I'm guessing on the "railway spelling" of the stations below, but I've listed them in the same south-north order. A lot of the stops listed below can only be visited via the SLOW train, and as a result I haven't been to those stations more than once or twice.
I've been almost everywhere between Taitung City and Hualien City by car, however, and I was careful to look up unfamiliar stations and their proximity to places along Highway 9.
1. Dongjhu 東竹. By this point you're in Hualien County. There's nothing around here except a 360 degree view of the East Rift Valley, and a similar view can be enjoyed from Chrshang all the way to Jrshue. Dongjhu is kind of close to Sixty Stone Mountain (see below), but it's still a long, dangerous drive up from the town.
|Dongli Train Station. Great view though.|
2. Dongli 東里. Ditto for Dongli. I once got bored and walked all over that town. Nothing of interest.
Dongli is close to An Tong 安通溫泉區 however An Tong is one of Hualien's best hot spring areas. The Yu Chang Highway 玉長公路 crosses over from the coast just north of there, and Dongli would be the best place to disembark if you didn't mind a long walk. Those wanting to take a taxi to An Tong would want to get off the train in Yuli instead.
3. Yuli 玉里. This is one of the biggest towns (cities?) in the East Rift Valley, with a population measured in the thousands. There's nothing very interesting in the town (city?) itself, but it's close to both the An Tong Hot Spring Area and Jade Mountain National Park 玉山國家公園. The entrance to Jade Mountain National Park near Yuli is also by far the most convenient, lying just twenty minutes or so from the Yuli Train Station.
Yuli is also famous for "Yuli noodles 玉里麵." If you're in town and haven't had them, I guess you could give them a try, but they're not worth seeking out for their own sake.
4. Sanmin 三民. This is a cute little town, even though there's nothing much to do there. It's very close to Chr Ke Mountain 赤柯山, which (like Sixty Stone Mountain 六十石山 near Dongjhu) is a much more attractive alternative to Taitung's Jin Jen Mountain. You'd probably need a car to get up there, but it's worth a visit.
5. Ruisui 瑞穗. This is one of my favorite parts of Hualien. The Rueisui Pasture south of town is very nice, and there's also no entrance fee for that attraction. It's much better than Taitung's Chulu Pasture, which has an entrance fee.
|People enduring a monumentally boring safety lecture prior to their|
departure from Ruisui.
Rafting trips down the Shiou Gu Lan River also leave from this area. I've been to the staging area, but I've yet to take a rafting trip there (or anywhere else in Taiwan, for that matter). It's... sort of pretty, but the reason I'm not in any hurry to go rafting there is the fact that they have a "virtual rafting trip" showing their route at the East Coast National Scenic Area Visitor's Center. The scenery in the video isn't all that impressive.
In my opinion the best thing about Ruisui is the hot springs. Yes, it's a long haul to get there, but I think some of the hot springs in Ruisui are better (and less touristed) than anywhere else.
6. Fuyuan 富源. There's a whole big forest recreation area here, and I swear I've been to it, but I can't remember anything about it. Must have been a while ago.
|Dafu Train Station.|
7. Dafu 大富. Just a touch north of Fuyuan. Doubt it's worth messing with.
8. Guangfu 光復. There's one of the "resorts" (old sugar refineries) run by the Taisugar Corporation here. If you're tired of driving it's an OK place to stop. They sell lunchboxes, ice cream, and various knicknacks, and there's an ornamental pond full of fish.
The town itself is fairly big, but there's little to do there. I suppose when people in Guangfu get bored they can always stare at the mountains. The view from that town is very impressive.
|If this picture disgusts you, you are a) American, b) a vegetarian,|
or c) both!
9. Wanrong 萬榮. For whatever reason, we once drove there, parked the car, and walked around Wanrong for half a day. I can thus affirm that there is not much to do in Wanrong. This said, the pigs' feet at Man Mei Pig Feet 滿妹豬腳 are the best I've ever had (and I've had a lot).
Google Maps also says there's an aboriginal museum 萬榮鄉原住民文物館 and a hang gliding center 萬榮飛行傘基地 near there. I've never been to either place.
Fenglin 鳳林. Downtown Fenglin is surprisingly well developed, but, again, there's not much to do. I do remember this one time when we couldn't find a hotel room in Hualien City, and after a couple unsuccessful attempts to find a room elsewhere we wound up in Fenglin. The hotel where we stopped had a room, but it looked so terrible that my wife insisted we drive home instead of staying the night in Hualien.
|"The Principal's Dream Factory" in Fenglin.|
"The Principal's Dream Factory" 鳳林校長夢工廠 wins the award for most strangely-named tourist stop in the whole rift valley. I tried to go in there once, but it was closed. Someone explained the name to me, but I've forgotten. Can't be that interesting?
I ran a road race through this area many years ago. I remember it being very pretty, though I haven't stopped there since. The resort where the race started had a nice hot spring inside.
Nanping 南平. I'm drawing a big ol' blank. My friend Google says there's a "bee classroom" 鳳林蜜蜂生態教育館 just south of there. Might be weird enough to be interesting?
|Shikou Train Station, in the middle of nowhere.|
Shikou 溪口. Nope. (I think this station was decommissioned)
Fengtian 豐田. Also nope. (For all I know, this station was decommissioned, too)
Shoufeng 壽豐. A Taiwanese friend once mentioned the Li Chuan Fish Farm 立川魚場. She said it was "very fun," though of course my idea of fun and other people's idea of fun often differ. I still haven't been, though my wife and I talk about going there every time we pass through Shoufeng.
Pinghe 平和. Just south of Pinghe is where the highway splits in two. If you keep to the right you'll head toward Hualien City, if you veer left you'll be on another road leading to Liyu Lake 鯉魚潭. Liyu Lake is one of the more scenic spots in Hualien County, and if you've got wheels it's definitely worth visiting. That road leading to Liyu Lake, by the way, also winds its way to Hualien City via Jian.
Jrshue 志學. This is the stop for Dong Hua University, the biggest, most importantest university in Hualien. The campus is very famous, and even though it won't blow your mind it can be pretty on a sunny day.
There's also an awesome swimming pool there. Keep this in mind if you're in that area, if it's summer, and if you're dying to go swimming. The swimming pool has strange hours, so it's best to check their hours before you go.
|Map of Jian. Not much to do...|
Jian 吉安. Regardless of what the maps say, this is also Hualien City. There's traffic, there's big buildings, and there's people everywhere. Not much for tourists though.
Hualien 花蓮. Hualien City has a population roughly three times that of Taitung City. The traffic in downtown can be intense, and it's often rainier than anyone would like, but it definitely has its good points and is worth visiting.
But before I attempt to introduce Hualien, remember that this entry is titled "...According to... My Faulty Memory." There are probably a TON of places I'm forgetting, and what I say here is not intended as a comprehensive guide to that city. If you're going there, don't just take my word for it, seek out other sources of information.
|Amei Tribe "Cookie Museum" in Hualien.|
This said, south of downtown Hualien there's the Amei Tribe "Cookie Factory" 阿美麻糬. This place is super touristy, but I've had a lot of fun there on previous occasions. You can buy cookies on the first floor, and there's a small museum on the second floor. It's a lot like other "cookie museums" further north in Yilan 宜蘭.
Don't bother with Farglory Amusement Park 遠雄海洋公園 , however. The ticket prices are ridiculous, and one or two of the rides are always closed for repairs.
Just up from the Amei Tribe "Cookie Factory" is Hualien's Seashore Park 海濱公園. It's generally boring and dirty, but on the weekend they have a night market that's not bad. Just don't think about where most of the plastic cups and straws are bound to end up.
|Hualien's FE 21. Not especially interesting.|
Unlike Taitung, Hualien actually has its own department store, the FE 21. It's not as big as other FE 21s on the west coast, but if you're looking for air conditioning it's a good place to go. No movie theater though.
Hualien also has a bigger night market in the center of town. I haven't eaten all the food there, but I remember the shiao long bao 小籠包 being delicious. There's also a great barbecue restaurant near there, but I'm forgetting the name!
North Hualien City is weird and interesting. If you go up by the Hualien Port 花蓮港 there's a trail that winds its way up the coast, and it's nice even though the scenery is far from natural. Even further north is the Taiwan Beer Distillery 花蓮觀光酒廠, which has good food and beer on tap. It's a bit of a drive from downtown - and pretty much impossible to walk to - but it's worth seeking out. Still further north is Seven Stars Beach 七星潭 - but that place is kind of lame, and not good for swimming.
|Taroko Gorge National Park.|
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention Taroko Gorge National Park 太魯閣國家公園, which is northwest of Hualien City. It's one of the most famous things in Taiwan, and on a sunny day the scenery can be glorious. Be warned that it rains a lot in that area, and on a rainy day even the most glorious national park can be disappointing. If you missed that Amei Cookie Museum, there are also a hundred more opportunities to buy cookies between downtown Hualien and Taroko. By that point, however, you'd be in a taxi or riding a scooter, and thus far away from the nearest train station.
That, I think, just about covers the Hualien half of the Hualien-Taitung Line. Any places I forgot? Probably, but it's not all due to my faulty memory. Some places just aren't worth going to.
|The Su Hua Highway - stunning, but far from any train station.|
Getting Lost Near Highway 11 在台11線附近迷路
Taitung 台東 to Chrshang 池上, According to the Hualien-Taitung Line 花東線 and My Faulty Memory
Taitung 台東 to Fangliao 枋寮, According to the South-Link Line 南迴線 and My Faulty Memory
Some Pictures from Tainan 台南