The Minsu (民宿) that we were staying at in Hualien was located near the sea. So we took up the owner’s kind offer to use their bikes for a morning ride before the main highlight of the day: River Tracing (塑溪)!
The bike path runs along the sea and to the river leading to it as well. It stretches longer than we could cover in 1.5 hours of cycling and a map of the full route can be found along the way.
My tiny eyes can’t take the summer sun of Taiwan >.< but it was a great day to be out
*note to self: don’t wear funny clothes that can give you strange tan lines in summer.
Along the route there was a leisure farm where people can learning horse riding. We didn’t have time for that but were still allowed us to go visit the beautiful horses for free.
Soon, it was time to head back to prepare for our river tracing experience. The owner arranged for a local river tracing company to take us for a half day (4h) program. The company we went with was called 溯溪王 River King and is quite well reviewed by their customers.
4 hours flew by really quickly and I wished that we had time to do the full day journey instead. The journey ended with us changing back into dry clothes and eating a steaming cup of instant noodles which never tasted so good.
You can request for the company to drop you off at your hotel/minsu or at the Golden Triangle zone of Hualien. The Golden Triangle simply refers to the main shopping belt of the city.
Armed with a tourist map in hand, we headed for the Zi Qiang Night Market (super far and hard to walk from the golden triangle, so I recommend taking a taxi instead). We decided to do the journey on foot so that we could browse the shops and eat along the way. Afterall, Taiwan is all about its food food FOOD!
Our first stop was the Gong Zheng Bao Zi Shop. The shop is famous for their Water steamed buns which typically contains mince pork with chives. They also sold other local favourites such as steamed dumplings Xiao Long Bao (小笼包), Sour and Spicy Noodles and you can wash it all down with a cup of chinese tea or soy milk.
No. 199-2, Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
Next is another famous local food, the humble Wonton (boiled dumplings). We tried the dumpling soup at a local Old Shop (老店), a term given to shops that have lasted through the decades.
Dai Ji Pian Shi
No. 120, Zhonghua Rd, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
After eating, we thought it was best if we could walk off the food and prepare our tummys for the onslaught of food at Zi Qiang Night Market.
Who knew that in this quiet but well decorated street, we bumped into a roadside stall selling Takoyaki! It smelt so good I knew I had to get some (by some I mean like alot!)
Old Railway Walkway
Lane 551, Zhong Zheng Road, Near the junction of Jie yu street and Bo Ai street.
Finally, after hours of walking, we reachded Zi Qiang Night Market. Night Markets are a not to be missed feature of every Taiwan experience. After the sun sets, locals and tourists alike throng the lanes filled with stands selling every gastronomic delight imaginable.
One of my favourite thing to eat in Taiwan is their Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包) which refers to the pan fried buns you see in the picture below.
The texture of the bun is really different as the bun is not really pan fried as much as it is fried in … water? After frying the bun lightly on one side in the pan, water is poured into the pan where the rest of bun gets steamed till its cooked. The effect is a crispy bottom paired with the soft steamed parts of the bun. So Yummy!
Another thing that can be found throughout the night market is the fried Squid stand. The squid is heavily breaded and fried in a vat of hot oil. it is then served as per the picture below and you can request for a variety of sauces such as honey, curry, plum etc.
I also noticed a lot of bar looking shacks that were service fresh seafood. You can get freshly shucked big oysters there. Look at how happy the guy is to eat fresh seafood, even bringing along his dogs to enjoy the view of the chef preparing the dishes.
At the end of the night, the minsu’s owner kindly brought us to buy some fire crackers and fireworks. Note that due to government restrictions on playing with fire crackers in the city limits, you might have to go to the seaside to enjoy this activity. Lucky for us the minsu is a big compound and we could safely play in the drive way of the house.
Fire crackers can be bought from places that sell chinese prayer goods. There is a huge variety which we delighted in buying as this is something we can’t do back in Singapore where fire crackers are banned.
We also made sure to release a Kong Ming Lantern that night. I is believed that if you write your wishes on the lantern and release it to the skies, the lanterns will carry your requests to the gods above.
We were deadbeat by the end of the night and I could scarcely bring myself to take a shower before I slumped on the bed and was knocked out…