Taitung 台東 — Day 11 ...

Heading north along the 台11線 to Dulan (都蘭)
It was another early morning start to beat the heat of the day. I was off to hike the Dulan Mountain Trail. (都蘭山)

The hike itself is 3.8KM and took six hours to complete. It's a very steep climb and was extremely rough on the knees on the return.

The lush jungle greenery was wonderful but there were many encounters with poisonous wasps and other little, creepy crawlers. I spent most of my walk with a small towel over my head as wasps kept encircling me. I trekked on though, determined to reach the 1190m peak.

The hike offers very little in the way of views as one is deep in the forest for the majority of the trek

The first of two huge snakes along the trail
The stress that came along with encountering snakes was massive. This was the first of two and it happened to be sitting directly on the walking path. We stared at each for some time before I backtracked looking for a stick to scare it. I eventually got it to move off the path (it took its sweet time) and then I quickly moved past the area.

It wasn't too much further along that I ran into snake number two. Snake number two was lurking in some small plants beside the walking path. This snake was coiled with its head and neck in an upward position. Its eyes stared into me, daring me to cross its path. I let out a small yelp before hurrying back in fear hoping that the first snake hadn't returned to its place on the walking trail. What a nightmare!

After some time, I crept my way back but snake number two was in the exact same position and eyeing me down. We stared at each other for an eternity and in the end, the snake won the battle. I wasn't going to take a chance being alone and apparently having zero service on my phone. I made my way back in disappointment of not being able to complete the hike.

I descended about fifteen minutes before running into two hikers with walking poles. We spoke for awhile and I told them about the snakes. I asked them if I could join them and they agreed so back up the mountain trail I went. The walk was a great lesson in Chinese as neither of my new walking partners spoke any English.

Sign of completion
The trail was tough, the jungle was dense and I was thankful to have two others to complete the expedition with. At the top was this sign only and after all that hard work and stress, I was hoping for a wonderful viewpoint. I was ecstatic to reach the top but also left with a feeling of disappointment at the lack of scenery. All in all, an excellent workout. Next time, leave the DSLR at home!

Taitung 台東 — Day 10 ...

First stop: Beinan Cultural Park (卑南文化公園) — closed for renovations (Reopens: July 31st, 2015)

Second stop: Liyu (Carp) Mountain Park (鯉魚山公園) — overlooking the city of Taitung

A different view from another wonderful city park — Liyu (Carp) Mountain Park

Third stop: The Taitung Art Museum (台東美術館) — free of charge

Taitung 台東 — Day 9 ...

Road trip route showing in blue
Northern Taiwan was closed because of a passing typhoon so I headed south of Taitung along the 台9線 hoping for good weather. I set out in the wee hours of the morning to find some hiking trails in the tiny fishing town of Dawu. (大武)

Dawu is a cute seaside town with interesting art on its structures. The number of butterflies was astonishing. Never have I seen anything like it.

Here is some information in English as to why they are there, though it's not even close to winter: Purple Butterfly Valley

The waves were quite high and it seemed like they wanted to come crashing over onto the highway

Dawu has some super cute housing and a lot of the structures are painted with colorful pictures

Overlooking the tiny town of Dawu from one of the hiking trails

Butterflies, butterflies and more butterflies

Taitung 台東 — Day 8 continued ...

The beautiful Liji Badlands (利吉惡地)

Looking over the East Rift Valley from the Fuyuan Community Observation Deck (富源社區景觀平台)

Another viewpoint from the Fuyuan Community Observation Deck

Very high waves at Little Yehliu (小野柳)

Taitung 台東 — Day 8 ...

Day 8 Road Trip — route marked in blue
Day 7 was wet with the passing of a tropical storm. I spent the day indoors with movies, a book and beers.

I woke up to beautiful blue skies on day 8 which encouraged me to depart early for a day on the road!

I was off to find the Little Yellow Mountain and the Liji Badlands, both located in the wonderful East Rift Valley.

Missed the turnoff for 小黃山 Little Yellow Mountain and found this nice lookout spot

Enjoying the scenery in the early morning hours

小黃山 Little Yellow Mountain up close and personal — incredible

Taitung 台東 — Day 6 ...

Taitung Forest Park map
The impressive Taitung Forest Park (台東森林公園) is located on the outskirts of the city. The park is full of lush greenery and lakes and sits beside the ocean. Plenty of bicycles are available for rent at NT$100/3 hours.

The typhoon had yet to arrive, so I got up early and headed to the park at 7am to beat the heat of the day and the rain that was most likely to start in the afternoon. I biked around for 2.5 hours and managed to see the whole park. It is incredible and a must see if you are in Taitung!

Egret Lake (鷺鷥湖) 

Flowing Lake (活水湖) with Mt. Dulan (都蘭山) in the distance (climbed it!)

The lush greenery along the bike paths was stunning and the smells were amazing

Taitung 台東 — Day 5 ...

台東縣立游泳池 (Taitung County Swimming Pool)
Land and sea warnings were issued for the three incoming typhoons. I had plans to go to Green Island (錄島) the following day but all boats and planes were canceled. I was a bit bummed. The weather wasn't great, so I found the local pool and went for a swim. I was the only one in the water. The facility is very old but cheap. NT$55. Hours: 9-11, 2-5 and 6-9.

At the Seashore Park watching the waves and looking at Green Island in the distance (far left)

Walking over to another section of the Seashore Park (海濱公園) to watch the sunset

Paposogan, also called the Seashore Park (海濱公園) in Taitung (台東)

Taitung 台東 — Day 4 ...

First balloon up at 6:11am — the day was windy and not many balloons got up that day

A lady won a free hot air balloon ride — the only one flying that day

The launch of this hot air balloon was unsuccessful — the last one of the morning

Overlooking the East Rift Valley (paragliding area)
The 2015 Taiwan International Balloon Festival was a fifty minute drive from where I was staying. The festival runs from 5:30am - 7:30am and from 4pm - 7pm and is free of charge if you're on a scooter.

I went early morning but the day was windy and not much was happening. It was a bit disappointing. I was hoping to go back before the end of my trip. The scooter ride through the mountains to get to the event was gorgeous and well worth it for that alone.

More information (in English) about the festival: click here

Taitung 台東 — Day 3

Blue route: my walk (four hours at a very leisurely pace)
The Zhiben National Forest Recreation Area (知本國家森林遊樂區) was a twenty-five minute drive from where I was staying. There are a number of trails that I completed in one day.

Entrance fee: NT$100 on weekends, NT$80 on weekdays.

Tons and tons of massive Banyan Trees can be seen along the forest walks

The forests were full of monkeys and Barking Deer, which were heard but not seen

The view from the highest platform in the park at 650m above sea level

Taitung 台東 — Day 2 ...

Map of my first road trip in Taitung
Sure enough, 老紅 was waiting for me in the morning. After picking her up, we headed out immediately making our way up the number eleven (台11線) where the ocean is on one side and mountains are on the other. It is an absolutely stunning drive!

Sanxiantai (三仙台) has been on my list of places to see for some time. It was unfortunate that the bridge was closed for repairs. There was no water under the bridge but there were signs telling one not to enter.

The Sanxiantai Bridge 三仙台 remains on my bucket list (reopens September 15th, 2015)

The Donghe Bridge 東河橋 in Donghe Township

Vegetarian pizza from the Dulan Diner
I stopped at many scenic points along the highway and by the time I reached Dulan (都蘭) I was fairly hungry. I saw a sign for the Dulan Diner (都蘭食堂) and thought it would be a good place to eat. I ordered this pizza here and boy was it delicious. Vegetarian with all the veggies you could possibly imagine and a pesto/pine nut sauce. I also ordered an Indian Pale Ale which seemed to be brewed by this restaurant. The meal was a bit pricey at NT$520 (CAN$22) but it was so scrumptious! And leftovers!!!

Taitung 台東 — Day 1 ...

紅冠水雉田園民宿 — the place I stayed at for 18 days just outside of Taitung City

My room had two beds, a table with two chairs, a closet, a bathroom, a fridge, a kettle, two fans and A/C

My first day in Taitung, I was without 老紅, my scooter. She was being shipped to Taitung via train. It seemed that I was in the middle of the country and there wouldn't be much to do without wheels.

By 8am, the day was already blistering hot. I knew I would need food and decided to walk over to the 7-11 that I could see on Google Maps.

The blue route was my first attempt at getting to 7-11. This small country road led me to the highway via a path under a bridge. Under this bridge, there were a bunch of men that seemed to be living there along with hoards of barking stray dogs.

One of the men got on his scooter and drove beside me asking me where I was going and what I was doing, etc. I certainly was out of place. He kept looking me up and down and with only my phone and wallet in one hand, I was a bit intimidated. The men were speaking Taiwanese and laughing and I could only imagine what they were saying. The guy on the scooter eventually backed off and I came to a highway with a bridge.

The 7-11 was on the other side of this bridge and walking across it seemed unsafe. Below the bridge were train tracks that were fenced on either side, so I knew I couldn't get across to the 7-11 unless I walked over the bridge so back to the house and past the men I went. The one guy on the scooter started following me again asking me questions about where I was from and if I was married, etc. He left me alone fairly quickly but I did notice there was a police car parked under the bridge just up ahead.

The green route was my second attempt at getting to the 7-11 and although a bit longer, it was the correct way. I picked up things for breakfast, lunch and dinner and headed back to my new home. I spent the day doing some research on my iPad about where to go in Taitung and getting acquainted with the family's outdoor kitty. I also finished the book I was reading and started a new one. All in all it was a very relaxing way to spend the first day of vacation. I was ready to start exploring and hoped 老紅 would be waiting first thing the following morning.

A quick look at Smangus (司馬庫斯) ...

The church at Smangus

Some of the local kids playing near the church

The only school in the village has about twenty students