The View from Hotel Bayview, Xincheng Township, Hualien
We reached Hotel Bayview in the afternoon. It had been a long ride from Qingjing Farm to Qixingtan Beach in Hualien. The hotel staff were kind enough to allow us to check-in before time. We were hungry and hadn’t eaten lunch yet. But those views from the room and sundeck were hard to skip. After soaking in the views of the endless sky and sea; we scouted the area for lunch.
Most of the local eateries were shut and we thought we’d have better luck on the beach. Qixingtan Beach seems to have the best of everything. There’s Taroko National Park — in the distance, a long pebbled seashore, and an infinite blue canvas of sky melting into the sea.
It’s not easy walking on a pebbled seashore. You never know what you’d find. Strange looking fish were camouflaged between the striations of rocks. Swimming isn’t allowed because of the strong tide. Warnings are plastered at regular intervals. There’s even a lifeguard on the beach — stationed near the hotels.
There’s something soothing about walking along the beach. The rhythmic roar and purr of the waves is one of the most calming sounds I’ve heard. I was a very long way from home. The sea took me back to my roots. It stirred those childhood memories that were slowing drifting away from me.
Fishing is actively pursued along the scenic coastline of Qixingtan Beach. From amateurs to zealous fishermen; there’s room for everyone. Although, I’m not sure if one needs to have a permit (for tourists) to catch fish here.
As we approached the local fish market, we saw fishermen get ready to collect the catch of the day. They struggled to get the motorised raft to ride the waves. After a couple of false starts, the raft was riding the choppy waters without a problem.
Loading the Spoils of the Sea
The fishermen attached the raft to the fishing boat and waited for the men to load it. It wasn’t an easy task with the choppy waters playing spoilsport with each growing wave.
We sat for a while. We tried to ignore the rumbling in our stomach and focussed on the waves instead. Giant waves were born in the belly of the sea and disappeared without a trace along the pebbled shore. Above, F-16s cut through the blue sky from the airforce base.
Is this Happiness?
As a silent observer, from the outside, it’s possible to romanticise the idea of a simple life. It’s possible to fall in love with the idea of living every day — on what you find — on that day. When you have little; do you crave more? Or do you settle for what you have and find bliss in the small nothings of life? Do you want to be the king of your cove or dream of being a worker among bees? Do you want revel in fresh air or would you trade it for an air purifier in a lofty castle in the sky? On which side of the lens you’d rather be?
The catch got quite a bit of attention. Local tourists were buzzing around the spoils from the dark recesses of the sea. They had to be shooed off by the irritated fishermen.
Botanical Garden & Star Watching Plaza
We exited the beach and walked along the paved promenade. There’s a dense Botanical Garden and a Star Watching Plaza here. Sadly, it was a long walk from our hotel, and we didn’t think we’d come out at night to watch the stars.
Qixingtan Scenic Area
This side of Qixingtan Beach was perfectly landscaped with green lawns and painted murals on the walls. Tourist buses were trickling in and it was hard to get an empty frame.
Stone Sculpture Park
Stone Sculpture Park has some interesting exhibits scattered along the scenic area. We tried finding as many stone sculptures as we could and gave up when we saw the street food stalls.
The paved road is part of a 35.5 km cycling trail that extends from Deyan Coastal Botanical Gardens to Liyu Lake Scenic Area. The cycling trail along Qixingtan Coast is a pleasant ride with stunning views of the seashore.
Local vendors looked at us quizzingly. Where did we come from? I could see it in their eyes. I find Asia’s diversity bewildering and I understand why one would get confused. How different we look from one another. Who drew those lines anyway? Finally, a friendly vendor quipped, ‘Como Estas’. And since I can’t speak every language people think I can, I smiled. It’s the best I could do.
Most tourists hovered around beach plaques or near food stalls. We walked away from the buzz and tried to enjoy the tranquility of the beach.
Yin and Yang
This bunker was cleverly camouflaged in the green landscape. It’s hard to imagine something so grim to be covered with pretty flowers.
Is this Nirvana?
I couldn’t get enough of those views. We had stopped clicking pictures. We just walked in silence and let the sounds of the sea guide us.
It had been a very long day. We ate an early dinner at the local convenience store. I craved for a proper meal. It was the seventh day of our trip and I wanted to sleep and do nothing. As a reward, we were treated to some brilliant views of the rising moon. The clouds gently made way for that celestial beauty in the sky…