Taiwan: Taroko National Park in Hualien (Part 2)

Travel Period : 30th Oct – 6th Nov 2012

{  Continued from previous post Taroko Gorge (Part 1)  }

Bulowan ( 布洛灣 )

After we rested enough, we walked back to Mr Li who decided to drive us to ‘Bulowan‘ since we didn’t visit the Pagoda.

This place used to be a real Truku Tribe village but it is now converted to a ‘museum’ park where one can view multimedia presentations, look at exhibitions of their culture, arts and crafts and get tribal items from a shop. Unfortunately, the theatre happened to be close on Monday so we didn’t get to see any presentations. There’s also a hotel in the region where tourists could stay to experience the culture and food. The surrounding landscape is very nice to look at and the place was so serene and quiet that we actually lowered our voices to chat.

It was interesting to read and look at the exhibition items though to know more about the Taroko Tribe. They moved into the Taroko Region 200-300 years ago. They bitterly resisted Chinese rule and later, was at war with the Japanese for 18 years before being defeated and was moved from the mountains to the lowlands. They still exist now in some areas of Hualien.

The women were skilled weavers so there was a loom on exhibition showing how the cloth was weaved. Mr Li told us we can find an old woman doing the weaving but she was not there that day. I found this craft amazing due to the intricate patterns and learnt that a woman is only considered coming of age and able to marry if she could weave well.

I was tempted to buy some tribal stuff but I had gotten some earlier on in the aboriginal theme park. Hence, we decided to just get a small owl key chain instead with the Taroko National Park’s name on it. Owl is a sacred animal to the tribes and the shop sold owl cups and lots of uniquely carved wooden owl stuffs. I’m collecting cat stuff so I didn’t buy any.

Dar fell asleep on our shoulders and we stayed there for a while before proceeding to the next scenic spot, ‘Changchun Shrine’.

Changchun Shrine ( 长春祠 )

This shrine was built to commemorate the 226 personnel (military veterans) who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway (1956~1960). As the spring water flows all year round, it is named as ‘Eternal Spring’.

With the Tang Dynasty-styled architecture and a small waterfall, the whole place looks like a chinese painting from afar.

By this time, busloads of tourists have arrived. We stood along with them taking pictures and walking in the centre of the bridge when a vehicle came forward wanting to go through. Everybody scrambled to the sides. We then realised that this is not a closed road. As the sign said, this bridge is only for vehicle to pass through one at a time.

We proceeded to walk down the stairs to go to the Guanyin Shrine 觀音洞 . The names of the workers were placed on the plaque in front of the statues with explanations and a road map of the Central Cross-Island highway. After walking through the Jiuqudong, bridges and all these beautiful tunnels, I felt strongly for these people who died in construction of the highway. One can only imagine how tough the conditions were, trying to build roads in the mountains. Incense smells filled the small tunnel hole. Even though there were many people, we felt calm in this religious place. Everybody automatically kept silent once they enter here in their presence.

We then continued to walk through the tunnels which was lighted up in short gaps, looking at the chiseled walls and tiled floors. It was a nice experience but it made me wonder just how much work they did, trying to dig through the mountains to create these!

Once we step out of the tunnel, the sight of a stream of ‘Eternal Spring’ waters over a little bridge greeted us. Cool air, sound of gushing waters, picturesque architecture and surrounding natural forests. The whole place could make you forget your worries for a while.

We took a look at the temple but didn’t want to walk beyond it where there was some natural trail. Walking back the same way we came from, we hopped on Mr Li’s cab and headed to ‘Qi Xing Tan 七星潭 ‘.

{ Next Post: Close to the Sea at Qi Xing Tan }

  1. Grace June 20, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Thanks for an awesome blog. We plan to visit Taroko in January and your blog is really useful. I have few questions, really appreciate your advice:
    – From the map, it appears that Cingjing is quite close to Taroko/Hualien. Why don’t you go directly but instead via Taipei?
    – Is Taroko doable as day trip from Taipei without staying overnight in Hualien? I have two children so perhaps won’t do too much of the trails/ hiking anyway.
    – Did the you contact the cab driver for Taroko via email? Can he speak English? Does he charge by hours?

    1. Vin June 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Grace,
      Thanks for your compliments!
      – Yes, that is one of the routes taken by visitors, but we chose not to due to safety reasons. We have read that the roads are treacherous and there were often news about rocks falling down.
      – Yes, I believe a one-day trip between Taipei and Hualien is possible, since we finished the required visiting (the natural places of interests) during daytime.
      – Our driver was recommended by the owners of our homestay ‘Hualien Bay’, so there was no need to contact him directly. We did communicate with the owners via email though. The driver, Mr Li An Sheng (李安生) does not speak much English and we conversed mainly in Mandarin. You may wish to check with the homestay owners if they can recommend an English-speaking driver.
      Have a safe and fun trip ahead!

      1. Grace June 21, 2015 at 7:17 am

        Thanks for the prompt reply. May I know if the return Taroko express train Taipei-Hualien covered by the 3 day pass as mentioned in Taiwan HSR website? The reason is we will do Taichung-Taipei HSR earlier. Thanks again.

        1. Vin June 23, 2015 at 8:48 am

          Hi Grace,
          I’m afraid I will be unable to answer you since things could have changed since we visited Taiwan three years ago. It would be best for you to check with the official contact at the HSR website.

  2. Selina Chong November 24, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I have plan to visit Taiwan next November with my family. We plan to go to Huelian but not sure how many days to stay in Huelian as we also plan to visit Toroko at the same time. Please advise.

    1. Vin November 25, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Hi Selina,
      For our case, one full day was sufficient for us, as you can see from our itinerary.
      Morning would be sufficient for a leisure tour at Taroko Gorge, as long as you have your own driver. There are much lesser crowd during weekday mornings too. We didn’t feel we were rushing through our itinerary at Hualien.

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