Monday, February 5, 2018

Taiwan 6: My Train Ride to Xincheng/Taroko (18. Jan. '18)

This morning, I woke up in Taipei, but I will go to bed somewhere in Hualien County, on the East coast.
But before I go, I wanna see if I can get my flag.

I returned to Taipei Handicraft Promotion Center to try my luck again--without having the lights turned off on me. I knew that wasn't going to be a problem this time around.

Small purse postcards. What will they think of next?
Random creatively curious moment

The good news is I was able to browse the store calmly. The bad news was they didn't have a small Taiwanese flag. Meh, better luck elsewhere.

I need to eat before my 3+ hr. train ride. I returned to Taipei Main Station just for that (my train was going to leave from there, so I had to get there anyway).

I ended up getting a fish panini at a restaurant/cafe on the 2nd floor. It was ok, but I would have enjoyed the beef noodles on the 1st floor more. I had them the day before, so at least I can say I had beef noodles (excellent!).

As I ate my fish sandwich, I had this view.

Shew, I don't remember what else I ate. But I do remember the last thing I bought: a waffle pop!

Waffle pop options and price (USD 2.90).

Sorry for the abominable quality. I really wanted to start eating it.

The train leaving at 11:54 was my train.

Here are a little bit of the platform and 2 different trains you could see. The one on the left (the much older one) was mine.

Inside the train, just looking at everything.

Those headrests were too low for me. Surprise, surprise.

The leg room was more than what I was used to. I like.

The toilet at my train car. And yes, I used it successfully.

I made it!

A panorama from the platform. I'm definitely not in Taipei anymore.

Joann was here.

So I made it to the train station. Now it's time to get to my hostel. According to Google Maps, it was a 10 min. walk (about 1 km) from the station to the hostel. Beautiful! But I still needed to walk. After sitting for 3+ hrs, I think a stroll was in order.

Whoa, I knew this place was tropical, but I didn't think it'd be like this.

The road I walked down on to get to my hostel (taken looking back).

I was that close. They were that small.

My hostel: Taroko Susi Space
It may not look like a lot, but the staff (and cats) were super helpful! I'll explain more below.
Sketches of Taiwanese Aborigines.
I don't know much about Taiwan, much less of its aboriginals. I'd like to change that and maybe meet a few on future visits.

The 1st "staff member" to welcome me. Sorry, no food.

You natural model, you!

The man there barely spoke English (but was very kind and had a beautiful smile). However, he called a lady (whom I assumed worked there too) who spoke English very well. I explained my situation: I wanted to check out Taroko National Park, but I needed to walk the least amount possible. I had a train to catch at 12:10 at Hualien Station and I was traveling alone. What could I do?
They hired a driver for me. 

By the way, was I hungry? Heck yes!
Did I have any dietary restrictions? Yes, actually.
What were they? No pork and no seafood.
How about beef fried rice with some vegetable side? Heck yes!
The guy there was going to go and get dinner and order for me too. *stunned by hospitality.*
The dinner (and the breakfast arrangements) cost a total of TWD 185 (USD 6.33). I'll pay that gladly!

I thought I was going to go with the man, but he returned with the meal. I'm not sure which I did with more gusto, pay him or eat the dinner.
Let me add it was interesting eating beef fried rice, especially after all the Chinese-food experiences I've had in Korea that involved a menu of mostly pork. Did this happen to be an American-Chinese food restaurant?

Bus schedules between Hualien and Taroko National Park

This one tested the comfort of my bed.
Honestly, I had no idea this hostel had cats. Then to discover there were two! Man, I regretted staying there barely 1 night.
This white-tabby cat really liked my bed. I was in a six-bed (3 sets of bunk-beds) all girls room and this cat was in my bed. I don't mind. He didn't mind me being there either, as long as he had his space. Hey, it's not everyone that can assess the comfort of one's bed for you. How thoughtful.

I needed to call it a night. I had to be ready to leave the hostel at 6:00 in the morning if I was gonna go to Taroko. This was the 2nd reason I wanted to come to Taiwan. You could bet I was not going to miss this! I could always take a nap on the train or simply go to bed earlier the next evening. Problem solved.

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