I begin my first travel post exactly one month before take off. It seems like every year I go through a cycle. I visit Taiwan in July. August I come home and I go through withdrawals, missing the convenience of living in Taipei, reminiscing the night markets, forgetting about the mosquitoes and humidity. By September, other things distract me. School starts and I am swept back into the stress of classes. Then January and February hit. Chinese New Year. I miss Taiwan again. By March I am daydreaming about shopping in Ximending and eating dumplings. In April I talk to my cousins and make plans as I watch Anthony Bourdain explore Taipei. It's May now. Time for the downfall. As the departure date approaches I panic. I'd much rather stay here. I'll miss out on so much! What if it isn't as fun as it used to be? Perhaps, I thought, reliving the good memories will pump me up. So I'll begin with a trip within a trip from July 2012.
Hualien is located on the eastern coast of Taiwan, south of Yilan and north of Taitung. Hualien is the largest county geographically, but also one of the more rural ones. It is well known for the beautiful natural scenery in the mountains and along the coast. It is also home to several aboriginal tribes, all rich with culture. In terms of food they are known for lots of seafood dishes (as is the rest of the island) and certain types of mochi. It is usually pretty obvious what the "local delicacy" of each town in Taiwan is, as there will be an abundance of specialty stores selling it. Of course, usually the best and most authentic version will be at a tiny, less glamorous shop known to locals. It's always a safe bet to ask the taxi drivers where to go!
stop 1: CIsingtan
stop 2: Taroko national park
stop 3: (random) jade shop
stop 1: random, but pretty neighborhood
stop 2: wood museum/factory..thing
STOP 3: a trail in the mountains
We didn't end up taking the trail, but the old couple living there had a nice chat about the fact that I did not have blonde hair. Apparently the old lady was confused as to why I looked Asian if I was born and raised in America.