Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day trip to Ruisui (瑞穗)

Introduction of Ruisui 
Ruisui (瑞穗) is a township located in southern Hualien, with a population of about 14,800. Its location is in the mid Huatung Valley between Central Mountain Range, Haian Range (Coastal Range) and Wuhe terrace. Ruisui is home to several hot springs and boasts of flourishing agriculture; rice, tea and dairy products are just some of the agricultural produce. Ruisui is also a main stopping off point for rafting trips along the Xiuguluan River.

How to get to Ruisui from Hualien 
From the Hualien train station, you can reach Ruisui in approximately 1 hour 10 minutes. (Actual travel time depends on the number of stops made along the Hualien-Ruisui route. However, it should not take more than 2 hours) Frequency of the trains is fairly high, with about 1 train running every hour. Train fare may vary depending on the train type. (When I took the train from Hualien to Ruisui during my trip in October 2012, I took the Ziqiang train. The train fare was NT143)

Train ticket (Hualien to Ruisui) via Tze-chiang Express

Ruisui Train Station
Upon reaching Ruisui train station, it will be a good idea to take a photo of the train schedule for your return journey to Hualien using your handphone/camera for handy reference so that you can plan your time accordingly. I would personally advise against buying your return tickets right away. This is because at this point in time, you will probably not have a good gauge of the time needed for you to get to various spots, or perhaps even the activities you wish to do. Furthermore, you're on a holiday. Having flexibility allows you more fun!

Exiting the train station, the visitors' information centre can be located on your left. Right beside the information centre is Giant, a bicycle rental shop. There is another shop directly opposite the information centre that offers rental of scooters and bicycles. My travelling companion and I rented a bicycle each from that shop (as it happened to close later. The shop owner apparently lives just nearby and didn't seem to mind closing shop later than the usual 5.30 pm). Bicycle rental cost us NT100 each.

Street view upon exiting the train station

Just gotten our bikes, raring to go.

Rareseed Ranch (瑞穗牧场)
Cycling in Ruisui is pure leisure - breathing in fresh air and taking in the sights of endless lush greenery is simply rejuvenating for the soul. My travelling companion, Bei Bei, and I decided to head for Rareseed Ranch. You won't see huge herds of cows and sheep at this ranch as it is a pretty simple establishment. (In fact, you'll see only some cows and interestingly, two ostriches!) However, it is this simplicity that makes for a nice relaxing getaway from the hectic urban life that we are so used to. There is a cafe that sells food and beverages made using cow milk. I was happy to be embracing the idyllic charm of the peaceful surroundings while enjoying my cheese cake and milk coffee. Bliss!

Arrived at Rareseed Ranch!

Pretty good range of dairy products to satisfy your hunger pangs

The alfresco cafe, perfect to spend a laid-back afternoon

Say hello to the ostrich that stands out among the cows!

Simple pleasures in life :)

Hot Springs
As we began our day pretty late, we decided to give the other attractions (Saoba Stone Pillars, Tropic of Cancer Marker Park and Wuhe Tea Plantation etc) a miss due to lack of sufficient time. Off we went for a soak in the hot springs instead! Ruisui has plenty of hot spring villas/hotels along Wenquan Road. Take your pick and soak your weariness away.

Hot springs galore

Ruisui Hot Springs, steeped in history and tradition

What we didn't get to see - Saoba Stone Pillars (Image obtained from: http://www.erv-nsa.gov.tw/Att/med/11004127.jpg)

What we didn't get to see - Tropic of Cancer Marker (Image obtained from: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tropic_of_Cancer_in_Hualian_Taiwan.jpg)

Going back to Hualien
After a rejuvenating time spent at the hot springs, we checked the snapshot of the train timetable that we had taken earlier in the day and decided to catch the 8.02 pm train back to Hualien. We then cycled to Ruisui train station, returned our bikes and purchased our train tickets. That journey was via the Chu-Kuang Express; slightly cheaper fare at NT 110 but the journey took 1 hr 40 mins, significantly longer compared to the approx 1 hour journey we took from Hualien to Ruisui. Then again, it's absolutely fine if time is not of the essence! ;)

4 comments:

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  3. Hi! I am planning a trip to Hualien end April this year! Would really appreciate it if you could answer some of my questions!
    Without a car,
    1.How do you travel from Taipei City to Hualien county and back? More specifically, do you have to book the train tickets online? How early must you book the train tickets?
    2.How do you travel from Hualien county to Ruisui and back? More specifically, do you have to book the train tickets online? How early must you book the train tickets?

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