Monday, July 24, 2017

2 Months in Taipei, Taiwan

Hello again! Because my time in Taiwan is coming to an end, I decided to travel a bit around the rest of the island. My perception of Taiwan before arriving was based off of my travels in China, so I was expecting Taiwan to be like one large city. However, upon arriving I soon found that not to be the case. Taiwan has a lot if different types of scenery, from beaches to mountains to forrest and cities. Taiwan is extremely cheap to travel around with respect to public transportation. Last weekend I traveled to Hualien (花連) via the normal train, not the high speed rail, for around $12. When the train seats are all booked, you are given the option to book a ticket with no seat, meaning you stand in the aisle or sit in between cars. We ended up standing on the way there, but the ride was relatively short (around 2 hours) and the scenery was breathtaking. Hualien is located on the east coast of Taiwan and the train was moving right along the coastline giving us a beautiful view of the ocean. The main attraction to Hualien is Taroko National Park, a park owned by the Taiwanese Aboriginal people. A friend and I rented scooters and drove through and around the park stopping along the way to hike and swim. I can honestly say that I have never seen clearer water than in this park. One of the trails lead us to crystal clear pools where we were able to swim and cool off. The park also had many temples and bell towers hidden away in the mountains which people could hike to. The next day we rode down the coast stopping along various beaches to swim and enjoy the scenery. Hualien wasn't what I was expecting, but ended up being 100 times better than what I expected. I have to say it is one of the most beautiful places that I've been to. 
Swimming in Taroko
Qingshui cliffs (清水斷崖)
Beaches along the coast

This past weekend I traveled down to Kaohsiung (高雄市) a city located in the south of Taiwan, a 5 hour train ride from Taipei. Again, I was blown away by how beautiful the scenery was. On our first day we traveled to Fu Guang Shan (佛光山) which is a Buddhist monastery, and one of the 3 places in the world to house one of the Buddha's teeth. The place was stunning and surprisingly empty for a popular tourist destination. We also visited lotus pond, which has over 42 different temples surrounding it; being able to see the differences in the places where different religions worship was very interesting. The next day we took a bus to Kenting National Park (墾丁) about a 2 hour journey from Kaohsiung. We ended up renting a scooter and driving around the park which was stunning; the view of the ocean from the cliffs was amazing. Around these areas I definitely used my Chinese more than I did in Taipei. Here people don't know English as well so being able to communicate in Chinese was a very proud moment for me. I know all my hard work is getting put to use!

 Fu Guang Shan (佛光山)
Dragon and Tiger Pagoda on Lotus Pond
Kenting National Park

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