Beam Us Down, Scotty
We were not expecting to land on an alien planet today. It was as if we were on Star Trek and said: "Beam us down, Scotty".
We walked back up to the QP café as I’d promised to help Gary with his restaurant project using post-it notes. I had some in my bag – doesn’t everyone travel with them?
We arrived and straight away was offered coffee and I offered my post-it notes. But instead of planning together, Gary and Joyce insisted on driving us to the Laomei Green Reef. How kind! They thought it would take far too long for us to get a bus there.
They locked up their café, leaving an old fashioned cart outside with packets of coffee on top. I said that if these were in the UK, they would be stolen by the time he got back – probably the cart as well. Gary and Joyce seemed astonished. Taiwan is such a safe country, the thought of someone stealing from them seems unbelievable.
We chatted in the car and finally arrived in Laomei, a quaint seaside village with a giant babygrow(!) and narrow winding streets decorated with beautiful murals. These type of paintings really liven up a place.
Eventually, we found a parking place, but to our initial dismay, we couldn’t see any green stone troughs reaching out to sea that we had seen in photos. I had checked the time of the tide and it was supposed to be low tide, so they should have been there. Instead, all we could see was a yellow sandy bay.
Tim walked down to the shoreline further on and thankfully found the strange-looking rocks we’d come to see. Alas, there was no green algae covering them that they are famous for though. I have read that April and May are the best months and was hoping that the season had extended, but no such luck.
Gary, Tim and I walked back down and admired this phenomenon and Tim rightly deduced that the rock fingers were formed from volcanic lava. At least 200,000 years ago, the volcano in the nearby Datun Mountain erupted and the lava quickly cooled down when it touched the sea. Subsequently, sea erosion and tides have worn away some of the rock, shaping the 700 m long reef.
I was concerned that Gary needed to get back to teach at the university, so we said a very fond farewell and went our separate ways. How wonderful to have met this warm, friendly and generous couple. We had heard that the Taiwanese are so welcoming, and we have now experienced this for ourselves many times.
Tim and I wandered around the village, snapping photos of the murals and other interesting items in Laomei village, reaching the bus stop. We didn’t need to wait long before the Bus 716 arrived, otherwise known as the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus: North Coast.
An hour later we arrived at Yehliu Geopark to visit the Queen’s Head, an amazing rock formation that looks like Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s head.
It was lunchtime so we found a great local seafood restaurant for some stuffed and fried squid and some White Water Snowflake, which was a bit like Samphire. The owner had many photos of her with other customers, Tim thought they were famous, so we thought we’d join the gallery and had our photo taken with her.
We paid our ticket (£1.60 total) for the Yehliu Geopark, walked under a tree-lined path, then came out to one of the most breath-taking landscapes we have ever seen – and we’ve seen quite a few! Well, we certainly were not expecting that!
A big picture description of the peninsular is that it’s shaped like a turtle crouching by the sea. Over thousands of years of wind and sea erosion, this has caused the weirdest of shapes to be created from the sedimentary rock; unusually with a variety of rock formations.
There are dark coloured honeycombed holey rocks on top of sandstone. Smooth neat round candle-shaped rocks containing lime, and interlacing patterns on what is called “Ginger Rock”. It must be a geologist’s dream!
We also saw incredible swirls of different coloured sediments – the photo doesn’t do it justice. Strange cracks, joints, ravines and chessboards caused by compression, potholes, some dangerously deep and even beautiful fossils of sea urchins and sand pipes.
It was as if we have joined Star Trek and landed on an alien planet. I am sure we were walking around with our jaws dropped with amazement.
Our walk took us first to see the Cute Princess, Mushroom Rock, Ginger Rock, and in the distance, Carp and Candle Rocks. Nearby was Ice cream rock which Tim enjoyed licking! I managed to find a wonderful fossil before we walked over the Mazu Cave to the iconic Queen’s Head. Her neck is looking precariously thin and it wouldn’t surprise us if she is beheaded in the foreseeable future!
The map showed that the Fairy’s Shoe was nearby. We took some time to find it as we thought it was going to be delicate and tiny – not the large footprint on a flat rock in the ocean. And the neighbouring rock was the Elephant. Mmm…Can you spot the elephant in our photos?
A large statue of Mr Lin Tien-chen stood overlooking the Cape. We read that this was in honour of his brave actions when in March 1964 (when Tim was born) he tried to save a student who had been swept out to sea. Sadly both men lost their lives.
There was also a Speed Trial Station, the round contraption I am standing on, which was used to measure the shipping speed. I haven’t a clue how!
What an incredible place, what views and such a surprise. We had no idea that there was all this treasure here to see! One of the highlights of our Taiwanese trip.
And our bus took us all the way back to Tamsui, a pleasurable two hours passed Jiatouli Hot Spring, Juming Museum, displaying the works of Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming, Peace Garden and Yun Garden, Shimen Arch and Wedding Plaza. Ah, it’s a shame we couldn’t hire a car – there’s plenty to explore here – a fascinating area.
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