All aboard!! Take the train from Taipei to Hualien as it will save you time compared to driving. Just be aware, there is a much slower, more stops train and you may want to avoid taking that train. There is also a more quicker Taroko Express which will bring you to a more scenic trail and is nonstop.
Travel Advisory : One should book/buy 2 weeks to guarantee seats. We failed to book/buy and we decided to buy on spot tickets. However,we informed our minsu (home-stay) owner and he immediately placed a booking for us to guarantee us seats as he told us that it was better to book rather than buy on the spot. He managed to book for us 2 days before we arrived. We were cutting it close.
The snakey line to buy your tickets. Do buy your tickets early to ensure a place to sit. I collected my tickets a day before. You must seat according to the assigned seats on your ticket.
You may opt for a cheaper ticket known as the Standing Ticket. For these tickets, if there is an empty spot, you may sit but once the owner with Seated Tickets arrive, you will have to yield the seat to its rightful owner.
This is Taipei Main Station. There are lots of restaurants and basically is a mall for you to shop and dine whilst awaiting your train. It is an extremely large complex and you will get lost. Do not wander off if your train departure is close. Follow the signboards and do not take a wrong turn.
NTD 441 for one way tickets.
Train tickets costing NTD750 per pax for a return (Taipei-Hualien-Taipei) ticket. Don’t lose your tickets.
There is a special zone for female passengers to wait.
People will rush down the trains. Do make way if you are standing at the exits.
I bought something from 7-11 for the long 2 and a half hours train ride.
A must experience is to try to eat the inhouse sold bento set. Waiters will come asking you if you want to purchase foods. It feels like a flight. I had my sandwich but I was still hungry and decided to buy a bento set. At NTD60, this was a cheap meal on tracks.
Quite well balanced, egg, pork, fried bean curd and vegetables.
Some village-side streams had green aqua colored water. It puzzles me about the cause of this.
Zooming by the coast.
Arrival at warm sunny Hualien. The weather was upbeat compared to the overcast skies of Taipei.
Alas, one leg of the journey is done and another starts. Onwards to the taxi and off to Taroko Gorge, but not before making a pit-stop at the bathroom.
Mr.Li is a taxi driver recommended by Andy ( minsu owner). Mr.Li speaks only mandarin so you will need to understand mandarin. He is one of the best taxi drivers and have been frequently blogged about.
Fasten your seatbelts. Off we go.