Experience Taiwan's Northern Coast, The Yehliu Geopark!

One of the reasons, aside from the Taiwan Flora Expo, that excited me for my Taipei trip was to see the Yehliu Geopark. I wanted to experience Taiwan from another point of view. The Taiwan I knew was mountainous and full of national parks and virgin forests. But, if you look at Taiwan in the map, it is completely surrounded by bodies of water like the Philippines. This trip had me exploring Taiwan’s Northern Coast.

Taiwanese Secrets
A few weeks before the trip, Ugo Ortolano of Taiwanese Secrets mentioned that he’s been to the Yehliu Geopark and “it is very beautiful”. That and my original impression when I came across it while browsing the net was enough to tempt me to find a way not to go home without going there.

It wasn’t hard to sell the idea of a geopark to my travel buddies. It was near Taipei and there were beautiful pictures with unique natural structures to take home with us. Besides, this was the first time they heard of the term too.

The only request was to join a tour, at 1000 TW$ per person, ride comfortably in a van and not have to worry on how to get there. The JiuFen experience the day before was probably a little too much for our group. I was determined to go in any way and in any case.

Keelung Tour
The tour included a visit to Keelung City 基隆市區. Keelung is a port city, primarily for commercial and military use. 

There is a Guanyin that faces west to watch over the seas. Ring the bell near it after three half swings and you’ll get good luck for a year. 

There was a brief stop at a jewelry souvenir place and a bakeshop as is often required with tour companies. 

food 280
Photo from http://foodmimosa.blogspot.com/

We bought some thin Almond Pork Jerky (more like crispies for me, like the picture above), which turned out to be quite addicting.

Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園
The Geopark is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The place is like a giant playground filled with masterpieces carved by the wind and the sea. 

The most famous rock is the Queen’s Head. I didn’t get the correct angle with this piece and ended up with the Duck Queen here.

According to studies, this piece will corrode from the bottom eventually. In 40 years, some of the “rock formations” here now will no longer be there due to natural corrosion and also partly due to the start of the heavy influx of tourists over the years. 

There is heavy wind and tourists are advised not to cross the red lines, touch the rocks, climb on the rocks, bike around, dig and carve anything on any formation.

Coming here challenged me to use my imagination and look for the candle rock, the mushroom rock group, the fairy’s shoe and many more formations – each as unique and breathtaking and puzzling as the next. Indeed, it was such a wonder and I was left with "How can so many different beautiful things exist in one place?" Only nature has the answer.

I wish I could go there when there are not that many people around and enjoy the peace, hear the sound of the waves crashing into sandstone, have experts explain to me more about this Geopark, and just take everything in. 

The tourist guide was waiting for us outside and we couldn’t stay as much as we wanted.

DanShui 淡水
DanShui was the last stop of the Red Line in the Taipei Metro and I wanted to go to the beach. Here's the Metro Map I used for this Taipei trip. 

The red brick Metro building was different and I thought I had crossed over to a place definitely not in Taiwan. It looked like a scene from a colonial past. Then I saw the food street and the throng of people. 

We headed back and decided to retreat. Perhaps, we can visit next time to see the coastline.

Taipei Flora Expo at Night (Xinsheng Park Area 新生公園區)
We bought cheaper tickets to catch a final night glimpse of the Taiwan Flora Expo, the part that housed the Pavilion of Dreams and Pavilion of Future. 

We could not enter most of the exhibition halls since it required waiting in line a few hours before to get a slot but we had fun outside. 

The future exhibit brought us closer to a plant that reacts to music, 

future kitchens and living rooms adorned with edible plants, 

and a greenhouse filled with different kinds of plants in a simulated environment that imitated the temperatures where these plants only grow. 

My favorite of them all was the meditation room where I was challenged to go in and be quiet for 15 minutes and sit at one place while projected curtains of flowing water with matching sounds surrounded me. 

It was the perfect way to end the night and the trip.

Going Back
This short Taiwan getaway was a breath of fresh air for me. 

The recurring theme was calmness for the abundance I have in my life and an appreciation for nature that I seldom find in the city. 

The trip was enlightening, the serenity was addicting, harmony was at play and I got what I came for - just a glimpse of what's available.