吉客鏈：自行車縱騎 X 古道健行 X 清水崖日出
Our overseas friends seem to appreciate Taiwan as an IT provider or semiconductor manufacturer, rather than a holiday destination. Actually both of those are significant highlights.
Big Data Storytelling - Hualien attracts the most visitors
Over the pandemic years, my data analytics office had less business. With more time so we contributed some efforts on CSR (corporate social responsibility). I started to provide the visualization of Taiwan’s tourism data. It is interesting to know the big picture of our beautiful island country’s attractions.
The story of the tourism data was that Hualien has been the most popular county for a number of years (see more here). In fact the beauty of Hualien has been discovered more by the local people while the border was closed during Covid period. The data tells that Hualien leisure attractions are the most relaxing and unique amongst all.
(Photo Credit | Ruby - Eurasian Plate meets Philippine Plate in Yuli, Hualien)
A Facetime Conversazione between Boston and Hsinzhu
May I introduce Richard’s sailing crew - Joost who is a Dutch - an outdoor activity enthusiast based in Boston. Jui is my cycling companion from Taipei, who is a semiconductor engineer based in Hsinzhu. We’ve all ever visited Hualien - myself in July 2013, Joost in Nov. 2019 and Jui in 2021 and 2022. I was so delighted to have Joost and Jui accepted my invitation for a conversazione via FaceTime between Boston and Hsinzhu.
We had a pleasant dining saloon to chat about Hualien. On the Boston side of dining table, there were Richard, Joost and me who also cooked Taiwanese cuisine on the Friday night. On the Hsinzhu side of dining table, there were Jui and Ruby who had their Saturday brunch of enjoying the Xiao Long Bao.
(Photo Credit | Chi Hsu)
Jui & Joost's Best Experiences in Hualien
In general, Hualien has 5 types of attractions to explore: the marble gorge landscape, the indigenous culture, the archeology site, some re-invented industrial buildings' place making, and the Japan-era colonial heritage.
During the conversazione, I learned of Jui and Joost's traveling experiences, and their discovery of Hualien's landscape. They enjoyed the outdoor activities! Jui and her friend, Ruby, attended a local cycling tour twice for exploring the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area (2021) and the Taroko National Park (2022). Joost as a foreign visitor, applied for the hiking permit into the Zhuilu Old Road (an ancient walking trial constructed by the indigenous people) of the Taroko National Park (2019).
Jui's Best Experience - Cycling
Jui visited Taroko National Park several times but cycling was best way to explore there, she said. She pointed out the international well-known cycling challenge: Taiwan's King of Mountain (KOM), since 2012, which starting point is Qixingtan (altitude 0) along the routes to Wuling Pass (3275 m). [Note 1]
However, she and other cyclists were all the beginners so she laughed about "We may not be able to cycle to Wuling, but we can take pictures in front of the gate of Taroko National Park, imagining we are on the same road towards the summit of Wuling."
(Photo Credit | Jui-Ping)
(Photo Credit | Ruby)
The previous cycling tour they attended was in Huatong Valley, which began from Guangfu, Hualien, along the designed bike path to Guanshan, surrounded by the rice field. She said you could see the golden ears of rice waving at you while cycling at the harvest season. There are two times of rice harvest, the late autumn is the best timing to ride as the weather considers more comfortable.
【2021】Jui and Ruby cycled along the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area
(Photo Credit | Ruby)
Joost's Best Experience - Hiking & Canyoning
Joost visited and looped Taiwan by train in 2019. (See more his journey here) He highlighted Hualien is the ultimate outdoor destination on the east coast (and one of the best in the country) - close to the famous Taroko gorge, harboring a mountain range very close to the ocean.
【2019】Joost had more explorations between gorge and water - hiking and canyoning in the Taroko National Park and around a night market in town.
(Photo Credit | Joost Groot)
My Best Experience - Sea Lion Kissing
I also visited Hualien but by easier traveling compared with my guests' trips!
【2013】My family kids' summer holidays - well, still half outdoor activities - chasing kids behind and taking photos with sea lion at the ocean park. Viewing the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
(Photo Credit | Chi Hsu)
Geographically, what's what
Here the mapping describes where we visited better. The fertile valley Jui and Ruby cycled that is lied between two mountain ranges - Central Mountain Range and Coastal Range, is called 'Huadong Valley'. It generates very unique cycling route with seeing profound mountain ranges on both sides.
Most of the township and population reside in the valley, which takes 7% of area. The remaining area is covered by rivers and mountains.
The most popular destination - Taroko National Park is located on the north area of Hualien, and the Ocean Park is located on the red circle, which is a very fun place for a family with little ones over long weekend.
(Source | Google map)
Our conversazione almost lasted 1.5 hours, Jui said that she and Ruby will schedule the 3rd time of cycling tour because the fertile rice field scenery is golden and beautiful. It is blessed places to be there in Hualien's autumn time. This idea made the Boston side of us very jealous.
We also discussed about Taiwan's island-looped cycling tour in which 9D8N tour Richard, Joost and Jui, Ruby are very interested to do so. I introduced "Taiwan on 2 wheels" on the other travelogue (see more here). Surely, I am keen to join and follow the cycling gang, with the e-bike!
This travelogue simply shared the landscape resource - the most natural attraction of Hualien. In Hualien's history, the indigenous people lived and Japanese ruled here. Some of the cultural preserved parks and place-making regeneration sites are well worth visiting, such as: railway, tobacco, sugar refinery etc.
The mysterious one is called 'Satokoay', which is like a miniature Stonehenge. The name means 'where the main house pillars are'.
As well as the relatively new industries including: farms and pastures and tea gardens.
[Note 1] I googled the KOM challenge's total distance: 105km, altitude from 0, sea level up to 3275 meters. The route mapping below: