Yehliu Geopark and confusions on names in Taiwan

DSC_6512April 2015, Taiwan

This spring we went to Keelung. Or Geelung, as I thought it was to be pronounced. Taiwan is so confusing: most of the cities have names that doesn’t help you to know how to actually say the name. Taipei is to be read as “Taibei”, Kaohsiung becomes “Gaoxiong”, and Hsinchu is actually Xinzhu. Now when reading Wikipedia I realize that the name of Keelung is actually to be read “Jīlóng“. Even though older written names like Chi-lung still seems to be around. Conclusion: Does writing Chinese with Latin alphabet really has to be this complex? 

Keelung is a city on the north tip on Taiwan, a small distance from the city you can find Yehliu Geopark.

DSC_6522The Geopark of Yehliu is famous for stone formations. The geological conditions made the soft stones shaped by weather and wind, and looking like all kinds of funny figures. Above you can see the “tofu” stones, and below one of the higher structures.

The most famous (and crowded are) was at “the queens head”. Once upon the time the stone might have looked like a proud females head. But today the surface of the stone has lost so much the head is almost unrecognizable. Nature is creating it’s own live art, under constant reconstruction.

DSC_6600As always I feel an urge to get out from the tourist crowds, so we directly headed over to the more distant park of the Geopark.

DSC_6531The peninsula of the park was high and pointy, and offered a beautiful view of the sea around us.

DSC_6525A beautiful bird with a very distinct song was in charge of the soundtrack.

DSC_6519We did not really know where the path was taking us, we just kept walking higher and more far away. But when we reached the end point it was like someone had planned it perfectly for us: we got to a small pavilion just to enjoy a dramatic sunset. Can you see the man finishing on (the second picture) below?

DSC_6580DSC_6561DSC_6589When it started to get dark we walked back down to sea level. We found the previous crowded parts of the park almost deserted, and could take our time looking at the previous-queen of stone.

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If life was a Disney Movie

DSC_7017Last Sunday was such a special day. Over a simple spaghetti lunch I had one of those heart-touching-life-changing conversations with a new friend.

After eating S came to pick me up and we went for an afternoon trip: this time to Neiwan, less than an hour from Hsinchu.

DSC_7008DSC_7010DSC_7026Neiwan is a common weekend-destination for Hsinchu citizens. The town itself is crowded and touristy, so we did our best to stay away from the crowd and get some quiet time. We walked up a hillside, passed a bridge, and was surrounded by bird-size dragonflies. After feeling too warm we went down to the river and bathed our feet.

When the sun set we made our way up a hillside to see the reason why we came there: fireflies!

DSC_7038Our friends who had been in Neiwan the weekends before came back in a close-to traumatic state after being squeezed in a huge crowd. Just two weeks before 10000 people were visiting the very same spot to see the fireflies. Luckily the worst rush was over now and the mountain was now crowded at all. We succeeded to find a little path into the forest, away from lights and people, and sat down to wait for the flies to start swarming.

DSC_7067DSC_7073These photos simply can’t catch the feeling of that evening. The pictures almost looks like if I have been paining yellow dots on them in paint!

The air was warm and humid, and we could not see the road from were we sat. On all sides around us little flies were crawling and flying, slowly blinking with their illuminated bodies. It gave me a highly surrealistic feeling, it almost felt like hundred of eyes were watching us from every side. Every time I turned to one side, I knew there were just as many of them of them behind me.

It totally felt like if I was in a Disney Movie, and Timon and Pumba would run past us any time. (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)

Later in the night, on the way back to Hsinchu, we went to eat a special kind of roasted chicken. The chicken was first boiled before it was roasted slowly over fire in a ceramic oven. The chicken was served whole with roasted garlic, pepper and chicken oil.

DSC_7088I got the special honour to rip the chicken into pieces with my hands. It was exactly as greasy and messy as it looks!

In Taiwanese – Chinese – this part of Asia – cultures you never touch or eat for food with your hands. After using the thicker gloves for parting the chicken we put on thin plastic ones to wear when we were eating. I couldn’t stop thinking of how funny this would have looked in India, where eating with bare hands is the most natural way.

DSC_7094As S is a Taiwanese he gladly munched on all the strange parts, head, tail and feet are considered delicious and healthy here. I was more picky and only ate the meaty parts. The chicken was so fresh and really great, with a crispy outer layer and extra much taste from the broth. I forgot all table manners and ate until I had oil all over my face.

The best ending of a week!

Big Elephant Blessings

DSC_3177I was fascinated and excited by the elephants in India. They are so huge and intelligent animals. A, who finds an elephant less interesting than the average boring Swedish Elk, had more fun watching me than watching the elephants.

We did of course do the touristy thing elephant riding. It was just as swaying and slow as you expect an elephant be on a warm day.

DSC_3229After riding the elephant we were encouraged to give the huge animal a little gift, and so I would receive a blessing in return. The lady elephant was supposed to give my head a soft touch with the tip of her trunk. But that is not what happened. Maybe she felt this silly tourist needed a little knock with her trunk instead? Anyway, lets just say I got an extra big blessing, shall we?

Places you have to see in Taipei: Taipei 101

We came to Taipei a late Friday night, with tired feet and hair still sticky by sea salt. I had only been sightseeing in Taipei a short weekend before and had still seen very little. The two days in Taipei with mum we tried to cover at least some of the must see places. We started of course with the place you cannot avoid: Taipei 101, a previous highest tower of the world and the proud landmark of Taipei.

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As the tower stands alone so you have a good view over the city. Try just to get there on a clear day!

If it is not stormy you can go out and feel the wind on you face on the highest reachable floor. This photo is take through the super secure fence:

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Never ending staircase leading down. No, you don’t have to use your own legs to get ut, there are high-speed word record elevators to take care of that.

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