Yehliu geopark’s lunar-scape looks exquisitely alien, but if the blistering heat doesn’t bring you back down to earth, the throngs of tourists certainly will.
Charlie and I undoubtedly enjoyed the fantastical geological formations and tranquil seascapes, yet for me it was certainly an enjoyment tinged with longing. I wished I could see the place by moonlight, though the park closes at eight o’clock. I wished there wasn’t a paint line marking out where I could and couldn’t go, stand, climb, or explore, and I really wished there weren’t so many park guards strictly enforcing these boundaries. Above all, I wished to have the place for just the two of us.
However, without such stalwart protection, the place would undoubtedly have fallen into serious disrepair by now, and sadly great natural beauty often attracts a great number of tourists, especially within such easy reach of the capital.
The place is very photogenic, although finding a spot without other photographers is difficult – there’s even enforced queueing at the best vantage points. You’ll quickly realise that all the photographs available in brochures have done their best to obscure the crowded reality of the place.
Move upwards to escape the crowds, and hike along the 1,700m cape to catch some views. Keelung port stretches lazily to the east, visited by scores of cargo ships, while the mountainous spine of Taiwan rolls out endlessly to the south. The limestone rocks each bear unique monikers such as Fairy’s Shoe, Queen’s Head, the Candles. Sometimes it takes a good imaginary leap to see the resemblance, but that’s no problem as the landscape seems to feed the imagination. It’s easy to believe that while Spirited Away was inspired by Jiufen further down the coast, the particular views here are straight up Ponyo. Get Ghibli-esque and go to the moon in mind, if not in body.
Get there: Yehliu park is located in Wanli, maybe forty minutes from Taipei. Take the Jinshan Youth Activity Center bound bus from outside the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station. Buses run frequently and cheaply, 06:30 – 23:00.
Entrance fee: of 50NT (concessions available), and they speak English at the visitors center (08:00 – 17:00).
Word of the Blog: hoodoo. A hoodoo, also fantastically called a fairy chimney, is a tall, thin, rock spire that emerges from arid basin land. Who said geologists had to be boring?