Day 21: Taipei and Keelung - 16.4.2015
We had to wake up early in the morning at 6 a.m. because we wanted to see one of Taiwan's big tourist attractions, the Yehliu Geopark. After a short breakfast, we walked to the nearby Ximen MRT-Station and took a train to the Taipei Train Station, where we bought tickets for a cheap local train to Keelung City, which took less than an hour. We exited the train station and went right to the bus stop for the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle, an inexpensive hop-on-hop-off-bus to points of interest, which makes travel for foreigners in Taiwan much easier. Two routes depart from the bus stop: The West Line (formerly North Line) goes to the Yehliu Geopark, while the East Line goes, well, into the east. Soon we boarded the bus, which fortunately wasn't crowded at all and had English service.
After buying the tickets at the reception, we followed the course and first came to a green area with the first natural stone sculptures. It was the perfect appetizer for the main Geopark.
The Geopark lies directly at the ocean, and we soon entered the fields of unique stone sculptures, that nature shaped. There´s so much to see, so we took our time before we walked further towards the cape. Some of the stones even have names, like the Queen´s Head.
We liked it so much, that we didn´t just walk the course, but continued for an excursion upwards to the end of the cape, where the lighthouse is (and a fantastic view). There weren't many people, which was a pleasant change to the rest of the area. Besides us, there only seemed to be fully equipped birdwatchers.
From the cape, we walked back through the Geopark, skipped the long queue for photographing the "Queen´s Head", and were welcomed by a food street at the exit, where I got some mango juice.
We had planned to take the Tourist Shuttle back to Keelung but didn´t want to wait and were seduced by the many waiting cabs at the Geopark. The driver was a bit strenuous, as he wanted us to book a day tour and we had to politely decline this offer several times during the ride. We exited the cab at the Keelung Train Station and first plundered a bakery, before we walked again to the bus stop for the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle, this time waiting for the East Line.
With the East Line of the Tourist Shuttle, we drove to the Zhongzheng Park (Yizheng Park), and the friendly bus driver showed us the direction to the park from the bus stop. It was still a bit to walk, and when we saw a kind of picnic place, we rested and enjoyed some of the bread we had bought at the train station. Our main reason to visit was the towering Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) Statue inside the temple complex. The statue was similar to the one I saw the year before in Kurume, Japan and equally impressive. The temple complex, however, was a bit strange. It was a bit of a mix of temple area and amusement park. After I threw a coin in the lucky fortune spring, we walked further into the west to another temple.
We slowly descended the mountain and came to the Martyr's Shrine before we went to the stairs which ended at a fire station. From there we walked southwards, crossed the river and went to the Miaokou Night Market with the Dianji Temple. There was a lot of traffic and Keelung indeed is a busy town.
From the Night Market, we walked back to the harbour and the Keelung Train Station. Just opposite the train station is the Yangming Oceanic Culture& Art Museum, and the Tourist Shuttle also goes to Heping Island, which - like the Yehliu Geopark - offers curiously shaped stones. But we were exhausted and soon entered a local train back to the Taipei Train Station.
At the Taipei Train Station, we found a restaurant in an underground mall, where we enjoyed pizza, chicken, and pasta. It was just a short drive from the MRT back to Ximen and to the Via Hotel. We really needed to wash some clothes and were happy that they have a washing machine. The machine, however, was utterly different to the ones I know and the Chinese instructions didn't help, so we actually needed to ask the staff for assistance. They were really helpful and sent someone so we could wear clean clothes for our final days in Taiwan.