The Qingshui Cliffs are some of the most spectacular coastal scenery anywhere. Add to that the excitement of riding a scooter along the narrow, winding road that skirts the edge of the cliffs and you can start to get a feel for the experience.
We rented a scooter the evening before which was a good idea in order to ride off before sunrise the next morning. We paid $400 NTD ($12.75) for a 24-hour scooter rental. Not every place will rent to foreigners who don’t have an international driver’s license, but we found one who would.
In the morning we left the hostel at about 5:15 and picked up some rice triangle snacks at the 7-11. Upon discovering the breakfast shop was open, we sat down for a quick bite. After our bacon dan bing we rode to Qixingtan Beach, about 6km north of Hualien. By this time the sky was light but the sun hadn’t risen yet. I expected to be the only people out there. But I was wrong.
The beach was crowded with plenty of others waiting for the sun. Clouds on the horizon meant we didn’t actually see the sun until about 10 minutes after sunrise. But the glowing orange ball above the Pacific was a sight, indeed. After we got a few photos, we got back on the scooter and I drove us up the coast. The coastal park continues for a few miles north of there and some cycling paths run alongside the ocean.
Our main reason for getting out today was to see the Qingshui Cliffs. We had passed through the area on the train only two days before, but most of the time the train got close to the cliffs we were inside a tunnel. Until recently, the most common way to get from the East coast to Taipei was by ship. This just shows you how mountainous Taiwan is. To see the cliffs properly one needs to access the Suao-Hualien Highway (Highway 9) which also uses tunnels but hugs the cliff-side for much of its short route.
We stopped at several viewpoints to take photos, but as it got late in the morning the traffic got heavier. The road I thought, as drove it, was meant to be ridden on a motorcycle. However, the tour buses and trucks make ridding scary and dangerous, especially through the narrow tunnels. At the end we turned around and Noel drove us back.
Want to see the Qingshui Cliffs for yourself? Noel and I will be taking a small group there in 2015. Read out Taiwan Tour page for details.