Gorging in Taroko, Taiwan

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

I’ve written before about my love for Taiwan, one of the few destinations that I’ve ever visited with few preconceptions or expectations.  I guess, if anything, I expected to find a lot of factories stamping “Made in Taiwan” on to plastic toys. Because I vaguely recall that the Barbie dolls I shaved and tattooed as a child  came from there and that Buzz Lightyear had it stamped on his wristband in Toy Story… That’s some serious research right there, people.

My bad.

Seriously, who knew about the tiny island’s high mountains, marble canyons, hot springs, super cool cities… and all that amazing food? Well, besides 23 and a bit million Taiwanese people and anyone who has ever bothered to visit?

What I wasn’t expecting, besides all that fabulousness, was to develop such an intense infatuation for the clean, green little island and the genuinely lovely people I encountered on my travels around it. I’m talking about you, gorgeous tour guide who we all fell head over heels in love with. And you, lovely waitress who surprised me with extra dishes once you realised I wasn’t a chicken-shit. And you, gorgeous children in Hualien who I played with for hours even though you clearly thought I was a giant red-headed buffoon.

 little girl at Hualien, Taiwan

And you, nice young couple who took time out to escort me where I needed to go when I got lost… even though you couldn’t speak a word of English and I couldn’t speak Taiwanese. And you too, weird friendly hipster dudes in a strange but cool bar in the arse-end of nowhere. And of course you, young Brad Pitt look-alike backpacker guy in random bar that I didn’t actually speak to but who I immensely enjoyed perving at… though technically you weren’t Taiwanese.

I told y’all about the food, which is incredible, here. I extolled the virtues of Taipei’s arsenal of kitsch, retina-searing and quite frankly ridiculous novelty restaurants here. And I even made you tofu the Taiwanese way here.

What I haven’t done is tell you about Taiwan’s amazing natural beauty.

Cimu Motherly Devotion Bridge Taroko Gorge, Tawian

And that is a massive oversight on my part for which I owe Taiwan my most humble of apologies. You see, though the entire island is only about half the size of Tasmania, the countryside is awash with sparkling lakes, deep valleys and lofty mountains, indulgent hot spring towns (another time), and the extraordinary Taroko Gorge.

The Liwu River cuts through Toroko gorge, Taiwan

In the Hualien province, on Taiwan’s east coast, a narrow road twists its way through 19 kilometres of marble chasm, past shrines and temples, across precarious ledges and coloured bridges that cross the Liwu River, whose erosive blue waters have been busily carving the gorge from marble over millions of years.

Colourful bridge over the Liwu River in Toroko Gorge

One of those shrines is the Changchun Eternal Spring Shrine, a beautiful memorial over a waterfall built to commemorate the 226 men who sadly lost their lives during the building of the highway.

Changchun Eternal Spring Shrine Taroko, Taiwan

As we continue into the canyon each turn of the road, and there are many,  reveals yet another stunning surprise that has my jaw dropping further and further until it’s practically scraping the canyon floor.

Cimu Motherly Devotion Bridge Taroko Gorge, Tawian

The name Taroko means magnificent in the language of the indigenous Truku tribe who reside in the area, and it is most definitely as advertised.

Shrine at Taroko, Taiwan

The National Park surrounding the gorge is also home to an astounding variety of wildlife including this fluffy and freakish bug who I grew quite fond of.

caterpillar in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

You may also find black bear, macaque, and some rather nasty looking wild boar. Luckily the only one of those we ran into was served as succulent ribs with wild native ferns at the indigenous Leader Village Taroko Resort – the perfect spot to suck up a little of Taroko’s magnificent serenity while we gorge ourselves, if you’ll pardon the pun, on lunch.

Lunch at Leader Hotel Taroko

12 Comments on Gorging in Taroko, Taiwan

  1. Kirralee @ Escape With Kids
    March 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm (9 years ago)

    Taiwan’s a bit overlooked isn’t it. I’ve never thought to visit. But that gorge is magnificent. I do love a bit a rugged natural beauty!

      March 26, 2015 at 8:40 pm (9 years ago)

      It’s one of my favourite places in the world! Great people, great food and so very beautiful!

  2. Malinda (@MBPaperPackages)
    March 26, 2015 at 8:56 pm (9 years ago)

    I never knew it was so beautiful. The definition is certainly fitting. You met so many lovely people on this trip, one that will stay with you forever I bet.
    Thanks for joining in my #wednesdaywanderlust link party

      April 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm (9 years ago)

      It’s an incredible place that I can’t speak highly enough of Malinda.

  3. stuntman
    March 27, 2015 at 12:28 pm (9 years ago)

    Wow! I had no idea Taiwan had all that going on. Thank you for showing me how awesome it looks.

      April 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm (9 years ago)

      It’s a special place that deserves far more attention from travellers.

  4. Amanda Kendle
    March 28, 2015 at 12:07 am (9 years ago)

    So beautiful – I had a trip out to Taroko Gorge too, and just loved it. I only had a week in Taiwan and am very keen to go back. And I was the same – the reason I went (apart from being very close to Japan, when I lived there) was just because I’d always thought of it as the place that everything was “made in”. But it’s SO much more!

      April 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm (9 years ago)

      It’s my “surprise” destination, Amanda. I never really had any expectations but it blew me away. CAn’t wait for a return visit.

  5. Fondos de pantalla
    April 2, 2015 at 6:05 am (9 years ago)

    Very beautiful landscapes. Oriental landscapes has something special

      April 2, 2015 at 8:20 pm (9 years ago)

      It’s sublime. 🙂

  6. Lydia C. Lee
    July 31, 2015 at 8:13 am (9 years ago)

    I’m kind of interested in Taiwan – mainly for the dumplings. But that scenery is charming….(Scoot flies there so that’s an appeal…)

  7. Christine
    January 16, 2016 at 9:57 pm (8 years ago)

    It looks stunning!


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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