Taiwan (Country #22) – part 2 of 3

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (Part 2 of 3)
March 17-23, 2010

March 19, 2010
SUNRISE SHOOT/NANYA ROCK FORMATIONS/YEHLIU GEOPARK

At 4 am we were all set and ready to go. Where? Apparently no one really knew. The guide didn’t understand where the group wanted to go (even though my husband and one of our friends told her the previous day where we wanted to shoot). An hour and ½ later towards the north of Taiwan, we thought we didn’t find “THE” place we were looking for but due to time constraints (the sky was a bit lit already) we had to settle for where we were. Not being a very big fan of hardcore landscape photography anymore, I had the luxury of taking useless shots (I actually really missed not having to care about the “shot”), taking paparazzi shots of my friends and enjoying the sunrise on top of rocks with the sea and mountains as my view.  Once the landscape photographers had their fill (and the light was too harsh) we left our sunrise spot.

Sunrise

Fellow Photographer

Our second destination for the day was the Nanya rock formations area. The northern coastline of Taiwan, where the they can be found, is known for sculpted rock formations brought about by the movement and force of the waves upon the rocks made out of sandstone. All these are part of the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area. Once again we stopped to take pictures – amazed with the magnificent coastline.  As soon as everyone got the shot that they wanted (jump shots along deserted highways included) we started moving north once again in search of our seafood lunch.

Nanya Rock Formations (Taken by Joseph Leh)

Since it was still a bit early for lunch, only a few establishments were willing to serve us food. For 275 NT/person, we got a simple lauriat style lunch that consisted of unlimited rice, fish soup, boiled chicken (yes, boiled chicken), steamed fish, seaweed gelatin, squid, and a couple of more dishes that I cannot remember.

After brunch, a number of our friends wanted to go up the Bitou Cape. Since most of us were still tired from our flight and hardly got any sleep the night before, the majority stayed in the bus and slept.

After a while, I had to go to the bathroom so a friend and I started walking around the area and found ourselves discovering the Bitou seaside port. Even for just a while, we were able to immerse ourselves in a real Taiwan setting. We found a quaint little temple in the middle of the small residences, saw boats and fishermen and a beautiful viewing deck which looked out to the coast. And after a 2 hour or so wait, our friends came back down and we moved on to our next stop.

Temple Details

Bitou Seaside Port View

The last stop in our itinerary for the day can now be considered as one of my favorite Taiwan destinations – Yehliu Geopark. The park can be found along the North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area. This consists of a vast area of sedimentary rocks that have formed into different shapes and sizes through time. One of the most popular rock formation is called the Queen’s head which actually looks like the profile of a lady with a crown. The allotted time given to us to go around the park was not enough. But this is the type of natural beauty that makes one realize how lovely our world truly is. And I know how lucky I am to be able to see such picturesque places. Taiwan has been truly blessed with natural wonders and next time I hope we get to see more.

Yehliu Geopark

Queen’s Head Rock (Taken by Joseph Leh)

We stopped at another area for the landscape enthusiasts (sunset, sunset, sunset!) which was I think just some random place we passed by on our way back to the city. Had dinner near our hotel and called it a day.

March 20, 2010
SUNRISE SHOOT/BITOU CAPE/YANGMINSHAN NATIONAL PARK

Another early start for all of us – 4 am we were all sort of ready to go (I think my husband and I were the last ones who were ready this time). First stop another sunrise shoot! I wasn’t so excited for it but it turned out pretty well for me considering I didn’t have a tripod (my husband is usually first dibs on our tripod).

Sunrise

Then much to my dismay, everyone wanted to go back to the Bitou Cape (which is apparently one of the three capes of northern Taiwan). Yesterday, in addition to not having the energy to walk the trail, no one really wanted to walk 1.5km uphill in the middle of the day. But they said that the “lolas” / older people could actually climb up in 30 mins so with a heavy heart and a scowl on my face I dragged my feet and climbed up with the rest. It was a pretty long walk (every hike becomes harder in jeans!) but the view at the Bitou cape lighthouse (Pitouchiao lighthouse) was breathtaking. The lighthouse was 120 meters tall and was first built in 1897. The current steel-made lighthouse was completed in 1971. They wanted to go down some hundred steps or so to get a closer view of the coast but I was happy where I was and was glad to have some alone time. So I sat by my lonesome for around an hour and 1/2 and while listening to my Ipod, enjoyed the view and relished in the peacefulness on top of the cape.

Bitou Cape

The downside of this trip were the casualties; nothing too bad as having to rush someone to the hospital but a couple of people slipped and fell, including my husband. He fell when they were near the coast and hurt his leg a bit but it wasn’t that serious. On the other hand, in order to break his fall he used our tripod (our very expensive tripod) and ended up breaking one of its legs. I would’ve preferred that or a camera or a lens breaking over my husband hurting himself but nevertheless seeing our carbon fiber tripod become slightly useless was a painful sight (the tripod cannot be used to its full height unless we have the leg replaced). So when they came back up, that was his news for me.  My peace flew straight out the window. Going back down was easier since we passed through the Bitou Elementary School (the climb up would’ve been easier as well if we passed that way).

We had another healthy lauriat lunch at a hotel on the way to Yangminshan National Park. This national park is unique since it is the only park in Taiwan with hot springs and a volcanic geography. Upon our arrival we realized that the Bus couldn’t drop us closer to the flower clock that was located at the Yangming park. Since it was considered the flower season, hordes of tourists go to the park to see the flowers in bloom and to see the clock. So it was another 1.5 km hike to the clock and we had roughly an hour to get to the clock and back to the bus. So once again, we split up into groups and a couple of us decided to just stay near the park’s entrance and lounge around.

On our way back to the city we stopped by the Grand Hotel in Taipei which is one of the tallest classic Chinese structure. It must be pretty expensive to stay there but the hotel lobby was grand and elegant; perfect for foreign ambassadors and guests.

Grand Hotel

We had dinner at a shabu-shabu place. They had good food but not very filling for people who like to eat a lot. But my husband and I always enjoy shabu-shabu so we were happy with this choice.

We went back to the hotel after dinner, rested a bit then those of us who still had energy went back to the Shilin market. We finally got a chance to try the 100 NT steak dinner. It was surprisingly good despite its price. Some of the guys tried one of the many foot spas around the market while the girls went shopping. It was past midnight when we finished so we had to take a cab back to the hotel (MRTs are only open till midnight).

This was the end of our 2 day bus tour around Taipei. It was tiring but I suppose because of it my love for photography was ignited once again.

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