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.

Escape plan to Taiwan November 2016

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Taiwan 2016:

Total duration 9D9N
There is no time difference between Singapore and Taiwan.
Flight time is 5hrs 35mins on Scoot from Singapore to Taipei.
Return is almost 5hrs on Tigerair from Taipei to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Taipei at 1255am, arriving at 530am in Taipei. Return flight from Taipei to Singapore is at 155pm and touching down in Singapore at 650pm.

Day 1 Arrival in Taipei and some shopping
Day 2 Cat Village, Jiufen and Shifen
Day 3 To Hualien and Qi Xing Tan
Day 4 Tokoro Gorge
Day 5 Landslide on the way to Cingjing
Day 6 Arrival in Cingjing farm and Old England tea and Swiss Garden
Day 7 Cingjing farm visit and arrival in Flying cow ranch
Day 8 Flying cow ranch, Leofoo village and stay
Day 9 Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned to celebrate our boy’s 2nd birthday. Therefore, most of the destinations in the itinerary were more catered towards his interests ( but since he arrived, most of our trips were already like these).

Budget – affordable most of the journey until the visit to Leofoo village which was quite expensive.

Taiwan was a country known to be affordable if we want it to be. Taking public transport such as the trains and staying in Airbnb helps keep the costs down. However, travel in less developed areas required us to book a driver or self drive which was not too bad. The only big spendings we had was the Flying cow ranch farmstay in a private villa and safari hotel in Leofoo village which was expected to be expensive.

Complexity – High without car. Ours made easy due to car and Google maps on data plan.

The public transportation in Taipei city was easy to use and therefore getting around was straightforward. Out of the main city and into the mountains and farms then a car is a must or private car is a must as public transportation would require quite a bit of planning and a lot time. Road signs would require a little to get used to but it’s not too difficult if you know Chinese. When going through the mountains, we learnt to read road blockages due to landslide. Knowing where to get the most updated news is essential as most of the mountainous roads are single lane and only one way there and planning ahead helps to avoid a long detour. Sometimes there are no data signals on the mountainous area but it is not difficult since there is only one road to navigate.