EXPLORING HUALIEN: TAROKO GORGE

EXPLORING HUALIEN: TAROKO GORGE

One of the most majestic places you can visit in Taiwan is the Taroko Gorge. As one of the nine national parks across Taiwan, this park is so large that it spans over various counties including Taichung, Nantou and Hualien.

For this trip, my friends and I decided to engage a driver via KLOOK and were surprised that we were upgraded from the five-seater vehicle to a nine-seater van. For just the four of us, this van was a real treat!

But back to the locations we visited across this national park. We started at Qingshui Cliff, followed by visits to the Shakadang Trail, Changuang Temple, the Swallow Grotto Yanzikou Trail, and Tunnel of Nine Turns.

Qingshui Cliff

One of the tallest peaks in this area is the Qingshui Cliff where it stands at 1,000m high. Its sharp drop into the sea makes the area picturesque as the clear blue water crashes into the shore. 

Shakadang Trail

Previously known as the “Mysterious Valley Trail”, this trail brings you through a clear path towards the majestic valley feel of the Taroko area. The path also has rocks on the side that show the rustic side to the area. It looks over a river that looks like pure jade. You can walk along the path that eventually leads to a small food area that sells wonderful Taiwanese sausages.

Changuang Temple

Our driver brought us to an area that led to the Changuang Temple but the 12 minute hike was a bit too much for me hence only two friends went up. This area is very quiet and if you enjoy visiting temples, this temple allows you to ring the bell as you say your wishes. It’s a nice walk past a suspension bridge so be sure to conquer your fear of heights!

Swallow Grotto Yanzikou Trail

This area is the most popular area as it cuts through the gorge and brings about many different views. It’d be good to borrow a helmet as this area is known to have some falling rocks! When walking through this trail, couldn’t help but marvel at how majestic this area is.  Our talented driver helped take the photo on the extreme right (it shows the shape of the island!).

Tunnel of Nine Turns

The Tunnel of Nine Turns is a scenic spot that’s very family-friendly. It has wide paths and is well-renovated. This area got its name not because it has nine turns but because it looks like the character ‘九’ which has a lot of turns – pretty unique name to me! This spot is great for a different view of the mountains too.

My friends and I spent about six hours in this area, and our driver brought us to a rest-stop for lunch mid-day.

Even if you’re not a fan of nature, I’d highly recommend visiting this place if you’re in Taiwan. Over here, you can’t help but see the beauty in nature.

It’s a(bao)t to get Bao-werful

It’s a(bao)t to get Bao-werful

If you’ve been to Hualien, you’ve probably heard of the famous 公正包子 (Gong Zheng Bao Zi). It’s so popular that it has a whopping 14,000 reviews on Google alone! I’ve tried out the buns on multiple occasions, and I had to try it again on a recent trip to Hualien. 

Unlike the Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) in Singapore refers to the hot soupy pork dumpling, Xiao Long Bao in Taiwan is just a pork bun. The hot soupy pork dumpling is called 小籠湯包 or Xiao Long Tang Bao in Taiwan. So imagine my horror when I first ordered the bun six years ago and got an entire tray of pork buns. 

But back to the Xiao Long Bao from 公正包子. The meat is rich and juicy, and each bun is served piping hot from the steamer. The skin is on the thicker side (see the top of the bun) but has a pleasant taste to it. It complements exceptionally well with the pork filling, which is a very well-compressed meatball. The sweet juices from the pork also make the filling moist and make the whole bun very tasty. 

Apart from the Xiao Long Bao, this shop also sells dumplings. Each dumpling’s filling is similar to the bun’s fillings but in a much smaller amount. The skin was also on the thicker side but was still really good. The garlic soy sauce is also a must-add when eating this! 

Interestingly, 公正包子 is next to a 周家蒸餃 (Zhou Jia Zheng Jiao), a shop that has almost an identical menu – same items, same price. 

I preferred the skin of the Xiao Long Bao from 周家蒸餃 as it was slightly thinner than the ones from 公正包子. However, in terms of taste, it was highly similar. The filling from 周家蒸餃 was also a little less compressed than the ones from 公正包子 and seemed to have a higher fat content – it was, therefore, a lot juicier. It also had more chives which gave it a sweet hint. The dumplings tasted the same to me – and the sauce was almost the same too! 

I know most people recommend 公正包子because it seems to be the longer-standing one, but I prefer 周家蒸餃because the buns are sweeter. The queue for the former is longer, so honestly choosing 周家增加also makes sense for me – the buns are nicer, and the queue’s shorter! 

Both shops are good so why not try them if you’re around this (Bao)werful area!  Each bun costs 5 NTD (SGD 0.24), and each tray of dumplings (10 pieces) costs 30 NTD (SGD 1.46) at both 公正包子 and 周家蒸餃。

Address

公正包子
No. 199-2, Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
Tel: 038342933
Hours: 08:00–20:00

周家蒸餃
No. 4-20 Gongzheng Street , Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
Tel: 03 835 0006
Hours: 00:00 – 23:59