Coastal Hualien – Taiwan’s “Secret” Backyard Garden

Text: Rick Charette Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo Sun, surf, thriving tribal cultures, stupendous geological artwork, and… well, read on. Hualien County is a powerful place. Nature is master, man mere spectator, despite oft thinking otherwise. Though just a few score kilometers away from the west coast as the eagle flies, Taiwan’s Hawaii-like coastal Hualien “secret garden” could not be further away from its industrial side. Island Taiwan’s thick back of soaring mountains allows just two narrow, long strips of flat land to exist on the east coast, stretching from Hualien into Taitung County and being separated by the Coastal Mountain Range. One, the East Rift Valley (花東縱谷), is carpeted with neat, bright-vegetation farms. The other, the exceedingly narrow sea strip, tirelessly serenaded by the pounding chant of Pacific breakers, is the subject of this article. We’re headed on a 3-day sampler trip for you from the north point where the central…