I think I like punishing myself - but it's all for a good reason, right? Another early morning wake up call and rush to the train station - that seems to be a theme of this trip, no? Anyway we got lucky with train times and caught the 7:10 train to Hualien, we even got seats (unlike our first trip to Alishan where we spent half the ride in the cargo car). I feel like i'm about to sound like a broken record but this trip was much like the beginning of Alishan, we rearranged some luggage, stored my large backpack in the baggage room and ventured out for a scooter and lunch. The woman we rented the scooter from was extremely friendly (even if we couldn't communicate much past body language and smiles). While Grant ran back to get his ID from our bag at the station she showed off her pet pig and even tried sharing her lunch with me. Lunch was a not so glamorous lunch box from the shop next door but cheap and filling - just what we needed. A few more stops for necessities like money, gas and a knee brace (finally, after 5 years of talking about it I bought one for my Grandma knees) we were on our way to Taroko National Park .
After Grant's convincing I decided to cancel my train Sunday morning and stay in Taipei for another day. I think a major factor was the wine buzz I had going Saturday night, thoughts of catching an 8am train were no where in sight. After realizing he didn't have to work the rest of the week Grant asked if he could tag along for the rest of my trip. Why I agreed is beyond me - after all this is the guy that told me I looked older (that's a first) than 23, due to my wrinkles' although he later determined it's because I'm always smiling/laughing partially redeeming himself. In all seriousness, I was up for having a travel partner and with his help renting a scooter was a much likelier possibility.
This country has a smell, I can't describe it and I actually don't know what it is, but as soon as I step out of the airport I know I've arrived. The land of night markets, bubble tea and so, soooo much food, your tastebuds will be tired.