Yesterday, on our way home from a vacation in Hualien, Floyd and I drove through beautiful Taroko National Park.  Known as the Grand Canyon of Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is one of the top vacation spots in Taiwan.

We had been there before when my parents came to visit a couple years ago (you can see pictures of that in my other blog post here), but we didn’t really get to go hiking at that time, because there had been an earthquake a few days before and almost all the trails were closed off due to landslides.  

We didn’t have as much time on this trip, but we did park the car and walk around a little in an area that had been inaccessible the last time.  It was nice to see some scenery we hadn’t seen before, even though it was mostly just from the side of the road.

This area is called Swallow Grotto because of the many swallows that make their homes in the holes in the rock.  You can read an explanation of how the holes were formed in the sign below.

The day was overcast and the lighting wasn’t the best, so unfortunately a lot of my pictures didn’t turn out all that great.  The gorge was a lot more impressive in real life, but hopefully you can at least get an idea of how beautiful Taroko is!

It would have been fun to actually hike along one of the trails, but we were short on time and we would have had to buy a permit to do so anyway.  So we contented ourselves with walking along next to the road.  There were sharp drop-offs just to our left, with sheer cliffs stretching down to the canyon floor hundreds of feet below.

Warning signs were everywhere.  The national park service wasn’t leaving anything to chance!  We didn’t have safety helmets, which we would have had to borrow in another part of the national park (most of the tourists we saw did), but fortunately there weren’t any rockfalls while we were in the area.  🙂

It’s hard to get a clear idea of the scale just by looking at a picture, but some of those boulders in the river bed are the size of buildings!


In many places, the road passed through tunnels, often narrowing down to one lane to squeeze through.  This made our journey home much more exciting!  Many of the tunnels were too long or curved to see the other end when we went in.  We just had to pray there would be no cars coming from the other direction before we made it through!

Sometimes a roof had been built over the road (as you can see on the left) to protect it from rockfalls, which are extremely common in this earthquake-prone destination for typhoons.

The drive home to Taichung took about six hours, and much of the way we were surrounded by beautiful scenery like this.  Some of those mountain curves did get a little scary when the thick fog rolled in (especially when oncoming vehicles didn’t always keep to their side of the road), but God answered our prayers for safety and we made it back without incident.  

We even saw two monkeys, one crossing the road ahead of us in the gorge, one sitting by the side of the road further on, though unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to take any pictures of them.  

The gorge-ous drive was a fitting end to a fun Hualien vacation!

On the way back, we passed Cingjing Farm, a sheep ranch up in the mountains which I had visited years ago.  It was a rainy holiday weekend, complete with hordes of umbrella-toting tourists, just as it had been back then.  We didn’t stop this time, but you can click here to read my blog post about my first visit to the sheep farm.
For pictures and descriptions from earlier on in this vacation, take a look at my blog posts on Farglory Ocean Park here and Yehliu Geopark here.

Yesterday Floyd and I and our friends Mark and Michelle enjoyed a trip to a theme park not far from their home in Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast.

 The entrance fee was just 890 NT (less than $30).  It was definitely worth it, even though Farglory Ocean Park is the kind of place you can do thoroughly in about six hours.
It’s literally right by the ocean, and though it’s not a water park (i.e. no waterslides), the whole place has an ocean/watery theme.

It’s built on a hill, but there are escalators and elevators all over – not to mention the cable cars – so it’s easy to get around.

There were some great views from the cable car that we rode from the bottom to the top of the park (and back… several times…).

There were some fun-looking little rides in the children’s section of the park. Farglory is very family friendly!  
I loved that there were no lines to speak of anywhere in the park!  It was a Monday, and hardly anyone was there.
Floyd described the bumper boats as “a little cheesy”, but we had fun on them anyway.
There aren’t a lot of rides, but the ones they have are pretty good.

The log ride (above) was our favorite.  The log boats even went down one of the drops backward!

Can you tell it rained part of the time?  Fortunately, Farglory Ocean Park has roofs over a lot of sections, and many of the attractions are indoors (which also helped in the morning when it was warm and very sunny).  It’s the kind of place where you can have fun no matter the weather.
Rides aren’t the only attraction at Farglory.  They have a very nice little aquarium with an interesting variety of sea creatures.
Um… what kind of lobster did you say that was?
We enjoyed seeing some of the unusual creatures.  I don’t know if blue lobsters are really that rare, but it was our first encounter with one.
Lionfish always look exciting.
The shows, along with the aquarium, really made the park experience.  (The rides, though fun, were too few to be worth the entry fee on their own.)  We enjoyed the sea lion show first.
It was fun to watch the sea lions play volleyball and basketball!

Tell me that cute sea lion (below) doesn’t remind you of a bird in this position!

After watching the sea lions, we attended a dolphin show.
Their jumping skills were quite impressive!
My favorite show involved Russian dancers with some amazing skills and gorgeous costumes.  Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed in that one, but if you ever go to Farglory, make sure you don’t miss it!
Altogether we had a great day and made some fun memories.  If you’re looking for interesting activities for the whole family in Hualien, I highly recommend Farglory Ocean Park!