The Rain falls mainly on Penghu Island
Days 918 – 921
Until I wrote this blog, I thought we were travelling next to Penghu Island, but officially it's the Archipelago of ninety islands that are called Penghu. We were staying on Mahong Island. Whatever it is called - it rained - a lot!
We woke to the sound of pitter-patter on the pane. It was raining and the forecast for our five days on an island with golden beaches was not looking promising.
We arrived at Taichung Airport for our domestic flight, our temperature was checked as soon as we entered, put on the mandatory masks and adhered to the 1.5m social distancing as we queued for security.
As we exited the Airport to get onto our flight, we were pleasantly surprised to be given umbrellas. What great service! We were off to Penghu Islands, an Archipelago of ninety islands off the west coast of Taiwan mainland.
We were flying into Magong, the largest of the islands and staying at the south tip called Shanshui.
While flying over the Island, I noticed a long stretch of white beach jutting into the sea. The Tourist Map described this as “like a dragon in the sea. The beauty of the sand tail at Jibei is always beyond description”. Let’s hope we can go there.
Jason, our hotel host, greeted us at the Airport and let us into our spacious room early. We rested for a bit and then suddenly heard raucous laughter from below. Ah – that means Claudia and Celso have arrived.
We greeted our friends and once they had unpacked, hopped on our hired scooters to go for lunch. Sadly it was still raining, so Jason gave us rain macs, Celso’s sleeves seemed to have shrunk in the wash!
The rest of the day, we relaxed and played cards. Claudia and Celso taught us a great game with two packs; the first game you need three-of-a-kind, the 2nd – 2 x three-of-a-kind, the third four-of-a-kind going all the way to 2 x six-of-a-kind. Having a look online, it might be a version of 12-step Rummy. It made our German Whist that Tim and I often play, relatively tame!
The next morning, by the time Tim and I were up, our Mexican friends had already walked down to the beach. After breakfast, we left Celso relaxing while we hopped on the scooters to a cove to go snorkelling. I let the side down and decided to watch Claudia and Tim swim; the water was too cold and choppy for me. It was amusing to see a group of Taiwanese coming out from the sea with wet suits, boots and life jackets on, a contrast to Claudia and Tim in their swimsuit and shorts respectively.
Between the live coral, they could see blue, yellow and stripy brightly coloured tropical fish. It sounded terrific; I missed out there big time!
Just as the swimmers returned to shore, the heavens opened. We quickly got on the scooters, but Claudia couldn’t see where she was going. Hooting with laughter, she put on her snorkelling goggles – that did the trick!
Luckily the rain stopped so the four of us went on a jaunt around the Island. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to see the Jibei dune as it is on an islet and no boats are going there at the moment due to the decrease in tourist numbers.
We stopped off at a little village and admired the walls that resembled our British dry-stone walls, but were made from great chunks of coral. We just hope that these were dug up from the soil rather than taken from the sea.
One of the houses looked intriguing, decorated with recycling paraphernalia, including a bright blue and white whale made from bottle caps.
We arrived at Magong City and after lunch walked down Zhongyang Old Street, with red brick pillars, lanterns, wooden houses and narrow lanes giving an ancient feel to the place. At the end of one of the pathways, we came across the Four Eyes Well. The original well was dug in the late 1500s and subsequently, the four circular openings were built for safety and control.
Later we came across one of the many Temples on the Island, Penghu Tianhou Temple, but this one is a bit special. It is included in the top 100 religious places in Taiwan, and this country does have thousands of temples! It is the oldest Temple worshipping Mazu the Taoist Chinese Sea Goddess and dates back to at least 1604.
The next morning we ventured down to the beach. Tim collected a fair amount of rubbish while the rest of us wandered along, chatting and finding pieces of coral and shells. It’s a beautiful beach and perfect for sandcastles, sad that the weather isn’t kind to us. We can’t complain, we have been very fortunate with the weather during our travels. Along the beachfront were some very kitschy Hotels. They do seem to like their turrets and bright colours here!
We walked back to the hotel past a Temple that was being rebuilt. When Claudia and Celso were here two years ago, they saw it being demolished. The construction and design work must take ages as it is so intricate. We assumed the Guardian Lions were blind-folded so that they are not disturbed by the building work. Any other idea?
As well as playing cards, we spent much of our time eating. There are some good seafood local restaurants here plus Claudia and Celso generously brought over some cheese (they know how much we love cheese) and other foods for us to munch.
While buying some provisions in 7/11, I did spot a classic spelling mistake – well, I did use to run accuracy workshops in my pre-travelling life! Can you see it in the photo?
And talking of photos, Claudia was our chief photographer for our time together - hence you may have seen an improvement in today's blog! Thank you Claudia xx
Claudia and Celso left on Friday, and it was sad to see them go. We have such a wonderful relaxing and joyous time with them, full of laughter as well as some deep philosophical conversations. We are very fond of our new friends. But this was just “au revoir” as they have invited us back to Toucheng before we leave Taiwan in July. 😊