Allegedly, that’s the phrase a tribesman from the indigenous Truku tribe exclaimed when he first saw the Gorge.
And since Taroko (太魯閣) means “beautiful and magnificent” in the language of the Truku, some (possibly lazy) tourism official decided to name the Gorge as such.
From our last destination of Green Island, we needed to transit back to Taipei to catch our flight out of Taiwan.
Hualien (花蓮) was along the road back to Taipei, so we decided (why not?) to stop over for a few days to visit the Taroko Gorge (promoted as one of the biggest and baddest attraction you can see in Taiwan).
We took a tourist bus from Hua Lien (the bus stop is just outside the train station), and as we reached the top of the Taroko Gorge, we couldn’t help but help but release an exclamation of our own…
(For us) The Gorge just could not live up to the hype. The heavy downpour we experienced at the start of our walk definitely did not help matters.
We had taken the tourist bus to the end of the trail and had hoped to hike all the way to the front gates.
There are many “bus stops” scattered about 5 – 10km apart throughout the Gorge. With one fee, the tourist bus will pick up/drop off anyone between the various bus stops. We estimated we should be able to just catch the last bus back to Hua Lien.
To be fair, there were some really nice stretches of “off road” trekking that saw us walking along dirt paths. On these stretches, we had the imposing mountain ranges surrounding us and dainty little streams flowing along beside us. Probably because of the rain, there was almost no other hikers going along our route, so we had the trails all to ourselves.
However, many parts of the Gorge require special permits or a local guide so we were not able to access them. Certain parts were also closed off due to the potential risk of landslides. This means that for the most part, we were walking along the highway with cars roaring by us.
It got to a point where a passing van stopped beside us and the lady driver asked us what the hell did we think we were doing.
Once she was able to stop rolling her eyes at our idiotic plan, she offered to give us a ride to one of the bus stops closer to the main gate where we could catch the bus back to Hua Lien. She explained that there really isn’t that much to see between stations anyway.
Also, at the speed we were walking, she estimated we would only make it out of the Gorge the next morning.
Without asking any more questions, we scrambled onto her van.
To us, she was Taroko in her generosity.