After a short train ride further down the East coast, we arrived at Hualien. Dawin’s parents split off to see some friends and visit a doctor they knew, so the rest of us hopped in with a local tour guide for the day. 

After a quick lunch, we got a taste of Taiwan’s history. There are a handful of big companies that pride themselves on being among the oldest in the country. We visited one of them which has set up a mini museum focused on showcasing the everyday lives of the people of Taiwan in the 50s and early 60s, the first decade or two after breaking away from China as communism took over. 

And as we walked out of the museum, we learned that not every aspect of that way of life has been left behind. Immediately next door, a man was plowing his field with the help of a water buffalo. 

Next up was a scenic overlook of the coast. There were little pull offs all along this road but this one had a walking path along the cliff face with a nice tower for better viewing the scenery, and a background of steep mountain faces reaching into the low clouds. 

We then ventured inland along one of the river gorges. There were warning signs up everywhere for rock slides, but it didn’t hit home until we drove by a rock about the size of a semi cab perched on the edge of the road which the driver told us was one of the smaller boulders that had come down last year in a huge rock slide. The house sized boulders lying in the river gained some perspective, and a short while later we stopped at a roadside stand loaning out free hard hats for use if you wanted to get out of the car and explore. Before we knew it, we were walking down a road carved out of and into the sheer rock face. Avi wasn’t feeling the hard hat so we had keep her away from most of the fun spots, but there were still places she got to see a great view. 

For reference, the larger rocks are about the size of our house.

So I guess big rocks fall here often enough to warrant a permanent structure to catch them?

Finally, it was time for dinner. We did hot pot for the second time this trip, but at a place which has a special twist. They’re known for their floral hot pots, where flowers are used as a base for flavoring, and especially the lotus flower. And when the flower is put in the pot, after a couple seconds it opens up and “blooms” right in front of you. 

Tomorrow: a land trek down the East Coast National Scenic Area, and a lesson in making tofu.