Third Chapter: Volunteering In Dulan And East Coast Of Taiwan

WaGaLiGong Surf Hostel in Dulan, East Coast of Taiwan

From Taichung I hitchhiked to the east coast of Taiwan.
The second chapter started with a terrific view out of the car window while I was hitchhiking.
Thank you Wei for giving me a ride and later to invite me to Kaohsiung.
My first impression of the Surf Hostel was actually kind of bad, just because of their bad organization and the shabby facilities.
But when time passed by I got to love WaGaLiGong and didn’t want to leave anymore.

East Coast Taiwan

I received during my stay a free accommodation and TWD 100 (3$) per day. Two (shitty) bikes I could use for free, and a surfboard to surf in my free time. The waves in Dulan are freaking amazing, especially if you have the whole beach for yourself. Dulan has everything in my opinion to enjoy a good life: Sandwiched between mountains to hike and black volcanic sand beaches with endless breaks to surf, roads along the beautiful scenery to cycle and laid-back, friendly people.

Lush mountains in Dulan.
Mount Dulan
Not an easy hike, but one of my favourite hikes: Dulan Mountain. I did it twice

I met some truly unforgettable people at this hostel and there was never a dull moment with the diverse staff members that I worked with every day. There were some nice places up and down the coast which are easy to explore by hitchhiking or scootering.
Yong-yi, our manager, was a great pleasure to work with.
I appreciated that she listened to my suggestions and constructive critique to improve the hostel. At the same time she tried to make sure that everyone would feel like at home far away from home.

The work was more or less easy, I picked up for myself the morning shift when I worked in the hostel department.
I just love it to have my own space and time in the morning.
Just before my co-workers would get up, guests are checking-in and out and music would be played all day long.
Besides cleaning, opening the hostel, throwing away the trash, the best part were the interactions with different people from all over the world.
Especially when I got invited by a South African English couple to visit them in Hukou township. If you know me, I am taking all opportunities which come along my way. So I visited them one month later.

Butchery Taiwan
Butchery in Hukou

The food options in Dulan are limited. After 2 weeks of 7-11, I craved heavily for different flavours. Even the locals often resort to meals from 7-11 or Family Mart. If you are already in Dulan, don’t miss Taitung and Sanxiantai. Sanxiantai is very popular among tourist due to its coastal views and the long footbridge that connects the coast to the island. Also if you can, try your best to make friends with the aboriginal tribes (Amis) there and jammin’ with them through the night- you won’t regret it.

Hualien and Taroko National Park
Hualien is large. I came to Hualien because I wanted to explore Taroko National Park. The national park covers 1200 sq km and with its canyon, walled in marble and the mountains in the backgrounds, unsurprisingly it is one of Taiwan’s top destinations.
National Park
Taroko National Park is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan.

I guess for Hualien itself I don’t have a lot of recommendations except two.
Accommodation: FH Hostel. Seriously, I made friends with 3 great people during my short stay in Hualien. The location, the staff and the cleanliness are splendid. Sometimes they need volunteers, if you like to do volunteering stuff, just ask them.
Besides cycling along the beach, you have to go to Hualien Night Market.
You could have seen the night market from a mile away with all the lights.
No worries, you can’t miss it – except the bright lights might blinding you.
I went there with my hostel friend and ate 8 different dishes!!
Afterwards, I couldn’t get rid off the feeling of being pregnant.
There are not only food vendors but also game vendors. Actually like in most night markets of Taiwan.

Beach at the east coast of Taiwan.

Who comes to Hualien and doesn’t visit Taroko National Park?
You can take easily a bus from Hualien to the park and pay with your EasyCard. The bus is like a hop-on, hop-off bus. Once the bus drops you somewhere you can stay as long as you desire until the bus picks you up again.
Or you are as crazy as I am and get off at one of the last station and walk back to the entrance gate. It was like a half marathon walk.
I even didn’t include the three trails I hiked in the national park.
Nobody was walking except me, the coolest thing is to wave at the people sitting in the buses while they are passing you.
Another great option would be driving with the scooter or just taking a taxi.

National Park in Taiwan
Stunning Taroko National Park

Try to get to Taroko as early as you can, especially if you only have one day. There are heaps of things to see and trails to explore.


Three trails I can recommend:
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) Trail (30 minutes trail).
There are walls on each side of the river with caves which form natural nesting places for spring swallow birds.

My first trail: Lushui Trail (1 hour trail) is an easy trail.
Therefore the 2km (1,24 miles) trail is suitable for all ages.
But be cautious of falling rocks when walking on this trail.
Lushui Geological Exhibition Center is located at the beginning of the trail, unfortunately everything was in Chinese. Obviously, I was staring only at the nice photogenic presentation, even though they thought I am able to read it…

Trail in Taroko National Park
Part of Lushui Trail

Trail sign

The best trail for me was “Shakadang Trail”(2 hours trail), also known as “Mysterious Valley Trail”.
You will be amazed by its crystal-clear turquoise water littered with impressive marble boulders. Like Lushui Trail, Shakadang Trail is suitable for all ages. 

Shakadang Trail
Turquoise water and marble stones
Hiking Shakadang Trail
Shakadang Trail
Taroko National Park
A view from above.

The old school bridges are a nightmare for everyone who has fear of heights. Moreover, it doesn’t help when the signs are all written in English. Some of the bridges look like they just waiting for a victim to cross the bridge so they can collapse in the next moment. You won’t get rid off the feeling of being in a “Final Destination” movie. But keep your tail up!
Accordingly, try to face your fears.

Bridge of Taroko National Park
This bridge was actually a stable one.
Of course there are more things to do like the hot spring and visiting temples and pagodas.

At the end it started to get dark and I didn’t know where the god damn bus stop was. I am pretty sure it was just next to me but I couldn’t figure it out. So what else can I do after finishing hiking the Shakadang Trail?
I went back on the main road, put my thumb up and waited literally one minute until a Taiwanese couple picked me up.
Again I got an invitation to visit them in Taichung. *blushing*
And one month later I did.

Seriously, don’t miss the stunning Taroko National Park, it is definitely not a secret destination but a must-visit place.
Do whatever you have to do in Taiwan, but make time for this gem.

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