Day 5 – Taipei
This was the fifth day into our Taiwan tour and we planned to explore Yehliu Geopark, Xin Beitou Hot Spring and Danshui Old Town area. So we had breakfast very early around 7.15 am.
The restaurant resembled more like a canteen but was colourful and trendy and in fact the ambience was pretty nice. The buffet spread was surprisingly quite decent. There was a salad bar and of course fruits section as well. The drinks counter was well equipped and we could get special coffee from the coffee dispenser.
Main course consisted of Chinese and western food and was rather good as well. There were two pots of soup available too. We also loved the mini croissants and we had quite a few.
The breakfast was really enjoyable and a great way to start our day. Hotel Green World is not even a four-star hotel. So far our experience had been exceptionally good.
After breakfast, we went back to our room to freshen up. We then packed up and left the hotel for our first attraction for the day. It was near to 9 am and it was a little cloudy in Taipei. We walked to Taipei West Bus Station and went to queue for the Kuo-Kuang Bus Line 1815. The bus came shortly and we were on our way north out of Taipei City.
After passing through villages up and down some narrow and hilly roads, we arrived at the road junction near to Yehliu Harbour. A number of passengers including ourselves planning to visit Yehliu Geopark alighted. In fact, the bus driver did announce this was the place to alight for those who wished to visit Yehliu Geopark and directed us to walk along a road to reach the Geopark. The bus journey took about an hour and fifteen minutes and it was about 10.20 am when we arrived.
So we walked along the road with Yehliu Harbour on our left. There were many fishing boats moored at the harbour. The fishing boats looked a little messy being lined so close to each other. However, the waters at the harbour looked quite clean.
On the right of the road were buildings with shops and restaurants that made up the amenities of this small fishing town. The restaurants here are mainly seafood restaurants which are not surprising.
As we walked along enjoying the harbour view, we saw a number of big tour buses driving towards the Geopark. We thought we would have to contend with the crowds at the Geopark later. So we quickened our pace.
We soon reached the entrance to the Geopark. It was packed with noisy tourists. Immediately, I joined a queue to purchase tickets into the park. Thankfully, I managed to get our tickets in under ten minutes. Queuing outside the Geopark with the huge crowd wasn’t very enjoyable, let alone meaningful.
The entry fee to the Geopark was NTD 80 per person. We wasted no time to enter the park. With so many people trying to get into the park and with many already inside, we decided to walk and head all the way into the very end of the Geopark to begin our exploration from there. There was no point jostling for space with this crowd and it would be close to impossible to take nice pictures with them around.
Most of the attractions are near the entrance and the middle part of the Geopark. So we let these tourists have fun at the park first while we enjoyed some peace and quietness at the other end of the Geopark.
We passed many interesting sandstones formations with crowds of noisy and rowdy tourists hanging out taking pictures as we made our way to the end. This end was an uphill trail with vegetation and trees that made this place looked more like a park.
It was quite deserted here. Once we reached this section of the Geopark, we took our time to ascend the hill and we enjoyed the walk. The air was fresh and with the sea breeze blowing our way, it was an enjoyable experience indeed. There were some birds chirping on trees and we relished the peace at this side of the park looking out at sea.
The skies were a little overcast and we worried it might open up any moment. The distant shore looked small while Yehliu town was still visible. The coastline formation on both sides leading back to mainland was pretty. Near vertical cliffs meeting the sea at the rocky base were quite spectacular. It was quite similar to parts of Northern Ireland we visited some years back. Had this been a sunny day with clear blue skies, such beautiful scenic site would no doubt be magnified many times.
Looking back to town and Yehliu Geopark rock formations from higher ground was a good idea. It was a pretty sight. We wondered why many tourists won’t come to this part of the Geopark. Perhaps it was good they didn’t come so there might still be some peaceful and quiet spots for those who wished to enjoy the park in a slightly different way for a little different experience.
We find spending time at this part of the park quite therapeutic. We could enjoy the beautiful sight of the rock formations below as well as the interesting coastline a distance away from shore. The enchanting view of the deep blue sea with the passing boats and a distant island from shore was great to behold as well.
After enjoying this serene park for 45 minutes, we decided to descend and head for the middle section of the Geopark to look at the rock formations. There were still quite a number of visitors at the middle section. A small café was below this end of the of the park where we walked pass on the way to the middle section.
The middle part of the Geopark has some connecting bridges with a water pool below. There are proper walking paths along the way. For the lower section of the sandy rock formations, there is a raised wooden platform for visitors to use to reach the various interesting rocks at this part of the Geopark. There is a red warning tape near the edge of the sea to prevent visitors from venturing beyond this line and fall off into the sea.
Rangers were also present warning visitors to observe park rules and safety precaution. Some inconsiderate visitors might be tempted to climb some rocks to take pictures as trophies thus damaging them in the process. This middle section was probably the best attraction for visitors to see these unique rocks and have their pictures taken. Hence this was a busy section of the Geopark.
There is also a stone on the ground that looks like the back of a turtle. Visitors crowded round to take picture and some were warned by the ranger against standing on it. Taking pictures of this place with the background of the further end with trees on the hill out to the sea was quite nice, especially in the absence of so many visitors to the park.
Having spent some time at this section of the park, we went around the edges to enjoy the sea view around the park. It was a beautiful sight with rocks along the shoreline of this park with the gentle sea waves washing up against them relentlessly.
The cliffs along part of the Geopark with the rocks in the sea would certainly be a photographer’s paradise. Had this been a great day with clear blue skies, the scenic part of this Geopark would surely be postcard perfect when the whole area is illuminated with the myriad colours of the land and sea. The sea was so clear even in the absence of bright sunlight where we could see the shallow bottom around the edges of the park.
Those holes in some of the cliffs were interesting to behold being washed continuously by the restless sea. The features of the blackened rocks on the sea and near land and the contours of the small cliffs are no less fascinating than the sand baked rocks on land. Watching sea waters washing over these rocks and the edges of the Geopark was another enjoyable experience.
Had we stayed at the 5-star Boutix Resort Hotel across the entrance of the Geopark, we would no doubt have come here early morning to relax and reflect before the busloads of visitors arrive to disturb the peace of this amazing naturally beautiful place. Perhaps Boutix Resort Hotel might be our next choice accommodation should we wish to spend more time to enjoy this Geopark in the future.
Before leaving the Geopark, we went to a last section not far from the entrance to look at more rock features. These rocks have mushrooms like features. They command beauty of their own and attracted sizeable crowds roaming around these rocks to admire and take pictures. These rocks are located on a slight elevation and extending a short distance to the sea shore. This is another unique place of beauty.
Fossil remains are also seen on the ground. The authority has been doing a good job to preserve and protect this place for visitors to be able to continue to come and enjoy this scenic park of natural beauty. Hence, the work of the park rangers should be applauded. They have to remind and warn visitors not to disturb and damage the natural rock formations at the park in their excitement to take trophy pictures to bring home.
With that, we exited the park. A covered dry market was waiting for visitors exiting the Geopark. We went in and walked through at the same time looked at the various stalls and their produce. This market sells mostly dried food stuff especially seafood. At the further section, food stalls are available for those who are hungry after visiting the Geopark and wish to eat something.
We walked though this market and came out only to find more stalls set up on the left at the car park outside the aquarium. Many tour buses were parked there waiting for visitors to return from the day tour. By this time, it was already overcast so we didn’t go over to those tents to have a look and walked out to the main road.
Along the way, we looked at restaurants in town but they mostly offer fresh seafood and we were not keen on seafood. It then started raining so we quickened our pace along the road. We walked further and came to a small restaurant also offering seafood but with other food as well. As such, we went in and ordered rice sets without seafood. This traditional Taiwanese rice set was great. The food was delicious and we had a very nice and hearty lunch.
It was around 1 pm and it was still drizzling when we left this restaurant. We reached the bus stop across the road from where we alighted this morning. Quite a few people were taking shelter at the corridor of the shop houses while waiting for buses.
About ten minutes later a Kuo-Kuang bus came and we boarded the bus and headed back to Taipei City. It was still raining lightly and more passengers boarded the bus along the way and a few had to stand during this hilly road ride down to Taipei which was not that comfortable. The journey to Taipei City took a little longer due to the rain and the traffic conditions.
Once we reached the terminal, we went to the MRT station at the main train station and took a train and went towards Beitou Hot Springs. We alighted at Beitou station and took a shuttle train to Xin Beitou station which was just one station away. It was around 3.20 pm when we exited the station and we walked ahead slightly uphill to explore the area.
Having crossed the road ahead, we walked up to Beitou Hot Springs Resort to have a look. This hotel looks luxurious. This property serves the higher end market. Should we stay at Beitou during our next visit, Beitou Hot Spring Resort would be high on our priority list for accommodation. After checking on their packages we left and continued our uphill stroll.
We crossed the small road over to Beitou Park. This park has a small flowing stream of spring water with bridges connecting various sections of the park. The park has a tranquil setup, a great place for a nice stroll.
Within the park is the library, another main attraction in this Beitou area. It was already late afternoon and we didn’t have much time to explore so we skip the library. With its unique architecture, this library blends perfectly in the hot spring park, a very pleasant building to view from outside.
We went up to the public hot spring park but it was already closed. So we walked further up into the park and crossed a nice wooden bridge over to the other side of the park. We then crossed the road and went into Atami Hotel just right in front to check their hot spring packages.
The hotel lobby was spacious and the hotel looked presentable but the hotel was not busy at all. We checked the hot spring packages and took a look at their hot spring facilities. The hot spring baths are located at the basement. Front desk staff called the keeper in charge to show us the facilities. The hot spring room was clean and the cost was NTD 600 for 90 minutes use of the facility. So we took up the offer.
Inside the hot spring bath room was a recliner chair. Towels were provided. Shampoo and body wash were provided from a dispenser mounted on the wall. The stone bath was good enough for two persons to sit in. The hot spring water from the ground contained sulphur and other minerals. We filled up the bath but didn’t find the sulphur smell overpowering.
After a few dips of about 15 minutes each and resting in between, we showered, changed and returned the key to the keeper. We felt sleepy after each dip and 90 minutes was more than sufficient to enjoy a good hot spring bath. Hair dryers were available and we dried our hair and rested for a short while at the basement lobby. The hot spring bath was great and when we were ready, we left Atami Hotel.
It was getting dark around 5.30 pm as we strolled along the road downhill back towards Xin Beitou MRT station. The small stream of hot spring water flowing down along the road was pleasant and pleasing to the eye.
There are more hot spring hotels along the road. We reached the traffic junction and shops and restaurants were nicely lit up with the unmistakable MacDonald Restaurant in this part of town. We crossed the road with more apartments on the right and headed back towards Xin Beitou MRT station.
From here, we took the shuttle train ride to Beitou MRT station and then changed train to head north towards Danshui area. By the time we exited Danshui MRT station, it was already 6.20 pm and the whole area was already dark.
Danshui looked pretty at night too with buildings nicely lit up and we walked further down towards the old walking street. We were going there to look for a small restaurant we had a meal there a few years back where we had a nice dinner.
We reached the old street and had a quick walkthrough. This street wasn’t very long. There was this restaurant we thought might be the same restaurant we had dinner few years back so we went in and ordered our noodle soup. It wasn’t up to our expectation though as we remembered our previous dinner was much better.
After this quick meal, we roamed this old street again and bought some leather belt and wallets. The prices were considerably lower than what we could find elsewhere. We bought more snacks of the red bean pancakes and ate as we walked and the pancakes were very good.
Gradually we reached Danshui MRT station again and we took a train directly back to Xi Men Ding MRT station. We still had to go back to Net Store to collect my two pairs of jeans sent for alteration after our purchase the previous night.
It was close to 8 pm when we were back in Net Store. We went up to the cashier to present our receipt and the altered pairs of jeans were given to us. We then roamed Xi Men Ding shopping area again and did more shopping.
Xi Men Ding was still as busy as ever with crowds of shoppers thronging the walking streets. After we were done with our shopping, we went over to the food street for supper. The famous restaurant was closed on Monday so the restaurant next door was doing roaring business. We went upstairs in the restaurant and took our seats. We had carrot cakes again and ordered a papaya milk shake as well. The food was fine but not fantastic. The one next door was better.
Once done, we went back to the main road and crossed the road to head back to Hotel Green World. We were sure glad to be back in our warm and welcoming room. It had been a long day and we were quite exhausted.
Of course shower was necessary to make ourselves comfortable for the evening. We spent some time packing as we would be checking out early in the morning to move over the New Stay Inn just across the bus terminal to facilitate our bus journey to Taichung on Wednesday morning.
Finally, we got to rest in bed to chat with our children and showed them pictures on stuff we bought for them. After watching TV for some time, we eventually called it a night.
Staying at Xi Men Ding area was the right decision. This place is rather convenient and Hotel Green World is near Xi Men Ding MRT station which is convenient for us to get to places. The main train station and the bus terminal are within walking distance under ten minutes walk away.
So we retired for the night and prepared to move on with our planned itinerary for the next day. More great time would follow.
Continue to Day 6 …