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Saturday, September 9, 2017

2 Days in Hualien July'17: The Incredibly Beautiful East Coast of Taiwan (Day 2)

Continuing on from Day 1 of my Hualien travelogue, let's now move on to Day 2 of Hualien - We went jade picking, drove along the beautiful East Coast and visited some stunning spots that I would never imagine finding in Taiwan!

If you're looking for details on guide/driver recommendations, how to get from Taipei to Hualien and also my accommodation in Hualien, refer to my blog post on Hualien Day 1 for more information!


Day Two - Jade Picking & East Coast Drive
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I got a good night's rest and rose early for Day 2 in Hualien! Breakfast was prepared with love by my minsu  一九九九民俗 (1999 B&B) from Booking.com! Pretty awesome I must say. The BnB staff were so warm-hearted and friendly too!

Jade Picking at Bai Bao Creek

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Ivan had told me excitedly about this part of the itinerary the day before, and I was really intrigued by it. An opportunity to pick my own jade from a river? Sounds really cool and fun!

At Bai Bao Creek (白鮑溪), you can seek treasure literally from the river bed! The source of the stream flows from an old jade mine, which used to be a booming industry back in Taiwan's hey days of jade production.

We spent about an hour in the creek foraging through the river bed and overturning rocks and gravel to look for pieces of jade! There were quite a few times when I thought I found jade, only for it to be some odd green non-jade piece of rock, yikes.

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Although Ivan taught me how to distinguish jade from other rocks, it was still a challenge to differentiate between plain ole' rock and jade... Hahaha. I managed to find quite a few small pieces though, but Ivan found a really huge one (the one on the left)! What a sense of achievement!


If you pick a good-sized jade, you can bring it to Lu-Fung Jade Workshop nearby to process and polish the piece of jade! Unfortunately though, the master at the workshop told us that our jade pieces were not suitable for processing because they were either too small or too soft.

You can also select a piece of unprocessed jade at the workshop itself and then go through the DIY session of jade polishing and shaping with the help of the workshop staff! A very meaningful activity because you'll have a lovely keepsake that you created by yourself as a great momento of Hualien.

Danongdafu Forest Park

Along the route to East Coast, we first drove to Danongdafu Forest Park (大農大富平地森林園區)

This forest park stretches over 1,250 hectares (more than 1,250 soccer fields) and is breathtaking with its vast open spaces and spectacular mountains.

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It was very relaxing to stroll around the fields and take in the fresh air, something we don't get to do often in the city, for sure.

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It's not just a scenic spot - This place is an ecological and recreation park and designed to focus on recreation, organic production, environmental healing and sustainable cultural development in the Rift Valley.

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Do visit the picturesque maple-tree lined trail at Danongdafu Forest Park for a lovely walk under the tall lush trees under the dappled sunlight. Such a simple pleasure in life!

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We made a quick stop for a bento lunch along the way - Gotta love Taiwan's little bento shops that serve up cheap and delicious bento meals that are great on-the-go!

East Coast Tour & Drive

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From the mountains to the seas - It's amazing how much the landscape of Taiwan can change with just a short drive! One of the best parts of Hualien for me was the drive along the East Coast, where we were treated to splendid views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged rock formations.

Shi Ti Ping 石梯坪
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The entire drive is incredibly scenic, but one particularly outstanding spot is Shitiping, a popular camping site 70km south of Hualien!

I didn't do any camping of course, hopefully I'll have more time in Hualien the next time so that I can do more. There are also other outdoor activities you can do at Shi Ti Ping such as scuba diving and dolphin-watching, too!

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The major attraction at Shi Ti Ping is the unique coastline formed by erosion and raised coral reefs - It's absolutely beautiful! "Shi Ti Ping" means stone steps, and the terraced volcanic rock and coral formations look like a huge staircase rising out to the sea.

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We were fortunate to have fantastic weather that made the rugged beauty of the naturescape even more breathtaking.

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There is something very mesmerizing about watching and hearing the sea come to life. Look at those waves crash into the shore and dissipate into white foamy spray in the air!

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Love this view!

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The waters can get rough around here, so swimming is strictly prohibited, though you may spot fishermen trying their luck at fishing! In fact, the waters are so clear that you'll be able to spot schools of little fish darting about underwater if you look closely.



Xinshe Coastal Rice Terraces

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We wrapped up the day with a final stop at Xinshe Coastal Rice Terraces, which Ivan was really excited about! I understood his enthusiasm once we arrived - The golden rice fields set against the vast backdrop of the aquamarine Pacific Ocean and distant mountain ranges truly make for a magnificent sight!

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The Xin She Coastal Rice Terraces are most beautiful in summer right before the fields are harvested, but you can visit in other seasons (sunflowers are grown here in the winter time) as well.

We drove back to Hualien City from Xin She, concluding the end of my two days itinerary in Hualien with Ivan, but not before I begged Ivan to bring me back for my 炸蛋蔥油餅!

Bomb diggity!!

Here's a parting shot with Ivan - Thank you for the wonderful two days in Hualien! Ivan's contact details are in my earlier post if you need them!

On a side-note, I got well-roasted after just two days in the unrelenting summer sun, so remember to hydrate with lots of water and don't forget to apply your sunscreen religiously whenever possible!

Leaving Hualien

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Said my goodbyes to Hualien and departed the same way I arrived - via the train back to Taipei City.

Although it was a short two days in Hualien, I enjoyed my time there immensely, and highly recommend anyone visiting Taiwan to fit in a few days for Hualien into your itinerary! With its rich history and diverse landscapes, Hualien will be a pleasant respite from the city, leaving you with nothing but the best memories of its natural beauty and quiet charm.

I'll be back for more next time, Hualien!

Read other Taiwan travelogues below:

2 DAYS IN HUALIEN: TAROKO NATIONAL PARK - GOING OFF THE BEATEN PATH (DAY 1)
TAIPEI JAN'15: 十分放天灯! RELEASING SKY LANTERNS AT SHIFEN
TAIPEI JAN'15: 寧夏夜市! FOOD TRAIL AT NINGXIA NIGHT MARKET
TAIPEI JAN'15: STAYING AT W TAIPEI
TAIPEI JAN'15: JIN FENG, BEST BRAISED PORK RICE IN TAIWAN! 金峰, 台北最好吃的卤肉饭!
TAIPEI JAN'17: MAN TANG HONG 滿堂紅 - BEST CHEAP HOTPOT BUFFET IN TAIPEI

xoxo


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