This past weekend we went on my company trip to Hualien and Taroko Gorge. I was afraid it might be one of those Taiwanese-sit-on-the-bus-hop-out-for-photo-ops affairs, but it was actually quite fun and active. We got up at an ungodly (for us) hour to catch a 7am train to Hualien. Then we got on a tour bus and went to Rui Sui Farm 瑞穗牧場 (which was pretty but rather small and boring - you can buy stuff to feed the koi fish, cows, and ostriches and buy snacks made from their farm's milk), and then a visit to the awkwardly named Lin Tian Shan Culture Studio 林田山文物展示館. Now this was very interesting - it is a restored former paper milling company village that dates back to the Japanese colonial period.
Many of the buildings feature Japanese architectural touches, and there is a village theater that is made of aromatic wood with the original early 20th century movie projectors on display.
We bought homemade mulberry juice from a grandma that was absolutely delicious and refreshing.
Afterwards, we went to Carp Lake 鯉魚潭. Many co-workers were encouraged to participate in a company 5,000-meter race or a relay. Carp Lake is very scenic - you can rent bikes, paddle boats, and kayaks. We opted to do a short nature hike - there are many well-marked trails to choose from. I'd definitely return - it's a great recreational area for families.
On Sunday, we went to Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園. It was a beautiful day and we did two hikes, the 1km Swallow Grotto Trail and the 4km Baiyang Waterfall Trail. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out and I haven't gotten photos downloaded from the hub's iPhone. I'll post them up soon!
In the meantime, here's a classic pic of Taroko from Monad (Falling Spirit)'s Flickr stream: