Hualien was the first place that I was on my own and I was terrified.  I was on what I was hoping the right train.  Then I got off in what I hoped was Hualien.  Then I walked what I hoped was the right direction to get to my hostel.  Then I stood outside my hostel and hoped someone would let me in.  Then I checked in and hoped I would meet people.  That was the only thing that didn’t happen.

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I spent my time there wandering around aimlessly and drinking coffee.  I was avoiding eating because I couldn’t read anything and couldn’t tell what restaurants were even open. I was too cold and too unprepared.  I was actually by myself the whole time and the only one in a six person dorm.  But I still really liked Hualien.

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The streets felt festive for the New Year.  The little pink cookie things I found were delicious.  The girls that worked at my hostel were super friendly and helpful.  I walked twenty minutes the wrong direction, but ended up at a little pavilion by a river instead.

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Things might not always seem that good at first, but they get better.  Everyone I met there, which really wasn’t all that many people, was really nice and was willing to help if I needed it.  I probably would have packed up and gone home if Hualien didn’t go well.  Maybe not home, but I would have gone anywhere else.  I’m glad it went well.

Helpful things:

  • It’s super easy to get here by train from Taipei and Kenting.
  • Spend an afternoon just wandering around the market.  There is so much to see.
  • If you’re there on a weekend, go to the Cultural and Creative Industrial park.  It’s a great place to get local souvenirs.
  • Don’t be afraid to just wander around.  I felt totally safe here on my own and I even got myself fairly lost, but I found a great park by the river, so it was alright.
  • It’s a great base for visiting Taroko Gorge.

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Have you been to Hualien?  What did you do there?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?