We got an early start on Monday morning, since I had booked us a bike & hike tour with Rhiang Su at Taroko Lodge that started at 9:45. We took a cab to the same place we had ate the day previously (it was that good), and then another cab to Taipei Main Station. We could have easily taken the MRT, but it was raining and we were tight on time so didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
We caught the express train from Taipei to Hualien, and from Hualien took a cab to Xincheng station, where we were met by Rhiang’s son Jun. Jun’s parents own and operate Taroko Lodge, and also offer this bike rental. They pick you up in a van from the bus station with the bikes in tow and drive you up to the starting point in the gorge, about half hour drive, stopping first at 7-11 to pick up snacks. Unfortunately due to a lot of rain recently, about half of the trails were inaccesible because of rock slides.
Jun dropped us off at the Buluowan service station where we were able to learn a little about the native peoples that live in Taroko Gorge. They weave all their garments and a woman’s status is based on her ability to weave.
The trail head for Buluowan Upper Trail began close by to the service center, so we started with that trail. We were instructed to just leave our bikes at the trailheads, assured by Jun they would be safe.
Our plan was to hike the Shakadang Trail next, but due to a misreading of the map (oops) we ended up taking the wrong road and ended up at the Visitor Center. So we did some of the Dekalun Trail instead, which is accesible from the visitor center.
After climbing at least 500 steps on this trail, we were rewarded with some great views of the gorge, and some butterflies.
We took the main road from the bottom of the gorge through the (only?) main road in Xincheng back to Taroko Lodge. Rhiang drove us back to the train station, and along the way told us a little about the cement factory that was right by his lodge. He told us Taiwan makes very high quality cement, and the rock from the gorge, which contains a lot of marble, is no exception to his claim.
After a long train ride back to Taipei main station, where is was raining still, we grabbed some coffee at Bee Coffee in Songshan district. Charlie had found online that Taiwan is famous for their coffee, and this was one of the best places nearby in Taipei to go. If you’re looking for it, just look for an eccletic collection of teacups and drip machines lining shelves and you are there.