Het is alweer een eindje geleden dat jullie iets van ons hoorden, maar we hebben hier zeker niet stil gezeten! Sinds drie augustus wonen we één jaar samen in Taiwan. (Hoera voor ons! 🎉) Een jaar dat voorbij gevlógen is, mede dankzij de vele toeristen die eens kwamen kijken waar wij nu verbleven.
Het bezoekersfestival startte in maart met een korte try-out van vier dagen. De kop was eraf en vanaf april waren we klaar voor vollen bak overkomste van ouders, familie en vrienden. De grote Buddha en de Lotus Pond hebben na zes tripjes geen geheimen meer voor mij!
Do you remember our adventure in Yehliu Park? Where we would walk in between the rocks after a pretty drive? And where it started raining as we entered the park? Indeed, we didn’t get to see a lot of Yehliu Park.
This weekend, we discovered something alike. Our plan was to visit Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock. This is a cave, or more a big rock that rises out of the sea and looks like an elephant. For real! 🐘
When we arrived at the tiny coastal village northeast of Taipei, we noticed a lot of people. It was a holiday weekend in Taiwan because of the Mid-Autumn Festival, so a lot of people were visiting their families. We had no idea if attractions like these would be more crowded than on a regular weekend. In this case, it was a yes.
We had to walk past a very pretty port that was a bit mysterious because of the sunset playing with the mist.
A bit further, we reached the beach which was in fact a rocky beach. You could see the beautiful shapes everywhere formed by sea erosion.
After a short walk, you can ‘climb’ up the hill. The first thing we saw were tourists. But like, a lot of them! But the view was nice, so it was worth it.
The Elephant Trunk Rock mad us think about an elephant. Yes, my imagination matched the Taiwanese! To be sure I sent some pictures home to check if they could see it too and they did! We had to wait a while to take the perfect picture without anybody else in the viewvinder, but we did it! Go check it out yourself, do you see an elephant?
On the other side of the rock there was another interesting landscape. The landscape looked like the lunar surface. On the other hand, I had to think about Yehliu Park, where we didn’t get the chance to walk in between the ‘mushrooms’. They were a lot smaller than in Yehliu, but it’s better than seeing nothing, I guess? 🤷🏼♀️
There was almost nobody compared to the mass looking at the Elephant Rock, so we decided to play a little game. We didn’t have our tripod with us, but we put the camera on a rock and used timer on my camera: let the game begin! We had a good laugh and so we had our own adventure in our mini-Yehliu Park!
Was it fun? For sure! There were a lot of rocks waiting to get a name. We didn’t find any Queen’s head, but there were enough other options. If it is possible, try to plan your visit on a weekday during the afternoon. It is not that crowded and the lighting when the sun is setting is just perfect.
One of the most breathtaking places we’ve already visited in Taiwan is (to me) the Thousand Island Lake and Crocodile Island Viewing Platform. Once again, the name doesn’t come from the crocodiles in the water because there aren’t any. Neither are there thousand islands or even a lake. Let’s say the Taiwanese are very good at picking creative names for their places. (Think about that Elephant Mountain, where you should see an elephant from a certain angle 🤷🏼♀️)
No, where does the name Thousand Island Lake come from?
In fact, it’s an area formed by man. It all looks very natural because of the beautiful colors and if you’re lucky, the light, low-hanging, misty clouds.
In 1987 people built an enormous dam to solve the water problems in Northern Taiwan, it is called the Feitsui Reservoir. This is, in fact, the Thousand Island Lake. A lot of mountains have been flooded and that’s how the ‘islands’ got their shape. But why did they choose for the name ‘thousand island’?
In North-East China there’s a lake, also made by man, with literally thousand islands. The building technique was the same, and the mountaintops form a thousand islands. The name is just a copy of the Chinese, bigger version, of the Thousand Island Lake. (Why make it hard when it can be sooo easy? 🤷🏼♀️)
Then we still have the name ‘Crocodile Island’. You have to use your imagination on this one. If you look really good, you’ll see the shape of a crocodile in the green island in the middle of the picture. (I told you, you needed some fantasy! 🐊)
When you’re in the around, don’t forget to visit the tea fields. The area is known for them and believe me, you’ll find a lot of tea fields. You can join a tea ceremony, visit the tea fields of the famous Pingling and Oolong tea or just enjoy the beautiful view.
After a short drive from Taipei, you can visit a village called Shifen. This place is popular for three things: the Shifen waterfall, the old (closed) mines and the lanterns at Old Street. New for us: the tourists. It was the first time we visited a touristic place in Taiwan. There are so many calm places in Taiwan and most of the times, you run into very few people during your trip.
We visited two attractions: the waterfall and Old Street to launch a flying lantern into the sky.
The hike towards the waterfall takes 15 to 20 minutes and therefore you have to walk across two suspension bridges.
In Taiwan, they have another name for their Shifen Waterfalls: The Mini Niagara Falls. I think it’s a bit overrated with a height of 40 meters, but hey! It still is a beautiful place to discover!
On our way to the waterfall, we did see train tracks on several places. These tracks pass through Shifen Old street, but more on that later! I read you can also walk from the waterfalls to Old Street by following the train tracks. The hike should take approximately 30 minutes.
We took the same way back to go to our next stop. When we passed Shifen by car during the morning, we did see a lot of lanterns in the sky. This is how we decided to come back during the late afternoon to release one ourselves.
When we arrived at Old Streed (which is very close to the waterfall), we immediately saw the train tracks and the little stores with lanterns. Every shop offers lanterns in all kinds of colors so you can choose what you wish for.
The red one represents a wish for a good health, peace, and fortune in life. The white one makes you wish for a bright future. You can also choose to wish for a good marriage, luck in your studies or at work. There’s also a lantern to wish for money. I’m wondering if it would work 💸There’s also a lantern to make a súperwish. Each side has a different color so you can wish for a lot of things at once! If something goes wrong after releasing this lantern… Then I don’t know 🌈😅
After a short walk through Old Street (no, it’s really not that long), we decided to release one ourselves, but only after sunset.
In the meantime, we could (again) enjoy a beautiful sunset. It has already been raining a lot during the weekends. A lot more than on weekdays. Sometimes, I think the weather gods are just making fun of us. 🤷🏼♀️ But hey, the good thing is: if the clouds open up you get to see one beautiful sunset! 🧡
One drink later, it was dark, so that meant that we could start decorating our lantern! 🏮🙌🏼
Once we had chosen the right color, they attached it to some kind of clothing rack. Then it was up to us to decorate our masterpiece. On every rack, there’s a small pot filled with ink and some pencils. Not spilling on my white t-shirt was the hardest part. (By the way: nailed it! 😏)
Once your lantern is ready, they offer you a full-option all-in service. One of the employees uses your camera to take pictures of you, holding your lantern in all possible angled. Including the obligatory peace-sign picture ✌🏼 Now it’s funny to look back at these pictures, so you just have to go with the flow. Another coworker lights your lantern and 3, 2, 1: release! Then it is just a matter of following ‘your light’ until it dies. We managed to follow it until the light went out. Now we’re just hoping for the best! 🤞🏼
The Pinxi Sky Lantern Festival is a festival that takes place every year in Shifen. It’s never on the same date because they use the Chines calender to count days. In brief, the Festival takes place on the fifeteenth day after Lunar New Year. In 2019 the Festival is on the 19th of February. I wrote it already in our diary! I’ve seen some pictures from previous editions and it seems wonderful. A sky full of lanterns, I’m already looking forward to it! 🏮
Last weekend we decided to make our first trip by car in Taiwan. Driving a car in Taiwan when you’re coming from a small country in Europe is one serious adventure, trust me!
The weekend would be rainy so we decided to go north, all the way to the coast. The weather is often better at the seaside, so fingers crossed!
On one of my many lists I wrote down the Yehliu Park. I really wanted to go there after I had seen some pictures on the internet. The Yehliu park is a geopark, located in Northern Taiwan. What to expect? You’ll find some beautiful rock formations that got their shape due to the impact of wind and sea erosion. You can walk among the ‘mushrooms’ and take brilliant pictures of the rusty colored environment.
Long story short: we arrived on about 4 p.m., the sun was shining and the weather was beautiful! We could see all kinds of fishing boats and a lot of tourists were making pictures with a beautiful background.
Until we found a right parkingspot and bought ourselves an entrance ticket (80 NTD), it started to rain. But like, really hard. We already got soaked twice that day, so we decided to leave. We didn’t get the chance to see a lot of the rocks, but we will definitely go back.
In one of the ‘mushrooms’ you should be able see the head of England’s Queen Elizabeth I. There’s always a long que, but it is the most famous rock of the site. I haven’t seen it, so I’m not sure if you do recognize a head in the shape of the rock. Anyone who did?