Keelung Walks : Heping (Peace) Island, Shen’ao Fishing Port and Port of Keelung

Second day was spent in Northern Taiwan, in Keelung City. Since Keelung is not far from Taipei, I traveled to the city with regular train which is TRA train. I used the EasyCard that I bought and previously used from my first trip in Taiwan, I made sure that it has more than enough cash loaded into it for my round trip to Keelung. I checked the amount of train fare to the city and I knew that I am safe to travel without worries regarding the ticket fare.

I traveled from Taipei Main Station to Keelung Station. Then, arrived at Keelung City almost 10AM. I got off at North Exit, and returned. Next, I went out at South Exit of the station where the Visitor Center is located. Before I reached the Visitor Centre, a shuttle tourist bus arrived and I quickly inquired to tourism officers about the shuttle day pass available.

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At Keelung Station

I bought a tour bus pass for TWD50 and has complimentary small brochure as guide to Keelung Tourist Spots where the touris shuttle bus will stop. One of the tourism officers explained to me that there are two zone options to choose when taking the tourist shuttle bus day pass in the city. The Keelung Shuttle Bus West Line route goes to Yehliu Geopark and the Keelung Shuttle Bus East Line route goes to Heping Island. I knew that Yehliu Geopark is famous tourist spot, therefore I chose another route which is the West Line Route. At that time, I was more curious to see Heping Island Park. I also learned that the tourism shuttle bus system in Keelung Station operates in one zone option. This means that, when you choose East Line Route, that means visitors can enjoy all tourist spots in the said route. If the visitor wanted to take the West Line Route, the same rules applies. But before buying tickets for both lines. Make sure you will be able to visit all the places in both zones as the ticket is only valid for the day. There is a schedule that the bus is following. It is operating like hop-on hop off bus. The two lines only meet at Keelung station, it does not intersect in other routes from other zone. If the visitor wanted to visit specific place in other zone, you will return to Keelung Station to transfer to another route and you will have to pay for  tourish shuttle bus pass. When I looked at my time, I just decided to go to West Line only and see if I still have time to see the East Line route.

After quick orientation, I went out the Visitor Centre and jumped on the East Line bus. While inside the bus, I just observed that there were just few tourist. I took a seat at the back and felt excited as I was looking forward to see Heping Island Park. When we left Keelung Station, I checked again my GPS to see my current location while traveling. The shuttle bus stopped based on the route destination defined in the East Line Route. The first stop was Miaokou Night Market, second stop was Zhongzheng Park and third stop was Indigenous Cultural Hall before reaching the Heping Island Park bus stop. I bypassed the three stops as I wanted to go straight to Heping Island Park.

Heping Island Park (formerly known as Sheliao Island)

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The tourist shuttle bus that I took crossed Sheliao Bridge  The said bridge is one of the bridge that connects Heping Island to the mainland aside from Heping Bridge. I got off the Heping Island Park Bus Stop which still around 5-10 minutes walk to reach the gate or entrance to the park. While walking, I checked my phone to see where I was and to see the directions that I was following. I tried to approached few people along Pingyi Road to verify that I was in the right direction but some people don’t know how to respond to me, so I walked again and again following my GPS in my phone. From Pingyi Road, I reached a gate and walked inside of it. I went to the park for photography and curiosity to the place. I spent at least an hour to see the park.

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At Sheliao Bridge

Heping Island was called Sheliao Island in the past. It is located at the north of Taiwan. Heping Bridge connects the island to Keelung City. In 1626, the Spanish army built castles, churches and fortresses, preparing to do business with China and Japan. The castle on the southwest is called San Salvador, the saint savior. This is the first and currently the only castle in Keelung. During the Spanish occupation, Heping Island had busy trading activities with Southeast Asia. After World War II, the island was renamed Heping Island. Today, it is a famous tourist attraction.

Heping Island is perfect for diving and sea fishing. With years of erosion by the wind and sea, the eroded rocks and coasts have formed special shapes. The Keelung government has made Heping Island a coastal park with swimming pool, tour track, tourism service center and food and beverages.

–eng.taiwan.net.tw

Inside the park island, the first thing that I saw was the castle fortress like structure which is the Visitor Centre of the park where the building design was imitation of the Spanish style San Salvador City since the place has been occupied by Spanish for decades. It was the place where I started my short exploration of the park. I walked not far from the Visitor Centre where I saw the mushroom like rocks in the coast where special shapes had formed due to thousand years of erosion which is one of the fascinating things to see in the park.

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Visitor Centre coming from the entrance of the park

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Mushroom Rocks from Little Camp

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Mushroom Rocks with Keelung Islet (background island)

 

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Mushroom Rocks

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Little Camp with View of Mushroom Rocks

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With View of Mushroom Rocks from Little Camp area

Kiddie Pool

One of the shallow seawater swimming pool is the Kiddie Pool where adult can safely allow young ones to play with the water without worries of waves from the sea and be drowned as they watch children from a distance. The nice thing about the pool is that sea and natural ecology can be introduced to young ones in enjoyable way.

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Kiddie Pool

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Kiddie Pool from Angel to the Sea Marina (Upper Board Walk)

Blue Ocean Pool

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Another interesting to learn about the Blue Ocean Pool aside of being part of the sea is the opportunity of the swimmer to swim together with tropical fish, crabs and other marine creatures in the blue water. Is it not that fun? The pool was transformed from natural seawater into the waterway to a pool.

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Blue Ocean Pool from Angel to the Sea Marina (Upper Board Walk)

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Summer Stay Beach

The island also offers beach where visitors can enjoy the scorching heat from the sun and can play with the sand. Walking the upper board walk which is called as Angel to the Sea Marina, gives the visitor a chance to explore the park in a different perspective to enjoy the scenery that surrounds it.

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Visitor Centre

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Bush Island

While exploring the park, I thought that I saw everything that was why I decided to leave the park, but before I reached the gate where I entered the park, I saw a road that seems to lead somewhere, therefore I checked it out and wondering if I could see something in that area. Wan Shan Gong and Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument were found in the area. But I really enjoyed the rock formations on the shore and the colors of it where

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Wan Shan Gong

 

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Surroundings near Wan Shan Gong

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Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument

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Surroundings near Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument

The one thing that I regret in my visit in Heping Island Park was unable to explore it completely. As I had rough idea what is being offered by the park, I missed to explore the mountain trail where scenic pavilion is located to be able to see more of the sea-erosion landscape which I missed. During the visit, there were some constructions going. And I was not aware that I can walked beyong the shore where most of the mushroom like rocks can be seen. If will given a chance again, I will return to this place to explore the park completely.

Shen’ao Fishing Port

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I left Heping Island by taking the same East Line shuttle bus that goes to Riufang Station route as I wanted to visit Shen’ao Fishing Port. I came to the port expecting that there were too many people on it, but, to my surprise I saw few people around the port. I was not sure if it’s the port was on holiday during my visit, all I knew was it was Monday. I had a quick look of the port but this was the second place that I missed an important tourist spot because I was not aware that there was such thing in the port. What I did in the area was to walk around the port and took some couple of photos.

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Ruifang District Fisheries Association

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Shen’ao Fishing Port

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Shen’ao Fishing Port with Keelung Mountain at the back

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Shen’ao Fishing Port Viewing Platform

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Shen’ao Fishing Port Bus Stop

Port of Keelung

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Port of Keelung Scenery from Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza) Bus Stop

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Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza) Bus Stop

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Yangming Marine Culture and Art Museum (left building) and beside it is City Bus Terminal

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Along Zhongyi Road with Boat Marina Harbourside Leisure Hall (right building)

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Keelung Station South (left) with Yangming Marine Culture and Art Museum (right)

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Keelung Station South

The last place that I visited which part of East Line Route was Shen’ao Fishing Port. From the bus stop where I went off was the same bus stop I waited for the bus that will return to Keelung Station. We took the same route and we picked-up other passengers like me in other bus stop. The bus route ended at Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza), where I had a chance to see the beauty that Port of Keelung is offering. And I really like what I saw. I can say that the center of Keelung City revolves around Keelung Station and places that surrounds it such as Port of Keelung. Before I totally left the city, I took few minutes to enjoy the port.

Until then.

Notes :
1. Plan to visit Keelung ? Please check latest information here. Plan to visit Heping Island Park? Check here. How about Shen’ao Fishing Port? See this.
2. Location : 360, Pingyi Road, Zhongzheng District, Keelung City
3. Directions / Transportation to Heping Island Park :
a. From Taipei Main Station, take TRA train to Keelung Station. TRA Train website here.
b. From Keelung Station, go to Visitor Centre where the tourist shuttle bus waits. Keelung Shuttle Bus website here.
c. Choose which Zone option you wanted to visit and enjoy.
d. Please visit the access link to the island park here.
Website : Keelung, Heping Island, Shen’ao Fishing Port

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Taipei Walks : Taipei Main Station, North Gate and Beimen Memorial Park

It was my first 100% free flight, as I used my GetGo Cebu Pacific through my points that accumulated in my account. I took a late night Saturday flight to Taipei during my second visit to Taiwan. Therefore, it was obvious that I will arrived in the city at early morning the next day. Like what I did during my first visit, just eight months earlier, I rented a pocket WI-FI with the same provider I had before and picked it up at the same convenience store at the basement of the airport which opens 24 hours (as other provider are closed after 8 PM). After that, I went straight to the bus terminal, bought a ticket and waited for the next bus that brought me to Taipei. I checked-in to the same hotel that I had before since it is comfortable place to rest and near in Taipei Main Station.

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Since it was Sunday, I had personal commitment in the morning, then I used the rest of Sunday exploring nearby places from my accommodation in Taipei, a walk-able tourist spot that I can visit in the afternoon. I started my walk from a well know station in the country, none other than Taipei Main Station.

Taipei Main Station

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I came from in Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City for my morning commitment, I arrived in Taipei Main Station Bus Stop near  Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Station Store and cross the road to reach the South Entrance / Exit of Taipei Main Station. I explored the station as I need to exchange the 3 Days Taiwan High-Speed Rail Unlimited Pass that I bought few days earlier before my scheduled flight to Taiwan. I bought the pass as I planned to explore places outside Taipei, to explore other parts of Taiwan. And while walking inside the station, I saw lots of people gathered at the center of the station, an open space which at first I thought that there were events happening but it was none.

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That moment, I realized, most people came there in the open hall were mostly my countrymen. I remembered, it was Sunday – the common rest day of my fellow Filipinos that works in Taiwan. And then, I remembered the similar situation that I experienced when I worked in Singapore. Sunday is the rest day for most Filipinos that works as domestic helper and commonly meet up in Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road in Singapore. I learned it was the place where my countrymen usually meet up in Taiwan – Taipei Main Station it is. Observing them just like they were there, sitting together with acquaintances and friends, it was a social place that I thought maybe made them feel at ease as they with familiar faces back home.

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Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, Displayed at Taipei Main Station East 2 Exit

I went outside the station from East Exit and there I still saw Filipinos, just sitting around, spending their time to chill. Next, I saw a Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, displayed near East 2 Entrance / Exit of the station. And people came near the steam train to do a selfie photos with it. After taking couple photos of the steam train, I walked around from East part to South part  of the station. At that time, I was still thinking where to go and then, I thought the first place to see where I can play with my DSLR camera, that was the North Gate.

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Shin Kong Life Tower and Guanquian Road

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National Taiwan Museum of Railways

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Zhongxiao West Road from Beimen Memorial Park

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Bo’ai Road (left) and Yanping South Road (right) from Beimen Memorial Park

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Beimen Post Office

North Gate (Traditional 19th Century Gatehouse) 

North Gate is just few minutes walk from Taipei Station. During my first visit in the city, I had seen North Gate from a distance while taking bus and just passing the gate. In my second visit in the country, I freely enjoyed taking photos of North Gate that stands within Beimen Memorial Park.

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North Gate (Cheng’en men)

I did not realize that I will learn something about the Taipei City Wall while walking in Beimen Memorial Park. There were displays at the ground explaining the Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”, History of Taipei City Wall, how the city wall were built, its materials and structural features, how the stones quarried used to build the city wall and it also features the planting and paving design of the park itself which still conveys cultural significance related to North Gate. I honestly enjoyed my walk in the park.

Beimen Memorial Park (North Gate Square / North Gate Plaza)

The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”

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The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”

Qing Dynasty Taipei City’s “Axial Lines” reveal two main strands of cultural significance. Taipei City’s “ceremonial axis” was constructed to run north-south from in front of the Taipei Yamen (government) to Wen and Wu Temples, along Chongqing South Road (then called Fuqian Street in the north and Wenwu Street in the south). This central axis and all north-south streets where directly aligned toward the North Star, forming a chessboard grid with east-west streets,Taipei’s fortified city was Taiwan’s only Qing Dynasty city to be laid out rectangularly. This spatial pattern manifest the city’s “ceremonial system” according to the “royal city” layout prescribed in the Book of Rites.

The History of Taipei City Wall

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The History of Taipei City Wall

Plans to build Taipei City Wall were instituted by Chen Hsing-chu, the Magistrate of Taipei Prefecture, in 1879. Rough 5000 meters long, 5.76 meters high, 3.84 meters thick, and battlemented, it was topped by a horse path and surrounded by a moat.

Five gates served passage through the wall; Chen’enmen (the North Gate), Jingfumen (the East Gate), Baochengmen (the West Gate), Lizhenmen (the Main South Gate) and Chongximen (the Little South Gate). The North and West Gates were fortified on the exterior with enceintes. Built of stone, it was Taiwan’s only rectangular city wall, surpassing all others in height and magnificence. Construction of the wall and gate towers was completed in 1884.

How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall

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How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall

The stone materials for the wall and gates were obtained locally. The foundation slabs came from Beishihu in Dazhi, cut from the hill stones using small chisels. To extract each 12-foot-long slab, the workmen first chiseled out 7-8 equidistant square holes in the stone surface. They then placed 5-to-6 flat chisels 3 inches into the holes, obliquely inserted half-inch-thick iron plates on two sides of the chisels, and struck the chisels with 15-pound hammers to split off long stone bars. Finally, they cut the stone bars into small slabs, measuring one foot wide by four to five feel long, for ease of transportation.

Planting and Paving Design Concepts

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Planting and Paving Design Concepts

The North Gate has the greatest historic significance among Taipei’s five gates. It was the most used tea merchants and foreign traders who congregated in Dadaocheng outside the wall. Governor Liu Ming-chuan built the train station nearby and the tax office machinery bureau and many foreign firms were located in the gate’s vicinity. The Qing government ceremonial arch for the reception of officials was set outside it.

The landscape design of the North Gate Square not only beautified the square but also gave expression to Taipei’s history and cultural essence. The paving and planting tell the story of each landscape element.

Jasmin Flowers

The tea trading firms in Dadaocheng enjoyed booming prosperity at that time. The jasmine used for scenting tea became a signature plant of the Dadaocheng tea industry.

Roadside Trees under Japanese Rule

The Japanese authorities removed the city wall to make way for the building the park like three-lane road – a symbol of modern urban planning. The carefully selected roadside tress, such as Bischofia javanica (bishopwood) and Cinnamomum camphora, hold special significance in the development of Taipei’s avenues.

The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall

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The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall

Two kinds of stone were used to build the Taipei City Wall. The underground foundations were built with sandstone take from the Beishihu in Dazhi (then called Qili’an stone), while harder grey-black andesite (Guanyinshan stone) was used for the wall’s protective facing.
To solve the challenge of the ground’s soft upper stratum, Chinese fir foundation piles were driven down to the hard soil sever meters below ground. Then, beams 3-5 meters long were placed horizontally to form a platform on which ten layers of sandstone labs were laid in a right-angled criss-cross pattern. The wall was about 3.6 meters thick. To form a strong protective shield, the wall was faced with andesite laid in a Flemish double-stretcher bond. Its interior was filled with pebbles and rammed earth.

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About Taipei Prefecture

There is information displayed at the ground of Beimen Memorial Park regarding the Taipei Prefecture which was formed when Japanese takeover Taiwan where it has three business center : Taipei inner region , Monga (Southwest) and Dadaocheng (Northwest) outside of the city wall. Information also describes details of the prefecture, by mentioning what can be seen in every part of it. It mentioned what to be seen coming from South Gate, West Gate and North Gate regarding its old streets, temples and buildings.

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Taipei Prefecture

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South Gate Details

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West Gate Details

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North Gate Details

It was a relaxing walk in Beimen Memorial Park or The North Gate Square or The North Gate Plaza. It was also worth knowing that North Gate and the park itself was just recently renovated and improve as part of cultural preservation of Taipei. But I truly admired what Taiwan government did when they removed the elevated highway just to make emphasis of the historic North Gate as one of the symbol cultural heritage of the city.

Notes :
1. Plan to visit Taipei ? Please check latest information here. Plan to visit Beimen Memorial Park or North Gate Square or North Gate Plaza? Check here.
2. Location : Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
3. Directions / Transportation to Beimen Memorial Park / North Gate :
a. From Taipei Main Station, get off at South Exit/Entrance of the train
b. Turn right and walk beside the Zhongxiao West Road and the gate can immediately be seen along the road.
Website : Taipei , Beimen Memorial Park / North Gate

 

 

 

 

Top 17 Places Visited in Taiwan (v 1.0)

Have you been in Taiwan? Do you have top list during your trip in the said country? Here are the top places that I visited during my first trip in Taiwan. What are yours?

Top 1 – Taroko National Park

During the first visit in Taiwan, my favorite place that I fall in love with is Taroko National Park. The mountains that surround the park is the main reason why I love it. Next is the Liwu River where most of amazing gorges can be found. Another reason are Shakadang Trail where I love its river, Swallow Grotto where cliffs and Indian Chief rock formation can be found, Tien-Hsiang village surrounded by mountains and of course the Eternal Spring Shrine, the temple with a falls underneath.

I will not specify anymore which area in Taroko National Park are my favorites as I like all of what I had seen in the park.

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Top 2 – Hualien Der-yen beach

Though the visit in Hualien Der-yen beach was most likely a side trip part of my tour in Taroko National Park, I like to see this kind of places in Taiwan. It always nature wins my heart in my travel.

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Top 3 – Taipei Zoo (Wensha District)

I like zoo, but I never realized that I will be enjoying so much while visiting Taipei Zoo not only because of Giant Panda and Red Panda but because of its animal diversity that will be discovered here and the natural setting of the park.

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Top 4 – Taipei 101 (Xinyi District)

Xinyi District is the financial district of Taipei where Taipei 101 is located. A symbolical building of Taipei or let’s say Taiwan as this is unique tower in the world.

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Top 5 – Shin Kong Mitsukosh (Xinyi District)

One of the luxurious shopping area of the country that can be enjoyed in Taipei. Walking here is already entertaining though there are lots of people during my visit, I found amazing that Taipei has such places like Shin Kong Mitsukosh.

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Top 6 – Ximending (Wanhua District)

These pedestrian area where surrounded by markets, shopping stores and cinemas that change the way I think about market place. My walks here was so relaxing.

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Top 7 – Shilin Night Market (Shilin District)

My last minute walk was spent here before I went to Taoyuan International Airport. And I like the ambiance of this night market.

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Top 8 – Bopiliao Historical Block (Wanhua District)

A historical block that made me realize how amazing if different culture aspirations has been put into architecture.

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Top 9 – Red House Theater (Wanhua District)

Though I was sad at first because the main building of Red House Theater is under renovation, I had a good time walking in one of the cultural and creative store to be found inside the building.

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Top 10 – [Bangka] Mengxia (Mengjia) Longshan (Lungshan) Temple (Wanhua District)

My favorite temple that I saw while walking around Taipei. The architecture design and its colorful buildings are so inviting that anyone will enjoy just to look at them.

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Top 11 – [Bangka] Qingshui  (Chingshui) Temple (Wanhua District)

The first temple that I had seen during my walks in Wanhua District. A distinguishable temple of its kind.

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Top 12 – [Bangka] Qingshan Temple (Qingshangong) (Wanhua District)

Another interesting temple that I found but I haven’t got a chance to get inside.

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Top 13 – Taipei City Hall (Xinyi District)

A government building at the middle of Xinyi District significantly shows its simplicity and can be an outlier because of its exterior design but its impression made on me was plain but authoritative.

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Top 14 – Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital (Wanhua District)

A discovered historical building that I found while walking in Wanhua District.

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Top 15 – Bangka Park (Mengxia [Mengjia] Park) (Wanhua District)

A relaxing place found during my walk where I found Taiwanese enjoys the weekend.

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Top 16 – Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market (Daan District)

A discovered night market after spending walking time at Xinyi District, I found myself here when I felt hungry.

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Top 17 – Huaxi Street Night Market (Wanhua District)

Another night market that I passed by while walking in Wanhua District, but because its after noon, most of the stores are still close at the time I went here.

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3 Days – Taiwan Experimental Travel Itinerary

The first time I traveled in Taiwan, my itinerary was not really planned. I called it as experimental travel because it’s the first country that I visited using a visa exempt policy. So, in nature, there is possibility that my entry will be denied if there is something wrong how I understand Taiwan’s policy regarding visa-exempt. But I was thankful that my first entry was smooth as I dreamed of it.

Without further ado, here are the 3-Days Itinerary that I had during my first time visit in Taiwan. Please use the itinerary as reference as the list are not necessarily in order the way I visited them. I myself checks other itineraries from other travelers but in the end, I still created my own itinerary based on budget, time frame, availability and more of my preferences. There are different reasons and considerations for my list so you can use it at your own discretion.

Day 1 – Taipei City

Wanhua District (Part 1 & Part 2)

Ximending

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Huaxi Street Night Market

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Red House Theater

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Bopiliao Historical Block

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Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital

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[Bangka] Qingshui  (Chingshui) Temple

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[Bangka] Mengxia (Mengjia) Longshan (Lungshan) Temple

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[Bangka] Qingshan Temple (Qingshangong)

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Bangka Park (Mengxia [Mengjia] Park)

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Xinyi District

Taipei 101

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Taipei City Government and City Hall

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Shin Kong Mitsukosh

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Daan District

Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market

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Day 2 – Taipei City

Wenshan District

Taipei Zoo

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Day 3 – Hualien County

Taroko National Park (Part 1 & Part 2)

Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate (East Gate)

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Shakadang Trail

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Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto)

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Tunnel of Nine Turns

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Tien-Hsiang

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Cihmu (Cimu) Bridge

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Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)

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Hualien Der-yen beach

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Day 3 – Taipei City

Shilin District

Shilin Night Market

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Taroko National Park (Part 2) : From Tunnel of Nine Turns to Tien-Hsiang to Eternal Spring Shrine

Tunnel of Nine Turns

We came back to the bus and continued our journey in Taroko Gorge. And we drove towards the Tunnel of Nine Turns. Here, I had a chance to see the scenery inside the bus. The Jiuqudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns) was constructed in 1996, so that the visitors can view the rock folds, joints and faults of the marble cliffs. The two cliffs are so close to each other, and it looks like they are joining to each other if seen from afar. This section has the reputation of “Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon”. I discovered that “Nine” for Chinese means “many”.

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Scenery from Tunnel of Nine Turns

Tien-Hsiang

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We reached Tien-Hsiang or Tianxiang Village where the hotel restaurant is located and where we had our lunch that day. We were divided into two group and sits surrounding a huge circle table. At the restaurant we had a chance to eat local delicacies. Pardon me of the food specifics, as I don’t knew the menu of what we ate, all I knew was its Taiwanese cuisine. Though, I was not really good in food stuff, but I love to eat, who doesn’t? Right? The menu that was served was as just enough to all of us to fulfill our bellies and to keep us going in our adventure in the park.

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Hotel Restaurant

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After our lunch, we went outside to see a bit of the village. I walked around, I found local stores and bought post cards as my personal souvenir of the place. I also found a monkey strayed around the corner where people approach it just to take an up close photo. I continued strolling in the area then I saw bridges. First was Zhihui Bridge,  second was Pudu Bridge towards Xiangde Temple at the mountain side. I enjoyed the scenery in front of me and thinking that it is such  beautiful and serene place.  I took more photos before I decided to go back to the bus.

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Zhihui Bridge and Pudu Bridge

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Zhihui Bridge with the Background of Xiangde Temple Area at the top

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Xiangde Temple Area at the top

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Pudu Bridge

Snapshots along the way before reaching Cihmu Bridge

Cihmu (Cimu) Bridge

We had a brief stop at Cihmu Bridge to appreciate the scenery that it has to offer. I approached the bridge and went to the waiting shed or pavilion nearby located at higher ground, a great point to take photos in different angle of the place. At the waiting shed, there were scenery found to be amazing. I did enjoy the quick visit we made in the bridge.

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Waiting shed or pavilion

“Cimu” in Chinese means motherly devotion. The bridge has connection to the legend where the area is known as “Heliu” where two rivers meet. A child near the edge of the river has been swept away by large current of water. Every day the mother’s child go to the river and pray for her childs safety and hope to come back to her.

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Liwu River from Cihmu Bridge

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Cihmu Bridge

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Liufang Bridge that we passed by

Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)

The last stopped we had in Taroko National Park was in Zhangchun Bridge. There are lots of scenery to see here. First was the famous Eternal Spring Shrine or Changchun Shrine which visible even from a distance, the shrine gives a photographic view because of its location, because of its falls underneath, because of the greenery background that surrounds it, because it stands at the mountain side and because of Liwu River at the bottom of it. One thing that I learned while I was here was when I read the information near the bridge about the shrine. Because there are many people died building the Central Cross-Island Highway, Eternal Spring Shrine was built to commemorate the men who lost their lives on it.

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Taroko Eternal Spring Changchun Shrine

After appreciating the scenic view of Eternal Spring Shrine, I saw as well the Guanyin Dong, the building or temple at the top. Then, we walked and passed Zhangchun Bridge. While at the bridge I saw Liwu River in another angle to appreciate it more. The tour in the park gave me this thoughts that Liwu River is all the way with us through the entire journey in Taroko Gorge, I had seen its different beauty in every part of the park. A truly magnificent river for me. We passed the tunnel road of Zhangchun Bridge to go to the bus as we nearly heading back to Hualien city. Before I jumped in to the vehicle, I saw Taroko Changuang Temple Suspension Bridge and Gate to Changuang Temple.

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Zhangchun Bridge

Liwu River at Zhangchun Bridge

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Guanyin Dong

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Taroko Changuang Temple Suspension Bridge

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Liwu River and Zhongbu Cross-Island Highway

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Gate to Changuang Temple

My tour in Taroko Gorge is a day tour and I already admired the park. I am wondering what if I had a chance someday to hike some part of this beautiful national park. I hope I will be given a chance. Until then.

 

 

Taroko National Park (Part 1) : From East Gate to Shakadang Trail to Swallow Grotto

In my 3 days in Taiwan, I took a day tour during my 3rd and last day as my final adventure in the said country. I know that I haven’t seen much yet of the city but I wanted to see a national park during my visit in Taiwan and with that same reason, I booked Taroko Gorge day tour online before I ended my travel and before I flew back to Manila.

It was Monday, January 9, 2017. I put back all my stuff in my small luggage backpack and prepared myself early in the morning. I checked-out past 5AM in the morning and sit in the cafe within the hotel / hostel that I stayed in Taipei and waited for my tour to pick me up. In few minutes, the car arrived, I stood up and went outside and a man looking for me reading my name. I responded that its myself and he told me to hopped into the car. Inside the vehicle I found other tourists. Next, our car traveled to Taipei Main Station and from the parking area we walked towards the station that will bring us to Hualien. Our tour guide informed us that we will take the train and once we reached Hualien Station, we will meet Josephine, our guide in Taroko Gorge National Park. Then, he gave our train ticket. While we were waiting for the right train that we need to take, I introduced myself to the 4 people in the same tour. One couple from London, a French women student from Hongkong and a male solo traveler like me.

When the train arrived, we checked the train car from our tickets. The French woman and I had the same car in the train but our seats were apart from each other and the three were in another train carriage, therefore I traveled from Taipei Station without talking to someone. I set the alarm in my phone in case I may fall asleep in the train while traveling. And I did fell asleep but I woke-up from time to time. Since I was sitting at window seat, I was able to capture some photos along the way before reaching Hualien Station.

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River border between Yilan County and Hualien County near the coast before passing Heping Station

River before reaching Xincheng Taroko Station

We reached Hualien Station and two of us from the same train car look for the rest of the three and came together in a group. As advised on us of our guide in Taipei, we have to specifically meet Josephine just near the stairs after we just get-off the train. We waited and went down, then we go back upstairs. Then we met Josephine.  After she met us, we walked a bit inside the station and then she mentioned that there was another group that she was waiting as well, that’s when I realized that she handles more than one group travel tour company. She advised us to do what we need to do in the station while we were waiting for the rest of the group to be completed according to her list. Then, after we were assembled completely, we went out towards our bus at the parking.

Josephine speaks English in Chinese tone but its understandable.  She’s friendly and lively when speaking and she tried her best for us to laugh a bit. She also speaks Chinese and Japanese while on the tour. That’s quite a skill, speaking 3 languages in a tour. Along the road she started explaining some of the places that our tour bus was passing by which shows she definitely knows the place.

Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate (East Gate)

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Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate

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Jinwen Bridge

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Liwu River from Taroko East Gate

After sometime, we reached the entrance of the park called Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate. Here, we stopped a bit to see the arch gate and its surrounding areas such as Jinwen Bridge and Liwu River. Near the gate, we had a glimpse of Zhongbu (Central) Cross-Island Highway.  Next, we were back to the bus, we crossed Jinwen Bridge, we passed Taroko National Park Tourist Information Center and we stopped at Shakadang Bridge.

Shakadang Bridge, River and Trail

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Shakadang Bridge

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Shakadang Stream / River

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Shakadang Trail

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Shakadang River along the Shakadang Trail

I had this tense and funny experience while in Shakadang Trail. Our tour guide, gave us time to get down to Shakadang Trail from the bridge so we can walk a bit in the trail to take some photos in the area. Not knowing how long the trail really is, because of my fascination with the beauty of Shakadang River, I walked probably more than kilometer distance of the trail that resulted me to be late 10 minutes of returning to the bus. When I was walking back, when Shakadang Bridge had been visible to me, I felt concerned because I was not able to see the tour busI had from where it stopped which just few steps from the bridge stairs to the trail when I got-off. Then I walked fast and hoping that I was never left behind. 11 AM was the return time to the bus and I was still walking in the trail. I did a walkathon and passed so many walkers along the trail, then climbed the stairs as fast as I can, my hopes rose when I saw buses after the bridge near the tunnel road. I was near the buses and don’t knew what’s next to do when I don’t even knew my bus tour plate number. So I checked the nearest bus to me and looking for a familiar face. Then I passed another one and Josephine was just outside the bus. I felt relieve when I saw her. I apologized to her and to the people inside the bus for being late because of my negligence to return on time.

Some snapshots while inside the bus looking towards Liwu River while we were driving at Zhongbu Cross-Island Highway after Ningan Bride going to Swallow Grotto.

Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto)

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Swallow Grotto

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Swallow Grotto Trail

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Swallow Grotto Road Tunnel/Thruway

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Potholes on the Cliff Face along Swallow Grotto Trail

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Cliff Faces along Swallow Grotto Trail

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Swallow Grotto Trail Photos

I was back at the bus, the tension that I felt died down and I felt relax again as our bus were moving along road. Inside the bus, I looked at my window and continued to see the park while inside of it. We stopped a few minutes again, then I realized that Josephine picked-up the safety hats that we will be using as part of our itinerary in the national park and each of us get our own hat. The safety hat was not different from the hard hat that construction worker that are using, with that in my mind,  I just thought that maybe its important as part of our safety in the tour.

The bus stopped again near Swallow Grotto or Yanzikou. Then our guide checked all of us if we were all wearing our safety hat and  she signaled us that we can get-off the bus. It is a road thruway that looks like a tunnel where we had a chance to walk inside with viewing deck to see Potholes on Cliff Faces and portion of Liwu River.

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