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Around Taiwan – Hualien and the Dragon Boat Festival

Around 900km traveled by car, train, scooter, and paddle boat last weekend! hualien1

On Friday night Zoe picked me up at work and we drove directly to Luodong, about an hour (car time) southeast from Taipei. There we dropped off her car and took the High Speed Rail (HSR) to Hualien, about an hour (HSR time) south, on the coast of Taiwan. hualien5hualien6hualien7

Her dad picked us up, we dropped off our stuff and off we went to the night market for some late night food. I ordered a spicy sausage, some skewered grilled meats, and a delicious fresh mango and strawberry juice. By the time we were done eating and ready for bed it was nearly 1am.

The next morning we woke up early and grabbed breakfast at a local breakfast shop and we started our adventure for the day. The place was packed with people queuing out the door and onto the street. hualien2hualien3hualien4

Breakfast was noodles with a thin meat sauce and an egg and bacon omelette rolled in a thin rice paper.

We drove south to meet up with a few of Zoe’s friends for some beach fun. On the way we stopped at a few places to check out the waves and the scenery. The east coast is amazingly beautiful. Most of the drive was on the coast but it went inland for a few kilometers and we drove through the mountains and hills. It reminded me of Costa Rica quite a bit. And parts of Baja when driving down the coast. IMAG9629aldaIMAG9631IMAG9632IMAG9634IMAG9635

A bit more sightseeing along the way.
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The nicest camping places I’ve ever seen. All of the areas where you pitch tents are covered and on a wooden platform a few inches off the ground, with lights and electricity. And look at that view!

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Remember kids, no bombing of fish.imag967527 imag967628 imag967714

We reached the Tropic of Cancer!imag968115IMG_7828

One last beach.
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A few hours later we met up with Zoe’s friends in a small town where we had lunch: beed noodles!hualien9

After lunch it was time to hit up the beach. Zoe and her friends were body surfing and asked if I wanted to rent a surfboard. For half a day (no hours stated, just surf as long as you want) rental with surfboard racks included it was only$300NT ($10USD).

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The beach we went to was split in 2 by a river, we entered through the south and I ended up paddling out to the north area where the waves were a bit bigger and there were a few surfers already there. I’ve never been to a rocky beach, and by rocky I mean giant rocks and painful small sharp rocks. Trying to get into the water was a bit of an ordeal as I tried to maneuver the board on my hip while trying to not fall on the jagged rocks as waves slammed on my shins on the way in.

Once I was out catching a few waves I recognized one of the girls out surfing. She was the one who I’d rented the board from. I wondered who was manning the shop.

The waves were teeny and fun but too soft, no real power behind them. I still enjoyed my time out there. I haven’t surfed on so many different boards and on such different style of waves in a really long time. I’m kind of sad that I didn’t take advantage of the surfboard and the beaches I had back in San Diego.

The hardest part after surfing was actually getting out. Trying to walk on land after a few hours out on the water is hard enough. Trying to walk on crazy rocks that are trying to maul the soft fleshy parts of your sole is torture. It took me longer to walk down toward where everyone was than if I’d gone back into the water and paddled over.hualien11

After surfing we dropped off the surfboard, people changed and we were back on the roadheading to Taitung. I also received my answer to who was manning the surfboard rental place: no one.

In Taitung we had dinner: clams with ginger, shrimp and pork dumplings, fried rice, some other veggies and what I would like to call a tofu and vegetable fajita (I just needed some tortillas and I would have been set!). hualien8

And then headed over to a large park where we bought tickets to check out a music show by some of the aboriginal people in the area. It was a combination of traditional musicians peppered with Bob Dylan covers, soul, and rock.IMAG970816IMAG970615

Loading up on some iced coffee and snacks for the ride back.IMAG972414

After the show we drove back up to where we’d surfed, picked up Zoe’s car and drove 2 hours back to Hualien. A long and eventful day. One of my favorites.

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