Recently, I joined my girlfriend for a week-end on the East Coast of Taiwan.
While Taroko is probably the most famous spot in Hualien county, if you just drive a few kilometers south of the city, you enter another bigger, protected area called the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area. It is not a national park but rather a protected domain that boasts quite a lot of attractions. For this post I will limit the visit to some attractions in the North, but if you are interested in knowing more you can follow the link to their (english) website: http://bit.ly/1ej4tEd
While there is probably not a single major attraction there, I think that this valley is still a must for visitors in Taiwan, because it is well protected and easy to tour, has dramatic landscapes with severe cliffs falling abruptly in the sea, tea plantations, is a great place to know more about aboriginal culture and is also less known than other spots.
七星潭 (Lake of the seven Stars)
This is actually interesting because… it is not a lake, but a beach. Why has it become famous? I have to admit that I don’t know, since it looks pretty much like a regular beach, some say it has to do with the Japanese, some link it to an aboriginal story… but anyway… It is not directly situated in the East Valley, but can be worthwhile if you arrive in Hualien and have a few minutes to waste as we did. Although the place had nothing special, the contrast between the very pure blue of the ocean and the grey sand/stones on the shore, with the lush mountains on the background was quite nice!
The jewel of our visit. It is a place that’s quite difficult to find, it’s not really on the website of the administration, and you can’t go on your own, you need to register in advance at the police station of the Tongmen Township.
The best way to describe this place: it is like a little Taroko, because it is quite narrow, there are not so many tourists, actually the number is limited to 600 a day. When we went there, I didn’t really know what to expect but I have to say we were pretty convinced. We had an aboriginal lunch in a B and B, probably the aboriginals were from the Truku tribe that is living in this area. There was black-haired pig and delicious fish among other delicacies!
Then we took a small van and rode into the gorge. It has really magnificent landscapes, very impressive, and surprising actually that the place is not more famous, maybe because the government doesn’t want to promote a place with hydro-eletric dams: if you run along the river a few more kilometers, you reach several dams. So if you go, get some information before going down to the river, it can be dangerous… I have written a separate article about Mugumuyu for culture.tw and will post the link here when it is available.
The Bat Cave (月洞) and Shitiping (石梯屏)
An interesting place, this is a natural grotto carved in the mountain, and although it has no underground communication to the nearby sea, the level rises with storms and typhoons. You can do a 10 min visit by boat, and if you decide to do so, you will find a lot of bats! Anyway this is a minor attraction, but quite funny, and kids like it for sure-some of the kids that joined the tour with us were really terrified! Sorry, no pictures, it was too dark, and anyway, you’d better see for yourself!
石梯屏 is more interesting. It is a lunar landscape right by the sea, and the formation produces gigantic waves that are just amazing-see the pictures for yourself! The place has a huge parking lot with a swarm of (Chinese) tourists, but fortunately they usually don’t stay too far from their bus, so they haven’t found yet this place that is a good 200m away from the parking lot 🙂
This visit was actually very good, it made me want to see more about this part of Taiwan that I don’t know well, so we’ll surely go back and explore more to expand this post in the future!