The Pleasant Land’s End of Taiwan
There was one place that we wanted to visit – Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost area of Taiwan. It reminds us of Land’s End in the UK, sticking out at the end of the country. Let’s hope there’s no amusement arcade here.
I remember we had a holiday when I was heavily pregnant with George, ( I think they call it the Babymoon now) and we visited Land’s End, in Cornwall. To our dismay, it wasn’t the wild and remote place we’d hoped for but quite commercialised. We hoped Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan, was not going to be the same.
Google Maps said the journey by bus would take 2 hr 36 minutes; this seemed excessive considering by car it would only take 30 minutes. Was it a Flinstones bus?
We popped into the 7/11 store to buy some onigiri, little triangular stuffed rice parcels wrapped with seaweed. We discovered them in Japan, and they are our favourite picnic snack. As we came out and strolled to the bus stop, thinking that we had nearly 15 minutes to wait, suddenly the bus arrived!
And 30 minutes later we reached Eluanbi town. Oh, Google maps – what’s happened to our trusted friend? We were thrilled to be there earlier than expected, though.
We walked past a row of stalls selling touristy stuff that people don’t need: more clothes, more ornaments, more jewellery, the kind of things that in the past turned me into a magpie, with eyes wide and sparkling looking at the treasures.
We got to the kiosk of Eluanbi Park and saw a young lady stamping a notebook with places she’d visited - what a great idea for kids to collect. We wondered if National Trust did such a thing in the UK.
We paid our TWD$60 each (£1.60) to enter and was informed that the Lighthouse, the main attraction here, was closed for repair. Oh well, from the look on the map, there was more to see than the white 18 m tall lighthouse. It didn’t even have red stripes around it!
Interestingly during the Japanese rule of Taiwan, from 1895 to the end of WWII, they chose this place as one of “Taiwan’s Eight Magnificent Scenic Spots”. I wonder where the other seven were.
The Park consisted of a wide grassy area leading down into a few narrow trails between limestone and ancient coral reefs with trees somehow clinging to the sides. Every so often, we’d hear crunching coming from the dried leaves and see a lizard scampering away. It’s amazing how much noise they made with their tiny feet. It’s as if they were teasing their predators, or they were plain stupid.
It wasn’t just lizards here; the mosquitos were having fun. Usually, I get a concentration of bites on my feet or legs, but these were not so fussy and bit me all over: legs, arms, back, neck. It will be a hot, hot shower in the evening – the best cure I’ve found for stopping the itchiness.
The paths took us to the twisted Banyan, through the narrow gorge and passed the ancient cave. Tim peered in, not much to see apart from one bat twitching in its sleep. We climbed up to the Sea Pavilion where we could see silhouettes of Frog Rock and Sail Rock.
We left the Park and found a short-cut to the actual Southernmost Point of Taiwan. As we wandered up a pathway, we were extremely glad that a large black dog barking at us was on a lead, it didn’t look very friendly, unlike the two French bulldogs inside a fridge! Well, that’s one way of keeping your dog cool!
One thing that we notice consistently with Taiwan is the attention to detail. Along the path down to the coastline, there were pretty inlays of butterflies.
At the endpoint, was the Southernmost Point monument with the Pacific Ocean on our left and the Bashi Channel on our right. Taiwan is not a big island. It takes only 1000 km to circle the island and a 10-hour car ride to reach the northernmost part.
We walked back to town and had just missed a bus. While waiting for the next one, Tim bought some Tea eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs, steeped in a marinade made with tea, soy sauce, and a variety of spices. We had heard that they are delicious. They’re ok, nothing to write home about, and the colouring just makes the eggs look a bit off-colour, a bit green around the gills, if they had any. It’s good to try these local specialities.
It was a very pleasant day here in Eluanbi, we’re a bit surprised that it’s one of Taiwan’s eight magnificent scenic spots and it certainly hasn’t got that rugged charm of Cornwall’s Land’s End. Yes, pleasant seems the best adjective to use here.