Taiwan 2016 Day 4 – Tokoro Gorge

Expecting to welcome a beautiful sunrise especially with a balcony view but it was drizzling before daybreak and very cloudy. Waited in the balcony while playing game but still nothing. Disappointingly, I climbed back in bed. 720am was the next moment of consciousness and mommy quickly got up to prepare meal for K. I prepared and left for breakfast first as buffet breakfast would end at 9am. There was only a small selection of food consisting mainly taiwanese cuisine and a lot of people were also having their breakfast at that time.

Sunrise over Qi Xing Tan
Breakfast buffet

I swapped with mommy as I finished my meal quickly and did my share of preparing meal by putting in the fish and veg at the right time and cleaned up the dishes while baby K still slept soundly.

When K finally woke up, we got him dressed and ready to go but he wasn’t interested in having breakfast but requested for milk instead. The main activity today was to explore the Tokoro gorge by driving, similar to the 2nd day, so we didn’t want to give milk and risked another puking incident should he get car sick. The taxi car was also ready and waiting at the entrance to pick us up.

We were also prepared for car sickness by having many plastic bags on standby. Taxi uncle didn’t drive fast and sent us to a 7-11 nearby so that we could buy lunch to bring in. We got ourselves some sandwiches and seaweed rice.

The vehicle then proceeded into the National park proper, and our first stop of the day was a trail called Shakadang trail, 10mins drive away. He parked his car in the tunnel as car park was down for renovation. Retracing our steps across the bridge to the start of the trail entrance, we went through the gate and down the stairway. The light drizzle didn’t stop us as we brought along an umbrella. From the stairway we ended up on a walking path beside a water stream and then it was an easy 1.5km one way trek with not much ups and downs. Path had small stones but not too difficult to walk and K managed to walk a short distance before ending up on my child seat. At the end of the walk were some stalls selling souvenirs and and stuff so we returned without spending too much time there. The walk must have been too easy and K fell asleep on the return trip. On the other hand, it was very tiring to carry him back as he slept across my chest as I carried him with tired arms. Glad to make it  back to taxi as K continued to sleep and mommy went off to use the public toilet.

Temporary parking at the tunnel
Tunnel where the car was parked
Directions to the Shakadang trail
Entrance to the Shakadang trail.
Walkpath at Shakadang Trail
View of the bridge where we came down from
Blue waters flowing through gorge
Tokoro Gorge
Walking under the rocks
Water stream beside walkpath
Another view of the gorge

We decided to do lunch first with what we had packed from 7-11, at a location about 5mins drive away called the tourist center. K woke up just as we were about to alight. There was a restaurant that was selling food for lunch but since we were prepared with something cheaper, we only bought taroko coffee and Pamelo juice from them. We settled for tables just outside the restaurant as the tables out in the open were wet due to rain. We didn’t think they would be happy if we had our meals on the inside since those would most likely be particularly for the diners. Had our meals there without any problems.

Tokoro Visitor Center
Signboard in stone

After satisfying the hunger, went to the ground floor of the center where the driver mentioned that there were something for kids there, like a children play area. He wasn’t exactly right or at least it wasn’t some playground like I expected but there was some exhibit meant for kids. Spent some time there to explore before we got back to the car for the 2nd half of Tokoro gorge.

At the ground floor of the visitor center
Things to explore
Exhibits about the national park

We arrived at Swallow grotto but in order to walk here, we needed helmets which was readily available for loan at one of the stations. The driver brought us there and helped us get 2 helmets at the tented station while he had a baby size one for K. We drove on a little further to where the starting point was and after wearing the helmet, started our walking trail on the walkway along the gorge.

Shed to borrow safety helmets
A waterfall seen on the walk
Swallow Grotto
Going through tunnels

There were a lot of tour buses lining the road as tourists poured out from them and joined the same route. As we walked, we realized the need for the protective gears – falling rocks. Though nothing fell, there were notices along the wait that indicated that.

Warning signs on the hazards of the visit
View of the gorge from on the walk
Mountains and rivers

The beautiful sights were the water streams and the ever changing landscape of the mountains beside as we walked thru short caves. We reached a coffee shop at the midpoint and took the chance to change diapers for K at the toilet which had only one diaper changing station. We continued next section with what was about the same thing. By the time we completed the loop, the taxi was already waiting for us by the road.

Memorial of some sort at the rest stop.
River going through the gorge

Next stop was short visit to bridge to see the natural marble rocks below that was polished over time by moving water. We walked across the marble bridge overlooking from above and admiring this work of nature and boarded the taxi on the other side of the road.

White marble rocks underneath the bridge
Walking across the bridge
Pillar stubs made of marble
Observation pavillon

The last stop At the Tokoro gorge was a visit to Xiang De temple, 祥德侍. After crossing the bridge to the entrance of the temple, there were 2 ways to climb up the slope of the hill, the left a gentler newer flight of stairs and the old steeper ones. We took the one on the left as advised by our driver and arrived to a laughing Buddha. We prayed and then went to sit at the overlooking pavilion for a while, enjoying the nice view of the mountains around us. Once we had our fills of the scenery, we returned back to the car and K fell asleep on 1hr journey return.

Entrance of the temple
View from the top
Temple pagoda tower overlooking the passing stream below

As we approached the hotel, the driver showed us where to have dinner near our hotel, a restaurant selling seafood as we mentioned of a lack of food outlets nearby. We bid farewell to the driver and thanked him for the fulfilling day trip.

Back in the room, K had cupcake for teabreak while we rested and relaxed until 6ish to go downstairs to the tea corner. There was a tea break station opened 24hrs and we wanted to check it out. It was a small area with 2 tables and there were small varieties of biscuits to choose from and some free coffee to complement the biscuits. The rain had forced us to stay indoors anyway we spent some time there before heading to the restaurant.

Tea break area in the hotel
Complimentary cookies and coffee and tea

At the not too crowded restaurant, Bao Xian Lou, 包鮮樓, we ordered some sunfish, veg, egg and soup. K was cranky and as we tried to let K eat, he didn’t like it a lot. The portions were huge and we were quite full by the time we were done. Total costs for the dinner was an affordable 700NT.

Seafood restaurant near the hotel, 包鮮樓

After 2mins walk back to the room, R&R continued with a little playtime with K. There was some TV time and bath time and packing time before sleeptime when K downed a bottle of milk. Thought the night would have ended on an usual routine but the nightmare began. After drinking the milk, without any notice, K vomited on the bed, milk and some of dinner. I managed to catch most of what he puked in my hand but sheets still got some and was very smelly. We urgently activated housekeeping to help change the bedsheets and quilt. They do not have exact spares at this time of the day and so we had made do with whatever spares that they had. We tipped the staff for this urgent request when they were done changing out the sheets.

I then washed up the clothes with detergent as it was very smelly from the puke. K took the opportunity to walk around since we all weren’t sleeping yet. He slipped and fell at the toilet due to wet floor but didn’t cry too long. Learnt his lessons on wet floor. By the time I was done with laundry it was already 1130. Retired tired and worse was we had to start early the next day for our road trip to Cingjing.

Taiwan 2016 Day 3 – To Hualien and Qi Xing Tan

It was 5am when K asked for milk. Worried that about regurgitation so I prepared a small amount in a daze and went back to sleep. The next thing we knew, it was already 820am. Late! Mommy swinged into action and went to cook quickly. K woke up at 830 and drank milk again, probably hungry from not eating a lot the day before.

I washed up and started to pack while K entertained himself by watching tv. Good thing the laundry was pretty dry after being hung under the aircon for the whole night. I went downstairs to the same stalls to buy cong zhua bing and noodles teppanyaki black pepper for breakfast. It was weird that no one was lining up for the delicious cong zhua bing, maybe it was because it was a weekday.

Cong Zhua Bing and Teppanyaki Noodles for brekkie

After our breakfast of the Taiwanese food, and K had biscuits, we got changed quickly, packed the bags and left, with the pasta left semi cooked, without even waiting for landlord.

1030 was the train to Hualien and we braved the small drizzle to get to the station. With 4 tickets on hand, we proceeded thru the barrier at TRA to platform 4. The train hasn’t arrived by the time we arrived. As the train pulled into the station, we waited behind a crowd during boarding. Our 2 big luggage was parked at the luggage compartment near the entrance while we got ourselves seated comfortably at our 4 seater which came with a table. It was a good move to have bought all the seats cos we had a lot of hand carried items that we left on the empty seat.

Train tickets to Hualien
Inside the train
Destination stop – Hualien

The whole journey was spent trying to keep K entertained. He spent some time on the handphone looking at photos and videos, walked along the aisle of the train and played puzzles that we brought along. Worried he got dizzy prepared plastic bag. Thought he almost vomited but didn’t and thankfully he fell asleep, which gave us time to rest. There were sales of food items as the train staff pushed a trolley down the aisle and we bought a bottle of mineral water. I took a nap as mommy entertained herself with hand phone games. There weren’t much to see outside, all we saw were rice fields which reminded me of the Jay Chou song Dao Xiang.

When the trained pulled into the Hualien station, we headed towards the exit where we found a resort staff with our name card. He helped us moved the bag to parking where a van waited. We were on road after boarding, took a short trip to the gas station to pump gas and we were on our way. As usual, we looked out for K but he didn’t puke in the 10mins time drive to the resort.

Hualien train station behind the construction hoarding
Resort transfer shuttle
Arch with bells at the entrance of the resort
Hotel Bayview

Resort staff helped with the luggage as we checked in Hotel Bayview. Mommy had booked the Honeymoon room that came with a balcony, had a sea view of Qi Xing Tan, which is effectively the sea, and a nice tub. With the free wifi, we FaceTime home to keep parents informed on our location and then left for lunch. Reception informed that there was nothing much to eat nearby and they didn’t have a restaurant. So we walked around and found a mini food stall in what looked like a cultural center.

Room with balcony
and shower

Ordered 2 fried rice and sunfish dish for lunch. Fish meat was quite chewy and had translucent skin, something that I was eating for the first time. K ate some home cooked pasta and shared with us our fried rice. Then we paid 510NT and left for the supermarket on the opposite side of the road to buy milk and yogurt and the milk coffee.

Fried rice
Sunfish dish
Iced tea and hot tea
Qi Xing Ke Zhan, 七星客棧
Temple next to the eating place

Before we start exploring the beautiful beach and its surroundings, we returned to the room to leave the unimportant things and left for bicycle riding. The hotel had free bicycles for rent but didn’t have one with child seat so we proceeded to another bicycle rental shop about 5mins walk away to get one with a baby seat. It was a nice area for cycling with good paved road for cycling and strolling, a beautiful view of the long coast accompanied with cool sea breeze. There were tourists but not in overly crowded numbers, enough people to make the place lively, even though there was a slight drizzle. Managed take a couple of photos at the stony beach and the surrounding. Thankfully toilets were available as I had sudden stomachache. We rode back soon after as K seemed tired.

Walking/cycling path by the sea at Qi Xing Tan
Lots of rocks
of the pebbly beach

After returning the hotel bike, we got back to the room, made milk for K and K enjoyed a fun long bath at the tub. Then he spent some time watching tv although there weren’t any baby tv. I went to return the external rental bike afterwards since we know we won’t be riding again. It was then nap time as K fell asleep at 5pm while we relaxed and played with our phones and did the dishes.

K woke up at 645pm when we got ready to go. The staff at the reception gave us a taxi contact card so that we could get anywhere we wanted. The taxi picked us up from the entrance as the thoughtful staff shielded us from the drizzle with umbrellas. Our first stop was to Carrefour to shop for groceries and we got there with 175NT. Mommy bought fish while K enjoyed his ride in a car built into the trolley.


We called the taxi again to go to Zi Qiang night market. Fortunately the drizzle fizzled as we arrived at the night market. Our objective was to find dinner suitable for K, something with rice. Visited a ru rou stall ordered veg, rice and fish ball soup which K managed to have a little bit of each.

Zi Qiang Night Market
Wide open spaces with many stalls
Ru Rou rice and vegetables

After we were done with the sit down dinner, we walked to buy the so-called coffin with chicken (蔣家花蓮創意官財板) and it was quite nice! There were some stalls having kiddy rides where K spent some time sitting in them, both moving and stationary, while mommy went around exploring the night market to buy and try more food. She bought a duck related food but it tasted very weird – it actually numbed the mouth and the tongue! Next we ordered papaya juice and shared with K and also some stinky fries (堂薯薯臭薯條) which was delicious. We completed the food tasting with the order of piggy noodles (豬豬豬原住民美食) to go, and got a taxi to return to the hotel, that costed about 250NT.

Coffin rice stall
Coffin rice
Statue at the end of the market
Kiddy rides
Salty numbing chicken
Salty chicken
Smelly fries stall
Smelly fries
Pig Pig Pig stall
Piggy noodles packaging
What’s on the inside

After we were back at the room, we started to eat the piggy noodles, which was a big portion and overall tasted ok. We walked to the Family Mart to buy some cake for K and milk. It was then toddler maintenance before some play and a well deserved sleep.