The next leg on the Taiwan trip took us to Hualien ?? on the east coast of Taiwan.
We took a 3 hr train ride from Taipei Main Railway Station down to Hualien. We spent some time horsing around on the platform waiting for the train:
The trip to Hualien was pretty scenic – there was lovely coastline which no one saw much of but me since I don’t sleep on moving vehicles much. Here’s a sketch I did in the train vs a picture I took.
Also, this train ride was the beginning of the Unholy fascination with the fast food Taiwanese style… ?? Bian Dang!
Bian Dang is like a packed lunch box, they sell them at convenience stores, at train stations and on the train itself, and are pretty nifty to carry around. Some are more elaborate than others, this particular one had some salted veggie, chicken, tofu and an egg, yummy!
We reached Hualien without much incident, and were figuring out how to get to the hostel from the train station. One thing to remember is that when a Taiwanese says “it’s not that far”, it usually means it is quite far. We took about half an hour to walk to the hostel, backpacks and all. We ended up calling the hostel to pick us up when we were about 5-10 mins away because we were just too damn tired and too damn hot. Lesson learnt – take the free pick up service when they offer it!
The hostel we stayed in was called Formosa Backpackers. It was pretty nice, very beach/surfer oriented. But they don’t believe in locks, which does make one feel a tad unsafe leaving your luggage there. Also there was no aircon, only a floor fan (aircon only at certain times of the year!), which made for sweaty hot nights – K took to sleeping on the floor in front of the fan 1 particularly hot night. The owner also has a really cute shi tzu terrier!
The first night we were there, we walked about the town mostly. Not much public transport there, and only 3/5 of us could cycle, so the only option was walking… I swear we walked the whole damn city while we were. It’s a pretty nice place though, smaller and quieter than Taipei.
We walked around in the day and found a nice place that served ???? – basically a noodle with chili sauce that the others loved, and we would visit this place again before we left Hualien. Also, we found ourselves by the beach, pity while we were there it was pretty grey and drizzly. We decided to head back to the hostel to wash up and planned our itinerary in Hualien for the next 2 days.
At night we headed out again and ended up in a pub called All Star Pub and enjoyed a good round of drinks and lots of drinking games. We were probably their best and rowdiest customers that night, as the friendly bartenders gave us some free drinks and we had a ball of a time, a great end to our first day in Hualien!