Hualien (pop. 150,000) is the capital of the Hualien district in the east of central Taiwan. Some 80,000 descendants of the island’s original native inhabitants live in this region, a predominant feature of which is the central mountain chain which runs through the island from north to south. The town itself is a centre of the Taiwan marble industry and for some years now has been an important traffic hub with a modern harbour.
In one of Hualien’s marble works visitors can watch the local meta-morphic crystalline limestone being processed.
A few miles south of Hualien lies the folklore village of Toulan, where descendants of the Ami tribe will give visitors an insight into their culture through their traditional dances, songs and dress. A visit to the South Sea Garden is also to be recommended.
The drive from Hualien along the east coast to the fishing port of Suao on the north-east coast will be found particularly charming. En route the visitor will pass some spectacular and jagged cliffs jutting out into the sea.
One ofthe tourist highlights of a stay in Taiwan is the drive from Hualien to Tungshih along the 193km/120 mile long Central Cross Island Highway, constructed in 1960. The route this major arterial road takes across the island has led to its being known locally as the “Treasure Island Rainbow”. It provides access to a large number of scenic and charming places.
The first 19km/12 mile section ofthe road has been bulldozed through the imposing Taroko Gorge, a wildly romantic pass through rocky terrain composed mainly of marble and other forms of limestone. The construction of this length of road involved the blasting of 38 tunnels and numerous “windows” in the rock. Look out particularly for the “Marble Bridge”, the Shrine of Eternal Spring” and the place where blocks of smooth marble are heaped one on top ofthe other like ice-floes.
At the upper end of the gorge lies the pleasant resort of Tienshiang (450m/1477ft); an exposed suspension bridge leads to a temple and a pagoda. Further west, in Tayuling, a side road leads off to the Hohuanshan massif (highest peak 3422m/11,230ft), so popular with winter sports enthusiasts and climbers, and then down to Wushe and on to the Lake of the Sun and the Moon (see subsequent entry). 6km/33/4 miles beyond Wushe lies the spa town of Lushan.
To the north-east of Lushan will be found the resort of Lishan, which attracts visitors all the year round. It boasts a large hotel built in the classical palace style.
The road now continues westward downhill, past the Techi and Kukuan reservoirs and through large banana plantations, to Tungshih.
Visit to Taiwan Photo Gallery
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