Alongside Koahsiung, Hualien is one of the most popular places to visit in Taiwan and it's easy to see why. We've wanted to visit ever since we saw pictures of Taroko Gorge, but since it's on the opposite side of the island to where we lived and worked, we didn't get round to it until the very end of our time in Taiwan.

We booked ourselves into Hualien Wow Youth Hostel purely based on the aesthetics, but the location was pretty convenient. It was close to the station and just around the corner from the shop we hired a scooter from for the day. There are scooter shops everywhere in Hualien, so it's not something you need to book in advance, but we weren't sure we'd be able to find one big enough to accommodate Neil and his long legs and were extremely thankful to see a large scooter at the front of a store.

We headed in the general direction of Taroko Gorge, stopping along the way whenever something caught our eye. Some time was spent on the beach, and although we didn't go in the water, it was incredibly blue. The east coast of Taiwan is definitely winning on the ocean front.

We whizzed around Taroko Gorge in awe. With blue skies above us and greenery all around us, it's safe to say we were in our happy place. We had no plan and followed the roads, taking random turns and... found ourselves low on gas, as we always do when we're going up and down the mountains. How worrying is it that we find ourselves so frequently in this position that the sight of the needle dipping below empty excites me rather than worries me?

We pushed on upwards, figuring there was less road ahead than back, but quickly ran into a problem. The road was closed until about half an hour later and everyone waiting informed us that the nearest gas station wasn't near at all. With that news, we went back the way we came. We've been in this position many times, used broken English and charades to get directions to the nearest gas station in out of the way villages before, even turned our engine off and used nothing but the downwards incline to take us back...

But we weren't just going down, we were going up and down again and again and had no choice but to keep the engine running this time, keep our fingers crossed that we'd make it back to civilization before we had to push the scooter in sweltering heat through winding roads. And, as always, we did, because somehow everything always works out in the end.

Tank filled, we debated going back into Taroko Gorge but decided against it. On our way out, we saw a cafe/restaurant called Truku and, with me feeling more adventurous than usual, decided to get a bite to eat.

I went for a light meal with salted pork and Neil opted for a chicken combo meal with all the trimmings. While mine just had a soup that I didn't touch and a salad that I picked through for cucumber, Neil had other items like banana rice included in his. Both came served on a banana leaf, which was pretty cool, and the meat was incredible. Even though the sides weren't to my liking, I'd pay good money for a meat platter here. Neil, whose taste buds are the complete opposite of my fussy ones, enjoyed the whole meal.

After our late lunch, we headed back towards the city, stopping at the beach once more and getting lost a few times. We debated hanging onto the scooter for a few more hours, but instead took it back to the shop and returned to our room at the hostel to relax for the rest of the evening.

Hualien is easily one of the most beautiful places we've visited in Taiwan and we'd love to spend more time there if we get the chance to return in the future. If you're visiting, it's worth hiring a scooter so that you can get around easily and spending a few days there as there's plenty more to do in the area that we didn't have time for, like whale watching at ridiculous o'clock in the morning. (I think it's 5am but anytime before 9am is ridiculous to me).

Let me know if you've visited Hualien or would love to go in the comments and don't forget to subscribe for more posts like this.