traveling
  • Day21

    Setting the world to rights

    October 15, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Unfortunately we decided not to go to to the Taroko Gorge as the clouds over the mountains looked quite low and threatening, so instead we spent the morning setting the world to rights. We had quite an in depth discussion about how we felt with regards to the current pollution crisis and what we feel we can to ourselves to help from vegan ism, transport systems, housing and how we feel the government can and should encourage the population to make the right choices. Obviously us taking so many flights etc is not helpful towards this so we actually looked to see if it was possible to do the shorter journeys by land or sea, but it was interesting to find out that a lot of them you actually can't. 2 coffees and a green tea in we decided we should probably go for a wander.

    We wandered to a park to have lunch, Will bought a ring donut from a bakery and then we went along the river towards Pine Garden. It was hot, cloudy and muggy. Along the river we found the perfect spot for watching jumping fish. That entertained us for a while!! No idea what the fish were but they were big, silver and could jump impressively high. We thought they might be salmon but we are unsure. We also spotted a yellow wagtail on the side of the river.

    Once we got to the Pine Garden we realised you had to pay. It is literally 5 pine trees in a garden!! There were pine trees outside the park! Seriously why do they make people pay for these things. So needless to say we didn't go in. Instead we walked back to the river walked to the opposite side, watched the fish, saw a grey heron and then walked around the city centre until we could justify it being dinner time.

    For dinner we went on a bit of a foodie tour. Will had a chicken roll (3 chicken balls wrapped in chicken skin and grilled on a stick, it wasn't great actually), a KFC style chicken drumstick, we tried green bean mochi (still not a fan of mochi), a croissant filled with custard with a meringue on top (this was dessert when we got back) and then xao long bao (sooo yummy, will ate 5!!). Will was then super full so we started to head back, but I was still pretty hungry. On the way back I saw a buffet style restaurant that had looooads of veg so I just had to go in. I just filled the plate with lots of veg and... the thing we have been looking for since we got here... the famous 1000 year egg. Also known as the Pidan it is a Chinese preserved food product and delicacy made by preserving eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months. I can't describe how God awful this looks,but I will try and describe its textures (see last pic below, bottom left weird eggy thing... ). What would normally be the yellow yolk is still runny, but is a congealed, green, slimey goo, which oozes when you cut up the egg. What would normally be the white of the egg is a brown jelly. The whole thing tastes like a Kippery Egg. If you close your eyes it actually isn't that bad but the look of it is another level. To sum it up, I thought it was fine, but Will was feeling quite queezy after just one bite. Finally we went back to our long await gyoza shop and bought 5 gyoza. All in all we only spent £6.38 on what was actually quite a lot of food 😊

    When we got back to the hostel we booked our taxi for the morning, packed for our 7kg handluggage flight and then ate our amazing desert, yum!!
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  • Day20

    A Quick Swim Before Hualien

    October 14, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We have the scooter for the morning and then in the afternoon we are getting the bus and train to Hualien.

    To make the most of our day we went for a quick swim in the morning. To be honest the waves were so big that we were more bobbing in the water than swimming. Running a bit late to pick up our bags we quickly raced back to the hostel, pick up our bags and then Will dropped me and the luggage off at the main square in Hengchun next to the bus station. Will then drove to drop off the scooter.

    While I was waiting for Will to come back I decided to make use of the time and the sunshine. I draped all our swimwear and towel all over the bench and then made our peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I must have looked like a homeless person 😂 I wish I'd taken a picture! In fact I've realised I've not taken any pictures of our day at all...

    For those that can remember Will's pants moment in Cambodia, guess what... We had another! I couldn't find his swim shorts and he realised he left them at the hostel. I had both our backpacks and packed up the drying and walked back to the hostel to pick them up. It was now midday, the burning heat couldn't have been hotter and I was walking for 20 mins with 2 backpacks. I was not impressed! Just as I arrived back at the square, absolutely drenched, Will turned up. Soaked and shattered we then jumped on the bus to to the train station.

    Before coming to Kenting we did exactly the same journey in reverse so we knew our way, or we thought we did. When we got to the train station we tried to buy our tickets and it seemed to be the most difficult thing to do, at one point he printed us 6 tickets 4 if which were for the same train and then when we said we need to pay using card he ripped up the tickets and handed us 4 instead of 6. Utterly confused, starving as we hadn't had breakfast and it was now 2pm we went for a brown sugar bubble tea and ate our sandwiches 😊

    The journey was long but we eventually got to Hualien at 8pm. Luckily we have been here before so we went straight to the hostel, dropped off our bags and had pork noodle soup for dinner. Yum 😋

    As I didn't take many pictures today I've added some of signs we've seen that are interesting...
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  • Day19

    Just Keep Swimming...

    October 13, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌬 28 °C

    Yesterday we were unsure what to do with our final 4 days, but decided to stay in Kenting one more day and then two nights in Hualien (in hope to get into the Taroko Gorge again).

    Today we decided to have a free day. The morning was spent finding and booking our accomodation for our last few days and then we jumped on the scooter and headed to South Beach. We went attempted to swim for a while but the waves got quite big so we decided to move on to see Baisha beach, also famous for starring in the Life of Pi. I can understand why, it was so beautiful.

    The sun was at its peak when we arrived so we sat amongst the huge coral rocks and ate our lunch in the tiniest bit of shade. Then we went for a cool and refreshing swim. It was a much better swim here as the waves weren't as big! We stayed for a while swimming, reading, swimming, reading and swimming. What a fab day! We decided to stay till sunset. Sunset was OK. Everyone always talks and shows pictures of incredible sunsets. I must admit we have now down a tonne of sunsets and still not had thee sunset that everyone shows in the pictures!

    We then went back to the main street in Kenting and picked up our luggage to take to Hengchun which is where we were staying that evening, about 20 mins scooter ride away. Now scooters aren't big and this particular one was pretty teeny. Fitting 2 people and two backpacks was not easy!! Will was on the front driving and I had to hold/ balance two backpacks on me. It was not a comfy journey but we got there in the end.

    For dinner I had Soy pork with rice, will had spare rib noodle soup and then we had some dumplings. Yum! As it was a Saturday it was impossible to find accomodation within our budget. The cheapest thing we could find was a dorm room. It was really odd... The room was basically a big shelf with a bed on each shelf... Let's see how we sleep tonight...
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  • Day18

    Sheding and Cruising Down the Coast

    October 12, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌬 28 °C

    It absolutely down poured all night, but luckily by the morning it was dry, crazyily windy but dry. Today the plan is to visit Sheding Nature Reserve and then go for a coastal drive along the east side.

    Sheding Nature Reserve was small but pretty, we walked the whole reserve in the morning, through the coral gorges, up the decking to see the coastal views and it was really peaceful. This whole area, in fact the whole of Taiwan, used to be completely under water until an earthquake formed the island. This has resulted in coral reef gorges within the reserve. They were very impressive. It must be butterfly season at the moment because they reserve was full of all kinds. It was really beautiful, unfortunately some of them were struggling in the wind! At the top we had our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before heading back to the bike and beginning our coastal drive.

    Luckily it wasn't as windy as yesterday and we were able to go much further round the west coast. We stopped at a couple of view points and ended up in Jialeshui. This must be surfer heaven! The waves are huge here. We sat for a while just watching all the surfers of all levels. In all honesty it was a good laugh and by the end we were really egging them on from the sideline to do well.

    After a while we jumped back on the bike and drove to Hengchun to see the old town in daylight. We wandered along the old city walls and along the cobbled streets but to be honest there wasn't much else to do. We sat in the main square and decided to do a bit of planning and booked another flight, super excited but I'll tell you where to when it happens! In celebration we went for an early dinner. Its only 5pm but we are starving, so eat we shall.

    We finished the day planning for the next day and drinking brown sugar bubble tea. Going to miss this stuff!
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  • Day17

    Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

    October 11, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌬 28 °C

    "What a difference a day/ sleep makes". We both slept like there was no tomorrow and fully made the most of our suite. At about 10:30am I popped downstairs to extend our booking, in hope they will let us keep the room for the same price. But I think we had our luck and they were fully booked up! So we quickly packed and found somewhere else to stay that was just a minute walk down the room. Not quite as cheap, beautiful and roomy but still an ensuite with a fridge, kettle and tv. We weren't expecting to check in so early but amazingly we could which was perfect.

    For brunch we had sausage and rice bento box from 7-11 and then hired a bike from our old hotel for half the price of everywhere else in the town. Today we planned to do various site seeing spots but to be honest I'm so sick of eating rubbish food so we went to a local town to a supermarket to buy cereal, milk, fruit, snacks and sandwich stuff so we don't have to eat out 3 meals a day for a couple of days. Oh and we bought a couple of different fruity beers which they don't sell at 7-11 so we thought we'd try them. By the time we got back it was around 3pm, so we had a cereal lunch and Will had a noodle pot. We didn't have any bowls or cutlery so let's just say we had to improvise. We had cereal out of plastic water cups and Will ate his noodles using two free toothbrush ends that we got free with the room 🤣

    Then we jumped on the bike and went for a coastal drive. It felt about 100 degrees with a gale force wind. The views were really pretty but as usual a few of the must see places had a cost attached so we didn't end up seeing the lighthouse. On our way back we saw a cloud iridescence, which is a rainbow in a cloud!

    In the evening we agreed to meet Alex who was now in Kenting at sunset the Guanshan view point. We were running pretty late but arrived just in the nick of time and guess what you had to pay to enter! We decided not to pay as the sunset wasn't great and Alex hadn't made it in time either. It was now getting really windy.

    For dinner we met up with Alex and Bianca in Hengchun and went to a veggie buffet (it was OK, but not great), we tried shaved ice which is a huge craze here (again it was OK but probably wouldn't get it again) and our usual fried chicken (yum).

    Then came the reason we all came to Kenting, the ground on fire on Chuhuo National Scenic Area. We all joked about how rubbish it was going to be and the flame will probably be the size of a tea light but it was actually really lovely. We sat around, drank beers and chatted about all our travels. It was such a nice evening. The wind suddenly turned up a notch so we got back on our bikes and drove home. The drive home was about half an hour and we were both holding on to dear life the whole way. The wind had really picked up and it was tough but we got home safely. Will treated himself to a bubble wrap waffle when we arrived 😊
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  • Day16

    Rain, rain, go away and don't come back!

    October 10, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Well the weather has defeated us again. It rained ALL morning. Our plan to see the North East of Taiwan just isn't possible with this bad weather so after a lot of deliberation we decided to head south to a place called Kenting. It wasn't the easiest of places to get to but it's the southern most part of the island and the weather is generally good so we went for it!

    After a bit of confusion with buying our ticket we missed our first train but after that it was pretty straight forward, 2 trains and then a bus ride and we arrived for 6:30pm. Let's just say our moods were not great during the travel as we were both so gutted (and soaked) about not going to the North, but ah well. I can hear you say, "Well you could have just sucked it up and and gone in the rain", but it would have just been horribly miserable!! Once we got on the bus the sun was shining and our moods got better. We made the right decision!

    When we arrived the bus dropped us off about 20 mins from the hotel and when getting off I saw a small girl carrying a pizza box. It was a sign, tonight was the night for our Taiwanese Pizza. For those that are new to the blog we've had one pizza in each country and its been fun! We ordered a seafood pizza and although not the best or biggest, it was super popular and hit the spot.

    We then walked along the main night market strip to our hotel and let's be honest it's a sin to walk through a night market without getting anything so we bought what I can only describe as an open, sweetened beef sandwich with sweet potato crisps covered in molten cheese. We sat on the street with a beer from 7-11, eating our sweetened burger watching everyone passby. I wouldn't get it again but it did fill us up! So one thing we have found bizarre here is although they are crazily safety conscious, they have a really busy night market on the sides of the highway with pedestrians crossing aimlessly and trucks and coaches passing at 60kmph.

    Finally we made it to our hotel and upon check-in the owner apologised as she had given our room away, so has upgraded us to a suite. Obviously we were so angry by this... Ugh... not!! WINNING!!! We had a double bed each, a sofa area and ensuite. What a perfect end to a rough day 😊 It was only 9pm but as soon as I put my head down I was fast asleep while Will watched Xmen on the TV haha.
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  • Day15

    Well you can't have it all!

    October 9, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Well after having gorgeous weather yesterday, booking an extra night and booking an extra day with the scooter, we got up early for another exciting day out but obviously it decided to pour it down! Up we got anyway in hope it would stop but we didn't have much luck in the morning. Instead we did our washing, Will got his hair cut and I read more of Anne Frank's diary.

    Around 11am it started to just spit and so we jumped on the scooter and drove to Qingshui Cliffs. Even though it was very cloudy the views were really pretty along the coastline with the towering cliffs and the blue crashing waves in the sea. This was spoilt slightly by the number of tunnels in which the road went through which were suffocating and full of maniac trucks that would all of a sudden overtake us on the bike in a narrow 2 lane tunnel! We had a late lunch at the viewpoint along the way.

    After a couple more scenic stops we arrived back in town and went to Meilun Sea Shore Park, Beibin Park and Nanbin Park. Nanbin Park was by far the best with its coastal views and enormous rocky beach. Truly calming for the end of the day.

    In the evening we ate the famous spring onion pancake with a runny egg in the center (mine burst all over me, I was such an embarrassing mess!), Xia Long bào (soooo tasty) and gyzo dumplings. Good day of food!

    The plan for tomorrow is to pack up and hopefully begin working our way northwards.
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  • Day14

    Yey - Back to normality!

    October 8, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    We both woke up with a spring in our feet as we knew we were going to have an amazing day. We were finally able to get hold of a scooter and were going to go to the mountains!! Taroko Gorge is the number one place to go in Taiwan. Although very touristy its easy to get off the tourist trail by heading a bit further and not going on the smaller trail roads. To be honest we didn't care, we had sunshine, a scooter and mountains. Perfect.

    The drive was soo gorgeous, first along the coast and then through the mountains. Gosh it was good to be back to normality!

    First stop was to go to a hidden natural hotspring. Annoyingly I'm a stickler for rules and I just couldn't bring myself to go in as it was actually closed off. Will on the other hand went for it. He said it was very very hot and came out sweating like mad. I definitely had a bit of FOMO on this occasion but ah well.

    For lunch we made peanut butter and jam sandwiches from breakfast at the hostel and ate them on our next stop, Baiyang Waterfall. At the moment it's the end of rainy season and you can definitely see it from the fast flowing river! I can see why its the number 1 place to visit in Taiwan.

    Next we did a bike tour round various photo ops and on our way down hit "total grid lock". It was crazy busy and there was a very narrow road and the traffic was being managed. Luckily we were on a scooter and were able to race to the front 😊 We soon jetted off and as it was beginning to shower we decided to head home before it got dark.

    For dinner we went to a really tasty beef noodle soup restaurant and for 25p extra you could order a large, so we did. It was ridiculously big, so I gave half to Will to finish off. Well at least he didn't need a second dinner today!

    It was only 6pm when we finished. I went for a much needed haircut and then chilled in the hostel with a hot chocolate.

    I'm not sure if I told you about a tune that we keep hearing everywhere? It's driving us bonkers and as I write this blog it's going on repeatedly outside. It's a tune that the bin lorry makes to alert residents it's coming round. All residents have to throw their own rubbish in the wagons so everyday from dawn till dusk this annoying tune is played and it is constantly stuck in our heads! But not going to let that ruin our amazing day 😊

    I'm so so so so so so glad we are finally getting back into the swing of things and able to visit the mountains, its made such a big difference on our mood!
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  • Day13

    "R&R" and Haulien

    October 7, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    As expected the home brew mead and beer were ridiculously strong. We were both up all night unable to get any rest and our hostel was particularly noisy last night. We were so restless we both got up at 7:30am and headed down for some breakfast. I went back for a lie down after and then we got on with our day around 10am. Feeling achy and shattered we decided to get some well deserved R&R with Alex. However, as usual our R&R never works out.

    We went in search for the local waterfall. If I'm honest I should stop having high expectations when people say we must visit the waterfalls. First we got completely lost in the baking heat and ended up walking for 1.5 hour and then when we got there it was tiny! It had a small shallow pool of water that we all decided to have a bathe in. It was sooo refreshing after sweating refusly again on our walk there.

    After an hour me and Will headed back to the hostel for a quick shower and just made it in time for our bus to our next destination, Hualien, which is on the east of Taiwan and is where everyone stays to visit the Taroko Gorge. (If you are reading this please can you pray for good weather for us?! Much appreciated!)

    On arrival we checked into our hostel and ate a delicious bowl of wonton and rice noodle soup for dinner. Will was so hungry he ate two! The ladies were all at the front of the restaurant making the wontons as the orders flew in. It was super impressive.

    Finally, we are feeling much better in Taiwan, I think we are starting to get into the swing of things. What a difference being in the countryside has made.
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  • Day12

    Mount Dulan

    October 6, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We have finally found a mountain that we can hike!! After an amazing night sleep neither of us rushed to get out of bed as we assumed it would be as cloudy as yesterday. On getting out we realised it was really sunny so we made some peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches and headed out.

    Challenge #1 - Getting along the main road (halfway to the trail)
    The trail started about a 2 hour walk from where our hostel was and we had no mode of transport. It was time to try and hitch hike. Luckily we saw a Chinese tour bus on the main road so we asked the driver if he would take us along the main road which would take us half way to the trail. He happily agreed!

    Challenge #2 - Getting to the start of the trail
    The next section was a very steep winding road that ideally we wanted to hitch hike on again. On the way we met Alex, from our hostel, who had attempted to bike up but her chain had completely bust so ended up joining us. Unfortunately the only passing traffic would have been other walkers and as it was quite late we didn't pass any so we ended up walking the whole way up. After over an hour we finally got to the trail head woohoo!

    The forest track was really pretty with views over the coast but oh my goodness within about 5 mins of walking we were all soaked to the bone in sweat. The humidity and heat was unbearable! Even our shorts were a darker shade, it was disgusting I must admit. Luckily all 3 of us looked as bad as each other so we just kept going. It was pretty steep the whole way ascending up 1100m from the coast line. It felt like we were making no progress. Every 0.5km marker was more of a disappointment than encouragement, but we got there in the end... It got so foggy when at the top. And there was absolutely no view at the top. Oh how I wish we had a chainsaw and we could have just chopped off the top of the trees!

    I began talking to a Taiwanese youngster on the way down who was so lovely and modest about his English. He spoke fantastic English and just kept apologising saying how terrible it was.

    On the way down we were really hoping we could find a car to hitch hike, this time with the added difficulty of taking a broken bike too. But our prayers were answered just as we got to the end of the trail a pickup truck pulled up and Jen Jen helped us ask the owner if he would take us back to town. He said yes!!! What an amazing guy! So me and Will jumped in the trailer and we soon arrived back at the hostel.

    In desperate need of a shower, we all washed and then headed to the Vietnamese restaurant for a well deserved dinner. In the evening we bought beer from the 7-11 and then went to watch a local band play at the now abandoned sugar factory. It was great fun and we tried the local beer, oh my goodness it felt strong. After the band ended we sat and chatted for a while and then eventually headed home to bed.

    I don't know what was in that beer but I've been up all night! Hope I feel OK in the morning.
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