We wanted to make it up to Taitung and stay there for a night before continuing up the coast. We had a bit of difficulty getting out of Hengchun as we were standing on the wrong side of the road (my fault) but once we realised our mistake it was no problem. We were picked up by a old man in a van that was transporting another van to Taitung. We managed to squash ourselves into the front seat and off we went! It took a while due to the heavy load and he must have realised that we were hungry as he dropped us at the McDonalds in Taitung. Good man.
Our night in Taitung was spent doing one of the boring things that no-one talks about whilst travelling – laundry. We met this crazy kid in the laundrette who would not leave us alone and wanted us to play games with us all the time. Eventually, we submitted and here is a photo of me using my Go-Pro selfie stick as a light saver against him. Look at the enjoyment in his face.
Not far from Taitung was a small town called Doulan. The town was quite hippyish and had made a name for itself through foreign backpackers passing through the town and deciding to stay there. We easily hitched a ride to Doulan thanks to hitch-hiking signs in Chinese that our hostel had made for us. We stayed in Doulan for a few hours and hiked up to the top of a small mountain that provided views over Doulan and the coast.
The highlight of the morning was the not the views but the trek down when Nicole screamed as she thought she saw a lion in the long grass which actually turned out to be a cow. Apparently, lions have learnt to swim and made it all the way to Taiwan in Nicole’s brain! Doulan is also home to an old sugar factory that is now closed but has been transformed into a live music venue of a weekend.
We hitched a ride out of Doulan and got dropped off at our next destination, Sanxiantai, which is home to three huge rocks that have been connected by an eight cross-sea arch bridge designed in the shape of waves.
We thought we may struggle hitch-hiking out of Sanxiantai as there is literally nothing there but this bridge and we were nowhere near a main road. However, as soon as we put our sign up for Hualien we were picked up by a car leaving the car park. The man and woman inside the car could not speak any English but called their son who assured us that they were safe and nice people and would drop us all the way up the coast to Hualien. The views up the coast to were amazing as we passed the jagged coastline and drove through mountains.
They also kept their promise and dropped us in Hualien and also provided us with numerous taiwanese snacks and bottles of water and wanted to take a few selfies with us after we got out of the car!
Our last stop in Taiwan was the town of Hualien which is the starting point for Taroko National Park. We signed up to a tour and spent a day exploring the various rock formations, marble-walled canyons and huge gorges. We were now accustomed to amazing views and scenery in Taiwan but Taroko really was the cherry on top of the Taiwanese cake (which I would also probably eat)!
Taiwan is a hidden gem in many ways as it is not really on the backpacking route. However, it really is home to some of the most varied landscapes and as you can tell the food is bloody amazing. We only had 2 weeks and managed to do a round trip of the whole island but we could have definitely explored more if we had a bit longer. You can check out our Taiwan highlights by viewing our Youtube video below and also read about Part one of of trip here – Two weeks in Taiwan (Part 1 – Taipei to Kenting)!