BootsnAll Travel Network

Taroko Gorge, sort of… + Taiwan rail

So the plan was, go to Taroko Gorge Nat’l Park today. Seemed easy enough, loads of buses going there and plenty of trails once you got there. Or so I thought. Stopped at the tourist office and enquired about bus times and was told that there weren’t any today b/c there was a festival in the park. They had a free shuttle from a nearby town (why the hell they picked this place I have no clue) to the festival which was by the welcome center just inside the park. So I take a train to the nearby town, get on the shuttle bus which takes me to the park. My thought was I’d just ditch the festival and go hike, then show up back at the bus area when they started shuttling people back to the station. Brilliant eh? Well it would’ve been, except that after walking the 1km to the trail head I found the gate locked and do net enter signs there. So they basically close the vast majority of the park to the public to have a music festival. Awesome. So I took some pictures around the trail head area, really nice and I’m sure the trail is stunning!


Back to the festival area since there was nothing else to do, it was classical music (at least the bit I saw) and they played part of Beethovens 6th symphony (it sounds the same in Mandarin!! ;) but all in all the event was uninspiring. They seemed to want to talk more than play music for the most part. Great setting for a festival though, Muse should play there or something…

Now we come to the exasperating part of the day. I’m calling it the Port Bou experience (anyone who has gone from France to Spain via train on the Med. coast will know what I’m talking about).After the music festival is over, everyone lines up for the buses. All very orderly and they have enough buses for everyone.(!!!!) Once we arrive at the train station though, the major flaw (or flaws) in the organization of this event (and the Taiwan rail system) were exposed. The event was over at 16:00. A train departed to Hualien (the major town in the area, where I was staying and almost everyone else came from) @ 15:54. About 10 minutes before all the buses arrived there. Next train? Not until 17:05. (with their completely illogical schedules here) No extra train to get all these people home, just one train would’ve been enough, instead everyone is forced to stand at the station (which is tiny with precious little seating) for an hour. I was hoping for some kind of riot with some looting but it wasn’t to be…

One Taiwanese guy (around my age) came over at some point, introduced himself in English and started talking to me which did lighten the mood. The younger generation of Taiwanese are so friendly and usually speak at least some English.

That basically sums up the transport (HSR excepted) in Taiwan, at least my experience with it. The train schedules make no sense, and getting anywhere takes far longer than it should. I ended up getting royally screwed with my train back to Taipei for tomorrow morning. My flight to Hong Kong is around 2pm, fast trains from here take aprox 2 hours and I have to leave at 5:40am. The 6:15am train was full, and there are no trains after 6:15 that would get me to Taipei in time. I’m trying to get from a major city on the Northern East coast to Taipei.

Seriously, wtf?

Fed up with trains, I spent the evening checking out the town centre area of Hualien, it’s pretty happening. I had some stir fried ostrich for dinner and some bubble tea afterwords which greatly improved my mood. Now I’m off to bed, tomorrow’s gonna be a long day. I’ll be in transit for 12 hours in all, woohoo!

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One response to “Taroko Gorge, sort of… + Taiwan rail”

  1. Alex Kaminski says:

    Wow, sounds like fun man, no wonder I hate public transit, lol. Buy me some blue label! Fo real man, it would be great. The new Oasis cd is really good. To bad about that park, I’m sure their will be more, if not, than that’s just real messed up.

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