Tourist Tuesday is here once again. Time to take a look at your own home stomping grounds with the eyes of a tourist. Today’s trip is a guest post by a friend and fellow Wordsmither, Jennifer Chow. All photo credits featured here belong to here as well.
Jennifer Chow writes Asian-American fiction with a geriatric twist. She traveled most recently to Taiwan in January 2012. She has also visited China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. Her blog serves up her words and her culture in a written delicacy at JenniferJChow.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
The 228 Legacy~A Novel published by Martin Sisters Publishing is now available in both print and ebook editions! Follow Jennifer on Goodreads & Add Legacy to your shelf.
Hualien: A Taiwan Oasis
Hualien lies in eastern Taiwan, on a strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Central Mountain Range. Requiring either a two-hour train trip or a thirty-minute plane ride, it is located 144 miles away from the bustling capital city of Taipei.
In the beginning of this year, I explored Hualien’s many charms. The place immerses you in nature. While there, I woke up every morning to the crow of a real-life rooster. The city’s name in reverse (lien hua) means lotus blossom, and Hualien evokes the same floral beauty and tranquility. Surrounded by lush green landscapes, it provides an oasis in the middle of the modern busy island of Taiwan.
- Rose marble: Hualien produces beautiful rose marble, extracted from the nearby mountains. The hues in rose marble range from a light conch shell pink to a dusky rose. Varying striations run through these pink stones, making each rock piece unique. The marble can be sold alone or incorporated into lovely landscape displays or whittled into smaller pieces to wear as pendants.
- Straw art: On a side street off a main road, I encountered a burst of vibrant color. A straight dirt pathway ran alongside a series of simple tables, each holding a miniature diorama of ancient life, including outdoor market scenes and rice planting activities. The main portion of the area, though, boasted a winding flower maze covered in a riot of blossoms. It seemed like a popular place for field trips, as I saw a teacher leading her group of students to the spot and taking pictures of them. At the end of the blossom trail, I stumbled onto a giant dragon made from straw.
- Mochi: Hualien is known for these popular glutinous rice desserts. After biting into the tender and chewy exterior, the sweet filling inside will delight your taste buds. Flavors can include peanut, black sesame, red bean, and green tea. Sometimes vendors also place fruit inside the dessert (my favorite is strawberry). Fresh-made mochi lasts only a couple of days, but pre-packaged ones are available for souvenirs and last a lot longer.
- Lichuan Aquarium: This fish hatchery combined with a restaurant offers succulent seafood. The tender fish they served practically melted in my mouth. A stone’s throw away from the restaurant is a tiny aquarium with informational glass cases and an open viewing tank with seats, where I assume lectures can be given. I also took a walk around the vast amount of greenery and fountains that decorate the grounds. If you want, you can even feed the carp swimming in the pond. Lichuan is also the home of the golden clam, and their store sells clam products which improve the health (liver function) and provide beauty benefits (clear skin).
- Moon House Restaurant: Nestled on the top of a mountain, this place exuded serenity. I arrived in the evening, so it gave off an even quieter feel. Inside the dining room, tall glass windows looked out into the night sky and onto the nearby vista. The dishes were served hot and fresh, including some local vegetables grown only in that region. I highly recommend the plum chicken there, an oven-roasted local delicacy served with homemade plum sauce. English reviews of the restaurant can be found here.
- Taroko Gorge: The gorge is an impressive 12-mile long canyon. Its name means “magnificent and splendid” in the language of Truku, an aboriginal tribe that lives in the region. I took one of its many hiking trails and soon understood the reason for its name after seeing the breathtaking beauty of the area.
- Lin Tian Shan: This old logging town preserves the history of its past loggers, and the railroad tracks that provided wood to nearby cities still remain on site. Lin Tian Shan also houses exhibitions from local artists who create fabulous carved wooden sculptures. Some of the artworks depicted nature scenes or showcased the hard-working timber life, while others sprang solely from the imagination of the carver’s mind.
Thanks for taking this virtual trip down memory lane with me. What would you do in Hualien if you had the chance?