Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Return to Taiwan Tour 2011 - On the Bus - Day 2

Tuesday - 8 November 2011..

A good night's sleep always helps refresh the body.  It was raining most of the night, but the split air conditioning kept the humidity in our rooms at a decent level.

We had scheduled our departure for early afternoon, allowing everyone time to enjoy the many sights of the village area.

Dawn brought scattered clouds, the rain showers had diminished.

After breakfast, we loaded our suitcases onto our bus and sent the driver on his way.  He would drive along Highway 9 southward, meeting us later in the afternoon at the Taroko Railroad Station. 

Some of you will wonder why the bus left without us. Where Highway 9 meets the mountains south of Yilan the highway begins to hug the coast line and mountains all the way south until you reach the Highway 8 intersection (see map below)  We were in the rainy season, and many mud and rock slides have occurred along that stretch of highway in the past, wiping out the road and taking many lives. 

We decided to take the train on this stretch of our journey to preclude any chance of trouble, and, the rail trip,  which would be a little over a hour long,  would let everyone experience a trip on one of Taiwan's Railroads.

Our group was on their own this morning, nothing scheduled,  and we scattered within the village area to explore and enjoy the many venues.  

There were many things here, click below, you'll get a good idea of what is available at the National Center for Traditional Arts Luodong in Yilan.

There was a museum, lots of retail shops with local area and Taiwan handicraft items as well as Do It Yourself (DIY) shops were you could make your own handicraft items if you cared to.  The hotel gave us chits to enter a number of these DIY shops.  If you were not interested in making your own, you could use the chit in trade for an item someone else had made and left with the shop.  This whole DIY thing was interesting, something that most of us would never take the time to do if we had a choice. 

By mid morning, school kids started to arrive in the village by the bus loads.  Most were middle school children, who are, at the age of being loud and anxious.  There was a lot of noise and movement throughout the grounds.  Most of our group just moseyed around and explored the many shops.

Because of my leg cast, I ended up at the Starbucks shop sitting most of the morning out, taking my time consuming a  couple of cups of coffee and the newest item on their menu, cranberry coffee cake.  Good cake.

I had to show you this Coke machine.  It's short!  I had never seen anything like it before.  The style is vaguely familiar though.  Not sure if you put coins in the machine, or you get your bottled drink from the little shop.  Notice the bottled drinks on the corner of the counter, Fanta Orange, Sprite and Coke.  Oh, on the end of the pink plastic rope looking thing, is a bottle opener.

About 12:00 noon or so, we loaded in taxi cabs and drove to the Luodong Railroad Station.  

We had reservations, so we proceeded directly to the tracks and took a bench seat waiting the arrival of our train.

 Track side, a few minutes later, our train would arrive on the track to my back. Photo looks northward. (From an old guy to a old guy with a cane)

Two or three trains passed by while we waited.  Here, one of the Express Trains blew past, probably traveling 50 mph or more, on it's way north.

Sure enough, right on time, the train pulled in.Everyone found their reserved chair, and relaxed in wide, comfortable seating.  

All Aboard!

It was a quiet, enjoyable ride. This car was so well insulated, it was hard to hear any noise outside.

This house is typical of this area along the coastal plain.  When buildings are constructed,. fill is trucked in and the old rice patties disappear.  Kind of like the farmland in the US, being overtaken by housing developments and shopping centers.

We had one stop after we boarded our train.  Then the train entered into a series of tunnels.  Some were miles long.  Occasionally, as we left a tunnel, you could see the Pacific Ocean, the tracks were really quite close to the water here.

Tickets Please!  Here is our Train Conductor verifies and punches every one's ticket, notice the darkened windows, we are inside one of the tunnels.

We're close to our destination stop.  All along this area are a number of Cement plants.  The one in the distance is huge.  It has it's own port to bring in sand and send out cement via ships.

A closer view of the BIG cement plant.  Gage the size of this plant by the electric tower, painted orange and white.  Next to the smoke stack, the electric tower is tiny!

Our stop, Taroko Station.  
Straight ahead, in this photo, between the mountain on the left and the mountain in the distance, is the river that runs down Taroko Gorge and just up to the right, empties into the Pacific Ocean.

At Taroko Station.  Passengers must walk down about 20 feet of stairs, then walk under the railroad tracks and walk back up 20 feet of steps to the station landing.  Our Tour Guide Twan, asked the Taroko Station personnel if there was a way across the tracks, they sent this young woman over to the platform.  She ran this elevator down to track level,  which allowed me to by-pass the underground stairway.  Kudos to the Taiwan Railroad Administration.  Thank you......

Inside the station, the platform we arrived on can be seen through the windows straight ahead.
Notice the time, 2:30 PM.  About an hour or so train ride for us.

Our bus was waiting outside the front door, just to the back of this photo.

We headed back north on Highway 9, across the river and into the mountains, passing through one tunnel before pulling over. 

We came out of this tunnel and pulled over here.

Here are photos of the area, all from this point.

It was sprinkling, you can see the low clouds up the coast.  Beautiful site.  Notice the highway winding along the mountain just up to the left, there is another tunnel (pink color) in the distance.

The beach just below our lookout, so tropical and green.  Beautiful....

Click on this photo for an easier read.

We got our photos, then got back on the bus and headed for Hualien.

Along a back road toward Hualien, we came upon an old grave yard, with hundreds of structures containing the deceased.  These seen here were typical of the hundreds that stretched along this road and in the acreage surroundings.

We passed the Air Force Base in Hualien.  They were holding some type of exercise, lots of military folks were set-up in areas of the fence line and runway area. We could only see over the fence in a few places, so it was impossible to say how large the exercise was.

We stopped at what we thought was another distillery.  Unfortunately, the plant was not open, so we looked around the store.  A few folks sampled the goods. Again?

Our next stop, an old Japanese Shinto Shrine in Hualien.

We departed the Shrine and headed to downtown Hualien for our evening dinner.  We ate at a dumpling restaurant and we consumed a few dozen wonderful dumplings along with an assortment of soups and other dishes.  

After dinner we headed for our hotel, with a stop at McDonald's to pick-up some desserts.

Our hotel rooms in Hualien, we slept here two nights.

The bath, very nice.

After we had checked-in, I believe all of us headed for the laundry, a couple of blocks away to take care of our wet and dirty clothes.

CLICK ON THE MAP, it will expand to fill you screen for better viewing, on the map your mouse pointer will turn into a magnifying glass.  Just click your mouse and the map will open into an even larger picture, extremely clear....

Off to bed......

Tomorrow, Day 3 of our tour,  a day filled with the indescribable beauty of Taroko Gorge.



titojohn said...

Kent, I'm really enjoying seeing the pictures and reading your commentary.

World Wanderer said...

Ditto here, Kent. We spent a couple of days in Luo Dong in 2009 visiting Lien's family, and I can't wait to get back to the island to visit with the family again in Taipei.

Taipei Signal Army said...


Trudging on with the bad wheel earns my respect.