Ni hao! I am finally fighting my vacation hangover and finally getting myself to write! Yay! Taiwan was absolutely amazing! With more solo time with me, myself, and I this second time around, I got myself into adventures and gained memories that will last a lifetime.
The first story I’m about to tell you happened on the second day of my trip. I’m starting off with this one because it’s tremendously cute and incredibly heartwarming. It’s about me getting adopted for a day by a Taiwanese family, the Chiang Family, for a day, while I was hiking to Wufengchi Waterfall!
Heading to Wufengchi Waterfall in Jiaoxi
The night before Day 2, I set my alarm at 6:30am. What a freakin’ joke, right? Like, who was I kidding? The next day, I found myself awake a little after 9:30am. I rushed getting ready, packed my backpack with all my hiking essentials, grabbed 2 heaven sent chive dumplings at the halal restaurant next to my hostel, and went straight to Taipei Main Station.
If you ever find yourself in Taipei, you will find that Taipei Main Station is a whole country and adventure in itself. The place is HUUUGE and incredibly difficult to navigate around, especially when you don’t know Chinese. I literally spent almost an hour trying to look for my designated bus station (Yep, there’s more than one!), the one that will get me to Jiaoxi. I also met a family (I’m guessing from Mainland China) headed for the airport, while in the elevator and they also happened to be looking for the same bus station. They followed me around as I tried my best to navigate and every wrong turn we took got us to take a pause to scratch our heads in confusion. But of course, soon enough, I found it!
HOW TO GET THERE:
-From Taipei Main Station, take a Kamalan Bus to Jiaoxi Station.
-Once in Jiaoxi Station, wait for the tourist bus that will directly take you to the Wufengchi Waterfall Carpark. The tourist buses arrive every hour.
The whole trip will take around 1.5 – 2 hours.
**Note: The last bus from Jiaoxi to Taipei is at 1:10am.
Let’s go hiking!
As I got off the bus and went down the parking lot, the view was already great. I spotted a handful of families having picnics by the river as I walked to the hiking trail. As I kept walking, I was greeted by a beautiful hot spring pool before the trail itself. Jiaoxi is known for their hot springs, although you’re gonna have to book ahead in private hot spring pools and mini hot spring resorts, since there aren’t really much that are free and open for the public, including the photo below. They weren’t even allowed down there! Hahaha! #RebelWilsons
The hiking trail started off with plenty, plenty, plenty of stairs. But don’t cha worry! It does a booty good 😉. As you hike your way up, the stream of water is going the opposite direction on it’s way down and just the mere sound of it is heaven in itself.
Watch your step! At one point of the hike, my shoes and socks had to come off because I had to cross a watery path, and there was no way in hell I was continuing my hike in wet Converse Chuck Taylors! But as you walk through the water, you get greeted by a small, but not any less majestic waterfall. It was a sight to behold, but please do watch your step and be careful since the big rocks can be very, very slippery!
After slowly but surely walking through the rocks and water, it was time to put my shoes back on and back to the booty work! Or also knows as MORE STAIRS! Yaaaay! After burning 7 million calories, including the two chive dumplings I had earlier that morning, I heard the glorious sound of the water crashing down and I looked up and I couldn’t believe my eyes! The Wufengchi Waterfall!
Photo by: nariyawat on TripAdvisor
The waterfall was very tall, one of the tallest among all the waterfalls in Taiwan. The way the water dropped was gentle, misty, and elegant. It was absolutely majestic!
As I exited the trail of Wufengchi Waterfall, I then found out that there was another, much longer and more difficult trail to the top of the mountain. I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I just went with the flow because if I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go. (Yes, I really fucking love Moana. Just accept it.)
As I was getting my tired ass up the mountain with my wide Bambi eyes, looking around the beautiful scenery, a family of three called me over to show me a monkey that they have spotted. I tried to grab my phone as soon as possible to take a shot, but it was gone in a second. But thank you to that amazing wingman monkey, I met the Chiang Family.
The Chiang family consisted of Mr. Chiang, Mommy Grace (I call her Mommy Grace because she treated me like her own daughter!❤), and their 32 year old son, Daniel. The Chiang family would go on hikes every monday after church, coffee, and noodles. I wish I could go hiking every monday! They also said that the trail that we were hiking was the most challenging one so far.
Mommy grace was a very chatty and incredibly sweet 62 year old lady. She had a heart of gold and a laugh that made my heart melt. The hike was very long and we also took a lot of breaks on the way. Unsurprisingly, at age 62, she had countless of stories about her life well lived, from stories from her childhood all the way to stories when her grey hair started growing out. She had plenty of words of wisdom and advice to tell me about this world, because in her eyes, I was still a little baby at 21. She also had numerous questions to ask me. She said that she thought that I was interesting, and I genuinely felt it. She said that she loved the fact that the simplest things like a mountain sink that I could wash my face with made me really happy. She asked me about what I wanted to achieve in life. I told her about my blog and how I would love to make a difference in the world, especially in the area of human rights and women empowerment. She smiled that sweet smile of hers and said to me, “I believe you can do it. I just look at your smile and I know you can help people.” Oh, how my heart glowed!
Mr. Chiang I think barely spoke English, but he had a smile plastered on his face the whole time. Daniel wasn’t the chattiest, either. He had very good listening skills and could understand me fully, but when it came to speaking, it was a challenge for him, according to Mommy Grace.
In the middle of the hike, we spotted a Catholic church right in the middle of the mountain, surrounded by lush greenery. There was also a tiny village right beside it, and I thought to myself, what a peaceful and beautiful place to live in! Can someone say #Goals?!
We hiked, and hiked, and hiked. And, I found Mommy Grace some walking sticks form the bamboo trees! She was very thankful and said her age was reduced 5 years. It was a long and tiring way up, but how could I complain with the beautiful view and the mountain’s sweet, sweet smell? Although tired and hungry, I had a soft smile stuck on my face without even knowing it because I just couldn’t believe the world’s beauty. Especially, with amazing company. It was pure bliss. Soon enough, we reached our end point where we found a bridge, a resting shed, and a statue of Mama Mary.
On the way down, we stopped by to check out the Catholic church and the little village and the place was really pretty. One of the priests was there and he was a very welcoming, adorable, and chatty old man. He welcomed us and a few other people inside the church and told us the history of the church and how and why it was built. He first spoke in Chinese and would translate it for me after each and every point. Also, they were giving out free food outside the church. It was a very tasty soup with lots of veggies and no meat! #Score!
It was clear to Mommy Grace and I that we weren’t separating just yet, and I really didn’t want to! On the way down, she invited me to join her family for dinner, and she also wanted to bring me to her friend’s house after to see and try on the Taiwanese National Costume for women. I was very pleased and excited! I know that it totally shouted out STRANGER DANGER! But, my gut and intuition let me know that I was safe and in good, caring hands.
We reached the bottom of the mountain just after the sun had set. We all got into the Chiang mobile and drove to another county called Yilan. Although we were already on the way to eat, Mommy Grace was giving me handfuls of pumpkin seed candies that tasted soooo good! She also told me to not be shy if I wanted to sleep after the tiring hike, since it was going to take at least 40 minutes to get to Yilan. I told her not to worry, I was enjoying the view.
Once at Yilan County, first thing was first! Green onion pancakes! Which is what Yilan County is known for, culinary wise. It was extremely delicious! I totally recommend it, especially with their hot sauce!
Mommy Grace made sure that I ate and tried absolutely everything a vegetarian could eat! Dish after dish, she told me that I didn’t have to finish anything so I’d have space in my tummy to try everything. She’s such a cutie! ❤ She took plenty of photos of me and it really made me happy seeing her making me happy made her happy.
If you’re in Taiwan, watch out for the dish on the photo above! It’s ice cream with shaved almonds and coriander, all wrapped in an egg roll wrap. The flavors of everything altogether was heaveeeen! At this point, I was full. No more food could possibly enter my mouth. Mommy Grace did it like a Filipino grandma, and she did it damn well.
We then drove around 20 minutes to her friends place. I don’t remember her name since it was one that was very hard to remember, but she was very friendly and welcomed me into her home with open arms. There, she showed me her Taiwanese National Costume collection. I couldn’t understand why she had so much. I asked why and she said she just really liked them. Who am I to judge? We all have our collections! Mine are boys’ tears. Just kidding!
So, this is me! The traditional Taiwanese lady! 😝 She also had a stage at the entrance of her house where I did a little dance while Mommy Grace was taking a video of me and we all had a good laugh. I was wondering why there was stage in the middle of the living room, and I questioned it out loud. Daniel came closer to me and whispered, “Because, she is crazy.” Oh my goodness, I almost spat out laughing! 😂
It was getting quite late and the Chiang family was ready to drop me off Yilan County’s bus station. It was very kind of them, but it doesn’t even stop there. Mommy Grace went down with me to the bus station, bought me a bus ticket back to Taipei, and waited with me for my bus for almost half an hour, while Mr. Chiang and Daniel waited in the car!!! (Guuuys!!! 😦 ❤ ❤ ❤). Mommy Grace just wanted to make sure that I will get to Taipei safe and sound. Soon enough, my bus arrived and Mommy Grace walked me to it. We exchanged numerous hugs and I couldn’t stop thanking her for such a wonderful day. I hopped on the bus and she spoke to the bus driver in Chinese. I’m assuming she was telling him to remind me when to get off since I’m a little baby traveller who might miss her stop. I arrived Taipei at midnight with my heart warm and alive and my faith in humanity restored.
Look at that big smile on my face! ☺ I would like to thank the Chiang family for taking me in and making me feel like I was a Chiang myself. It was such a wonderful and heartwarming experience, I have so much gratitude towards them and the universe itself. Above everything, it reminded me that no matter how crazy the world is today, there are still good people. And that gives me a lot of hope.
YOU CAN WATCH MY VISUAL DIARY HERE.
Watch this video if you want to hear Mommy Grace’s amazingly sweet laugh! I am sure this video will warm your heart. 😌
From my Instagram story.
Feel free to give me a follow and check out my travel photos! @biancagarciacruz
With lots of love,