A Travellerspoint blog

Who Alien?

pronounced Hua - lien

Another day spent in the flat with one person getting some outside time, and the other person hanging out to let them back in. Today, taking in all the suggestions I had been given about where to visit in Taiwan, researched into them and decided on taking Ashley's advice and going to Hualien next to the Taroko Gorge. Joe was giving the phone one last go, but I had already surrendered the idea of meeting p with Master Yang's Kung Fu brothers.

There were only 5 Couchsurfers in all of Hualien, and one of them was freaky religious (Christian style), so with only 4 choices, and none of them with great response percentages, I went with the one who said she also ran a hostel. I booked 2 nights in the private Japanese style room for the only 2 nights the private room was available (for 2 people it cost almost the same as a dorm), and then on my break to go outside I called the Formosa Backpackers Hostel and booked us for our first night in the 6 person dorm. I wanted to make sure that I reserved the private room right away since they seemed to be going fast, but the dorms were pretty empty and I wanted to make sure that they knew when we would be arriving so that we could get the free pick up from the train station (always a plus).

I also did some Couchsurfing in Japan, and I found the most amazing guy!



MAY 26 : Welcome meeting (SHIMIZU)
MAY 27 : Mt.Fuji / SAKE factory (SHIMIZU)
JUN 03 : Tea ceremony (SHIMIZU)
JUN 04 : TOKYO Tsukiji market?

I immediately emailed him, even though he said he was in Peru, and asked him if I should switch my flight from the 27th to the 25th so that we could go on this trip with him around Japan!

That night we went out to Indian food with Ashley and her blond friend who was on the hike with me... Did anyone notice a blond guy on the trip? Maybe the French guy? We took a short bus to the Shida night market (Ashley lived pretty close to Channa) and walked around until we found this guy from the hike:


“You don't have blond hair.” Was the fisrt ting I said to hm, pretty absolutely. He said that he guessed he didn't either, and Ashley defended herself as being a ABT (American Born Taiwanese, BTW, that was my nickname for her, not hers; she hadn't even herd of the term ABC before I introduced it to her... see, aren't I culturally intelligent?) We also talked about going to Japan b/c Ashley was leaving for Japan on Friday! She told us about this thing called a JR pass (Japan Rail Pass). It is a really cheap way to tour around Japan on their Bullet Trains, Express Trains, and some Buses and Ferries. Once you buy the ticket you had unlimited rides for the time period you pay for. The trick is you can only buy one out of the country and you can only get it validated if you have a tourist visa to Japan. We had the tourist visa (in Japan all you need to do is go there and your passport is stamped with a tourist visa), but buying these passes before we were in Japan was cutting it close. So that night I got on line and bought Joe a 2 week pass, and myself a 3 week pass, totaling about $1,000 (not cheap, but neither are the fairs to travel in Japan). This ended up being really complicated in the end because Joe's ticket I sent to my mom in the USA like you're supposed to. Mine, however, I had the great idea of sending them to Shelly, Belia's sister in law in Japan. This fiasco, to be continued.

Ashley's place:


(I love the statue, thats not just the light hitting it, it was pre shadowed, and I don't know why, but I thought it was really cool. Like something out of an anime (a well painted anime). It always looks better when the shadowing is handled as if you took a picture of the object with the perfect lighting, but you get to see the statue like that no matter how crappy your lams are. Also, the circular handle to the right of the tv is an actual old coffee grinder. Ashley can come and decorate my place anytime. Only, no mirrors (you can already see on replicating the white soffa... they are everywhere!)

Outside Ashley's place:


Joe liked the BaGua symbol put outside the green apartment (can you find it?), and I liked how in Taiwan everyone has balcony plants like in those Italian paintings of cobblestone paths through narrow and windy streets with cafes and bicycle shops.

To the metro!


Do you see that tall looking bamboo shaped building between the 2 closer ones? That is 101, the place everyone keeps asking us if we have been there yet. It is the tallest building in the world! Except for possibly this one in Dubai that Ashley doesn't really count, not because she is having any sort of Taiwan patriotism, she is after all American (ABT), but because Dubai is a scary and unnatural place that is going to crumble into the ocean some day, and their building is only the tallest because they purposefully made the top of it extendable, and they won't disclose how high it can extend just so that it can always be the tallest. Dubai is weird.

To the train!


If you notice I got a picture of the strange statue that had water running our to the circular head, with a Taiwanese girl taking a picture of it. Yeah, I don't know why I was so excited about it either.


Joe's favorite handicap ramp system. This one, maybe tied with the one at our apartment we got in China. Oh, what? I haven't told you that we had an apartment together in China for one month while we lived as the Chinese lived, ate as the Chinese ate (grant it, more like the Chinese children than the adults), and worked as the Chinese worked (but with about 1/10th the hours), and practiced like the Chinese practiced? Well, now you know.

To Hualien!


(Joe just took a shot of wasabi, so yeah, if you think his is high and cray in this picture, he is.)

Pass Yilan!


To the coast!


But I was sitting on the mountain side of the train!


Exit, Hualien!


We got picked up at the train station pretty easily (you don't need the other person to hold a sign up with your name on it when they can easily distinguish you as the only Americans). We got set up at her hostel, and then we hit the town looking for the river, and possibly the fruit market.


This one is a pretty cool topper to one of those waist high pillars that keep cars from driving up walking streets.


And this etherial looking pond is part of the hotel right next to our hostel (same with the christmas tree).


And here is our hostel:


Yay travel!

At the hostel we got the computer from the safe under the bar (we have a bar at the hostel, our host is a surfer girl and she likes the mix). Joe wanted me to go and retrieve the plug from the dorm, and there I ran into a girl from Sydney. We talked for about an hour or two before Joe came into the dorm with the computer and a look that said “Its okay that you forgot about me, but come on, for 2 hours?” But again, this blog, case in point. I like to talk to strangers about traveling, especially ones from countries I plan to go to.

Posted by - Rain 05:08

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