Photos taken by Kathy Luan (University of Michigan), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Spring 2023
Taroko National Park – Tunnel of Nine Turns
My roommates and I spent a weekend in Hualien 花蓮 exploring Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園. It was an easy trip from Taipei, and we went to Taroko National Park soon after arriving in Hualien. At first, we were disappointed that it was a cloudy weekend, but quickly changed our minds when we saw how beautiful Taroko was. The mist rolling off the mountains added a serene and mysterious feeling to the park.
My beautiful roommates posed for me many times throughout our trip! Whether it’s candid or planned shots, I love documenting all our adventures together. This picture was taken on the Buluowan Terrace 布洛灣吊橋, where we spent so much time admiring the gorge below. This was also our first overnight trip, and we learned so much about each other over the duration of the weekend.
Turquoise water of Taroko
We took several trails throughout Taroko National Park, but my favorite was the Swallow Grotto Yanzikou Trail 燕子口步道. We followed the river along this trail and had a constant view of the rushing waters below. The rivers in Taroko National Park had beautiful turquoise water that looked surreal. Our guide told us that the water was extremely clean and that it was even clean enough to drink!
Oceanside in Hualien
My roommates and I made it a goal to see the ocean before leaving Hualien. We set off to have breakfast on the sea the morning of our departure. We headed to Nanbin Park 太平洋公園, and after finishing our breakfast sandwiches, we walked down to the beach. Although the water was cold, we were still drawn in by its beautiful blue color. We sat by a fisherman while we dried off and then finally took a taxi back to the train station to return home.
First Look of Kaohsiung
For our five-day weekend, my roommates and I headed down south. We spent two days in Kaohsiung 高雄 and one day in Tainan 台南 to leave ourselves with ample time to study for our midterms, which were the following week. On our first day in Kaohsiung, we took a ferry to Cijin Island 旗津區. From the side of the ferry, we could see all the houses along the Kaohsiung coast. There were buildings of all colors, and I quickly snapped a picture to remember the pretty pale yellow and blue houses. At Cijin Island, we ran into several other CET students, and we spent the rest of the night with them on the beach and at the night markets.
This day was one of my favorite days that I’ve had so far! My roommates and I had such fun adventures on Lambai Island 小琉球. The beaches were beautiful, and the water was the perfect temperature for swimming. Although many people rent mopeds on Lambai Island, my roommates and I opted to walk or take the public bus. We took the bus all the way around the island and saw so many temples, restaurants, and goats on the side of the road. I took this picture at Beauty Beach 沒人沙灘, my favorite beach in Taiwan so far. My roommate Tara and I spent a long time walking down the beach and exploring nearby hidden coves.
We spent all afternoon at Beauty Beach either swimming or laying in the sun. While we are at Beauty Beach, we were lucky enough to see five sea turtles! One swam right next to us and we almost missed it while we were treading water. Many turtles came near the shore as the tide came in. It was truly amazing to see them so close up.
On our way back to Taipei, my roommates and I made a pit stop in Tainan. Although we only had a few hours in this city, we made the most of our time and ate some delicious food. I loved walking through Shennong Street 神農街; it was full of cute shops. Beautiful lanterns were adorning the sides of the street, and it was so dreamy to walk around this area.
In addition to overnight trips, my roommates and I also go on day trips together. One day, we spontaneously decided to go to Jiufen 九份 for the afternoon. We have been planning a Jiufen trip ever since we watched Spirited Away together, and we finally took the opportunity to go. Although we only spent 3 hours in Jiufen, we could see so much of the town. We saw the famous A-Mei Tea House 阿妹茶樓, which truly was beautiful. The lanterns and plants hanging off the sides of the wooden tea house added to the serene atmosphere, and it was unlike any other teahouse I’d seen.
The red lanterns lining Jiufen Old Street 九份老街 shined on us as we walked down the street, creating a warm glow that spread throughout the area. The street was full of tea shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. Everything caught my eye, and I wanted to spend hours in every store.
The sights and smells of Jiufen were making my roommates and me hungry, so we stopped at Grandma Lai’s 賴阿婆芋圓 for some delicious taro balls. We got a hot bowl and an iced bowl to split between us. The taro balls were so QQ! We could not stop eating, so I snapped this photo of Holly and Iris between bites.