Hualien street.

The Taiwan train system is predictably good: Clean, fast, efficient. We caught the express train down the East coast to the town of Hualien.

The trip took two hours flying past expansive rice paddies making a monochromatic plain of green. Little farming towns popped up occasionally, and then, every now and again, there would be a factory. About halfway through the trip we ran along the coast on our left and mountains on our right. After a while the mountains reached the coast and we whizzed through tunnels with flashed of daylight in the gorges.

Hualien itself is an un-lovely town of around 100,000 people. We walked the 25 minutes from the train station to our hotel and it wasn’t a lot of fun. The footpath kept disappearing or being blocked by cars and scooters. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of traffic to contend with when we were forced out onto the road.

After settling in at our hotel, we went for a walk down to the Ocean or, more properly, the Philippines Sea. It was a nice enough walk through small side streets and markets. The sea itself is a lowering grey blue limned by a gravel beach. The breach turned out to be a trove of stones for skipping. And so we skipped stones.

We wandered back via the night market. Naturally enough it was full of sea-food on sticks, which wasn’t really what any of us wanted, so we ended up having a great meal in a BBQ restaurant that did a great line in burgers and beer. That will set us up for tomorrow’s walking.