Day 4 started off with plans to travel to Haulien. However, since we had a couple of hours before we needed to catch the train, we explored the neighborhood around the hotel.
About a block away there was a street with several shops selling various types of herbs, dry good, and bulk foods. Apparently it was an area where shops and restaurants go to get their supplies. There were some pretty exotic things like dried sea cucumbers and various types of roots, bark, and twigs. To be honest, there was also a lot that I just couldn’t identify.
Eventually we made our way back to the hotel to pick up our bags and headed to the train station. When we tried to buy our ticket we found out that there were no open seats available. The ticket is the same price to stand, and you can sit when seats open up. I only had to stand for about the first 15-20 minutes and was able to get a seat after that. Once we got away from Taipei there were actually very few people on the train.
About three hours later we finally arrived in Hualien. Hualien is a small town located in between the ocean and a mountain range and is especially known for those two things.
We had about a 15 minute walk to our hotel, which was actually pretty nice. At this point we were pretty hungry so we walked to a shop we had passed and had some meat and shrimp dumplings and soup. We were completely full and had only spent about $3.
After lunch/dinner we took the free rental bikes that were available from the hotel and headed for the main strip. At first, riding in traffic was a little difficult, but we got a hold of it quickly. The strip was really busy and it was hard to look at everything and not get run over at the same time. So we left the strip and headed for the night market.
Along the way we came across this temple. It was surrounded by ponds with lots of flying bugs. Luckily, there were also lots of bats eating them.
The night market wasn’t very big compared to the ones in Taipei, but it was the funnest of them all. There were a bunch of games and and they were all very cheap. Including the mango juice we had, I think we spent about $10. We also did archery. Everyone was really nice and all the games were pretty fair. We seemed to win something just about every time we played.
After the night market, we headed to the rock crafters village to see traditional taiwanese dancing. I loved their dancing and even got to participate. The music and the dancing are very happy and upbeat.
At this point we were pretty tired, and decided to go back to the hotel. Tomorrow we head up into the mountains to see the amazing swallow tunnels and beautiful scenery.