The fast train journey from Chishang to Hualien is about an hour.

The main reason people come to Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan, is to visit Taroko Gorge. It’s a stunning, dramatic, product of nature and testament to what slight changes over millions of years can produce.

When I got to my hostel, I spoke to Phon, the person on duty, about going to the gorge. All the reading I’d done indicated it might be difficult to see the gorge using public transport. The first thing Phon asked was whether I had or could ride a motorbike.

In Taiwan, there are many cars (because they’re inexpensive). However, there are even more motorbikes. They’re zipping around wherever you go.

When I told Phon that I didn’t ride or own a motorbike, he replied, “No problem” and went on to show me the bus timetable. He said I could buy a one- or two-day bus pass, which would give me unlimited travel on the bus that went from Hualien to the furthest point in the gorge.

After checking in, I walked to the beach and the day/night market.

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