TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—When I have four-day or longer vacations, eastern Taiwan is usually my first choice of domestic destinations, and there I went on a trip during the Tomb Sweeping Holiday, during which I visited two wonderful places in Hualien I had never set foot in before—Yuli and Ruisui townships.
I originally planned to take a train, but as train tickets to eastern Taiwan during long holidays are so difficult to get, I decided to drive.
I started driving around noon on April 5 and the traffic on National Highway No.5 and the Suhua Highway was surprisingly smooth after heavy congestion on April 4.
I stopped over at Nanao, Yilan for lunch and mulberry shaved ice. I also picked up a few jars of pickled peeled chili peppers and had wasabi ice cream at Hualien Tourism Sugar Factory in Guangfu Township on my way to the hotel in downtown Yuli where I had booked to stay for two nights. It must have been past 9:30 p.m. when I arrived at the hotel.
The next morning, I woke up to see high verdant mountains to the west of the township and marveled at the beauty of the small town. I had my breakfast at a popular Yuli Noodle eatery, where customers were already lining up around 9 a.m. I had a bowl of noodle soup and it tasted so delicious.
After having breakfast, I began driving on Provincial Highway No. 30 to the highway’s starting point, where the entrance to the Walami Trail (瓦拉米步道) is located. The trail is located within the eastern boundary of the Yushan National Park about 10 km southwest of Yuli’s downtown area. The total length of the trail is 13.6 km, and the first 4.5 km of the trail to Jiaxin is open to members of the public who didn't apply for any permits. It is an ideal choice for a half-day or full-day tour. The section of the trail is suitable for everybody as it is quite flat and shaded by tall trees along the path .
Jiaxin is a popular campground as there is a flat land with running water and toilets,. I saw at least 10 tents when I got there.
The section past Jiaxin requires both the Mountain Entry Permit and Taiwan National Park Permit. At the end of the trail, there is a mountain cabin that requires online reservation ahead of time.
The Walami Trail was built along the mountainsides of the Lakulaku River valley and belongs to the eastern section of the cross-island Batongguan Historic Trail built during the Japanese colonial period to control Bunun Tribe and exploit the natural resources in Taiwan.
After about four hours of walking on the rock-based trail, enjoying the views of the waterfalls, the dense forests and the valley below, I was satisfied to leave this place behind for a relaxing dip in hot spring.
I headed to An Tong Hot Spring (安通溫泉) in the south of Yuli by driving southbound on Provincial Highway No. 9 and following a sign at an intersection that tells me to turn left. An Tong Hot Spring is just about seven kilometers from downtown Yuli, and there are several hot spring operators in the area. I surveyed some facilities but finally chose Lucky Spring B&B (吉祥溫泉民宿). I was pleased with my choice because I found it great value for money.
Lucky Spring B&B (吉祥溫泉民宿)
The next morning I went northbound on Provincial Highway No. 9 and took a right turn at Ruisui to reach Xiuguluan River Visitor Center, which is the main point of departure for well-known river-rafting activities along the Xiuguluan River. It was slightly cold on April 7 and the rafting operator had every participant wear a wet suit.
Xiuguluan River Visitor Center
A total of about 80 people joined the rafting trip on that morning, and I was grouped with seven strangers, including two children, on the same raft. The operator announced that the water level was low on that day, and cautioned that the rafting journey would be incident prone. A total of about 10 rafts went down the river one by one in the late morning. As the rafting tour was rife with young playful people, water spattering wars broke out not long after the start. They began to spatter water with the oars on people on other rafts whenever rafts were close to each other enough.
Some rafts were grounded in shallow waters and had to be rescued by skillful company staffers who sailed motorboats along with us. The staffers, most of whom are aborigines, were busy attending to rafts and participants in all sorts of incidents, including grounding, people falling into water, rafts slamming into rocks in rapids. The staffers also towed all the rafts more than half of the route to shorten the time needed to finish the arduous journey. I could imagine it would have been more fun if the water level was high on that day, but overall my first rafting trip on Xiuguluan River could still be described as “fun and wonderful.”
The traffic during my return trip on May 8 was a big surprise to me as there was no congestion at all. I stopped over at Yilan City for jogging along the Yilan River in the afternoon and a hotpot dinner.
My only regret about the trip to Yuli and Ruisui is not being able to ride my bike much due to time constraints even though I carried my bike in my car during the whole trip. I only got to ride my bike for about 40 minutes around Ruisui after the rafting. I enjoyed the biking and very much appreciated the beautiful and peaceful countryside scenes of the rural town.
Yilan Riverside Park
Yilan Riverside Park