Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Taipei Day Four: Naturally Wonderful and Strange

Waves crash over rock formations that look like candles at Yehliu Geopark
This morning, our last day in Taipei, there was light rain but we pressed on to Yehliu, over an hour's drive from the city. There is Yehliu Geopark, where you can see interesting rock formations due to erosion.

Standing by the Queen's Head
The land was created by cross movements of the Philippine and Eurasian plates, and the seashore containing limestone is also affected by marine erosion and weathering.

As a result there are various areas of the park that with a bit of imagination, have led to interesting rock formations as well as fossils of urchins, also called sand dollars. 

When we arrived it was very windy with light rain. To shield us from the elements, we donned lightweight plastic yellow ponchos that made us look like aliens next to the other tourists, most of whom were mainlanders.

Before we entered the park we were obliged to watch an eight-minute video introducing the area, which is a UNESCO site. The most famous rock formation is called Queen's Head for its profile of a regal-looking woman, while others look like giant mushrooms, pieces of ginger, a pineapple bun, a sandal and even candles.

A sand dollar spotted on the ground, one of many in the park
Before I go on, we watched the video with a group of mainland tourists. Two of them (men) in the front row, one with an iPad, the other with a camera started recording the video. A female staff member told them not to record anything so they put their devices down, but only for a few seconds and then proceeded to record the rest of the video. Even their tour guide didn't say anything even though he stood near them!

The end of the video warns people not to cross the red lines marked in the park or to touch the rocks. And what do many of them do when they start wandering the park? Security guards were constantly blowing whistles and telling them not to touch the rocks… imagine having a job like that all day…

The rocks here look like giant pieces of ginger
In any event we enjoyed seeing the various natural rock sculptures that were quite a curious sight. They are located very close to the water where there are rough waves, hence the red line. Our guide told us there have been incidents where tourists have stepped over the line to get a better shot and then were washed away into the sea!

The Fairy Shoe was one of our first sightings, what looked like a giant sandal and the Queen's Head. There was a long line of mainlanders so I snuck past them off the side to take a quick shot. It was only from that particular angle that the face could be seen otherwise it looked like an ordinary rock.

The tranquil pond at Culture Park of the Chiangs
I also spotted a few sand dollars, but they weren't particularly protected – or was it because they were too small have a ring around them, as people stepped all over them on the ground.

Nevertheless it was definitely worth the visit. We did see a few cranes, but perhaps because it was so windy or we weren't in the right place that we didn't see any other birds.

After lunch we headed to Daxi township in Taoyuan County where we checked out the Culture Park of the Chiangs. When Chiang Kai-shek was in power, he liked to visit places all over Taiwan and pick the best ones for his many residences. 

Some of the hundreds of statues of Chiang Kai-shek...
And to commemorate Chiang, many places from schools to government buildings, parks and thoroughfares had busts and statues of him.

But after Chen Shui-bian came to power in 2000 ending over 50 years of Kuomintang rule, he decided Taiwan should have a fresh start and ordered all of Chiang's statues be removed.

A good number of the over 3,000 busts and statues ended up in this park, as the scenery is reminiscent of his homeland in Xikou, Zhejiang. The area is quite pleasant, with a pond full of fish, green grass and paths for visitors to walk on.

... as well as busts of the Generalissimo that line the park
But it is strange to see so many likenesses of the Generalissimo all over the place, some arranged in circles as if having discussions with himself! The other interesting thing is that they all seem to look the same, wearing the Mandarin suit with a grandfatherly smile.


  1. Taiwan is an awesome place! I loved the night markets around the city, the tranquil environment in the countryside. I want to visit again if I get another chance.

  2. Hi Winza! Thanks for your comment. I quite enjoyed Taiwan too, lots of things to see and do, and in particular the people are friendly and polite.