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TAIWAN                      DIARY 7   



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From Diary 6 and the northern mountains, I now head up along the northern coast and into Taipei.
The young people sure know how to make me feel old. The check-in app have several ages: 1-16, 16-25, 26-30 and 30-800. I have to check the last... Breakfast and preparation for lunch at the local 7-Eleven, who still have salad.

I find the costal Highway 2, which should be offering some "stunning views". Well, not compared to the eastern Highway 9, but I guess better than central Taipei. Here are round hills, covered in high grass and short bamboo. The coast is mainly made up by round boulders, but a few places, the sand have found peace.

I do some walks and a longer stop at a small light tower - to eat my breakfast. Here are some small conches and other sea-creature-remains to be found on the beach, and it is clear; none have been here for a while. Despite the proximity of Taipei, the beaches here are apparently not popular. In Taiwan, it is always "all or nothing".

Around noon, I reach the Yinshan Temple from 1822. It is a Hakka temple, where they praises their Diggungand Buddha. Diggungand is one of Buddha's more rare personalities, and the Hakka originates from the mainland. It is a small temple, and quite humble, although the carvings are magnificent.

Here is a set of the Jiaobei Blocks, which I have seen many times, but these have been used way more! Their Fortune Sticks are also real old and used. The carvings in the sealing and the columns are not that sophisticated, but artistic brilliant.

The doors must have been replaced recently, but the new drawings are great too. Seen from the outside, this little temple look so wrong, squeezed in between the huge, modern buildings. It is a little and humble temple, and I'm glad I went around it.

The next on my list is the Di-re Valley or Beitou Terminal Valley. It was considered one of Taiwan's great scenic wonders during the Japanese area, but here have clearly been made some tough altercations recently. It is a boardwalk around a steaming lake all right, and it is a lot of warm water for sure.
From time to time, small bobbles arises from the sandy button, and the area have a familiar odour of sulphur hydroxide.

I head into the countryside again, and when I finally clear the city, the huge, green hills take over. In the middle of them, I find the Xiaoyoukeng Fumarole. It is yet another thermal wonder, but here, it is sulphuric air that arises. The else so nice, green hill look like it have exploded, and steam is oozing out of the gab.

I find one parking lot, but fail to find any paths leading up near the place. The two meter grass is a tough guardian, and the knee deep mud a allied, one have to respect. The next parking lot have a 500 meter trail through the dense bamboo thickening to - the third parking lot and the actual spot. Besides from the steam, a single, little hole it bobbling.

Instead of taking the straight tour home, right through Taipei, I head out to the coast again, and follow Highway 2. In Keelung, I try to spot a restaurant area, but the one I find, have no parking lots. Home in the fishing village; Haikeguan, I try the other half of the town.

Finally, after fifteen "no", I get a girl to show me their cabbage, carrots, cucumber and a few other vegetables. "Yes, that is what I want". And yes, I have fried rice along. I wait quite some time, and then I get a huge plate of fragrant fried rice  - with crabs, shrimps and sausages. And perhaps a half spring onion. I send it back. Then I get fried rice with only an egg, and then four different treated vegetables on another plate. Great!

Back at dusk to start the usual work and some planning for the last two days. I have narrowed it down to Taipei, and by now, I'm not really that eager to seek out temples in the big city. But the botanical garden is a must, and Bao's Temple should be too. While I'm there, Dihua Street could be worth the effort. And the last day down the Highway 9 maybe?

17/2 A short tour around the local harbour give some amassing mirror-photos. Then I drive straight into the Taipei Botanical Garden. On the way, I pass the central plaza with The Presidential Building. Again, I have this "Sunday morning-feeling".

The botanical garden is not that big, nor that interesting at all. Here are a few collections, and one is new to me: The Chinese Zodiac Plants. Well; plants which have the name "Tiger" build in - or Rabbit, Monkey, Pig and so on. The signs are absolutely their greatest feature! I do all the trails and try to capture the best with the camera, but I can't get a hour to go here.

Not that fare away - 15 kilometres, is Dihua Street, which should have some Chinese medicine shops and other interesting vendors. I find it, but fail to see the interesting part at all. Nearby is Bao's Temple, famous for its decorations and a "must-visit". I park some distance away, and walk through the old streets and alleys.

Bao's Temple is really big and beautiful. I do several loops and try to capture the very detailed work, bonsais, roofs, doors and all the carvings in sandstone and wood. They are preparing some sort of festival with lots of gifts on tables. It have just been renovated, but is have fare from lost its spirit. Bao's Temple.

It is barley noon, and I figure I pay Quingsham Temple a visit. It is famous for its woodcarvings, and here are the same show with tables full of offerings going on. Further more, the temple is pretty well visited, mainly by locals, but also with three bus-full of Asian tourists/pilgrims.

I am in one of the busy trading areas, and go for a walk. As every where else, it is all small shops, and they are mixed more than in many other alike countries. Food, mopeds, religious items and clothing are found right next to each other.
I find several long, narrow alleys, which have glass roof and lots of small shops. The only thing I buy is a set of Jiaobei Blocks. I get an employed at a temple to explain how they works. You say a prayer, ask a question and throw them. If they land with both round sides up, it is a "no". One side each way, and it is a "yes". Both flat up, and it is a "what do you think". Must come in handy...

The restaurant that served me yesterday, are able to produce yet four other vegetable dishes and a new soup too. A pity I will be on the other side of Taipei tomorrow evening. Back to work, and plan the last day in Taiwan. My plan about Highway 9 fails, as I have to end way out on the other side of Taipei. It seems like Dongyanshan Forest Recreation Area is the most realistic.

18/2 I start a bit early, bud do some detours in the mountains on the way to Dongyanshan Forest Recreation Area. Here are surprisingly many people, but it is Saturday. They are all geared-up with walking sticks, tracking-boots or white rubber-boots, stuffed back-packs, selfie-sticks, goggles, lunch-boxes and whatever you can imagine. I got my T-shirt, trousers, flip-flops and mini-camera.

Considering I only spend two hours, walking all the trails which are open, I think they might over-do it a bit. On the first two kilometres, there are four toilet blocks, fully equipped, and here are even a restaurant half-way in.
Never the less, I find some new plants already on the way up here, and it continues within the area. Here are even a single flowering terrestrial orchid!

The park also includes a Fossil Area, which I had been looking forward to. It turns out to be a few, big boulders, overgrown with lichen and mosses, under a roof. The thoughts I had about "bringing your own hammer" was unnecessary.

Here are not that many animals, but I find a single Hairy Snail, which is rather large. It seems like the forest have been under heavy cultivation in the past, and huge areas are even-aged conifers. The day started with sun, but at noon, it have been exchanged with a cold wind in the heights.

As I head down towards Taipei, I passes the entreating Sanxai once again, and take a stroll thought the old street and a bit around in the newer ones. Here are fewer people than I had thought, and not surprised, I fail to find anything to buy.

I end up in another end of Taipei, and find an overpriced place to park the car. Then it turns out the hostel are closed during the mid-day. Well, I can practice the drive to the airport. I rather sleep a bit longer, and it might involve several stories of roads, confusing the GPS.
Back at the hostel, I organises my bag for airports checks, and then head out in the surrounding trading area. Here are form old, almost falling apart buildings to some quite modern.

And with that as a key-word: I got this, a bit strange feeling: Taiwan had a generation or two, who really worked hard. They build the cities, the roads, the trails in the park and so on. That was in 1979-80. Since then, they have been resting, and when things start to fall apart now, they either don't bother, and can't find out mending things.
Considering how many buildings and roads here are, it is conspicuously how little construction is going on today.
The last photos are in North Cost and Taipei.

And as it is the last evening, I will sum up my journey. It have been a great three weeks. The mountains are absolutely astonishing. The contrast between city and unspoiled nature is made up by a narrow road. I have never experienced that before.
It would be a great advantage to speak and read Chinese, as most Taiwanese don't understand a word English. And being a vegetarian is not an option, unless you are willing to live of, what 7-Eleven offers.
I have been driven 3960 kilometres around this little island, but the mountain roads are long! I have taken 5220 photos. It is not a inexpensive country to travel and live in, but the nature experiences make up for it!
I have spend 21.200 DKK; 1275 in total.

Flight (1/3 tour) 3.660 491
Local transport 8.041 1.078
Car 0 0
Gasoline 1.122 150
Enters 995 133
Insurance  471 63
Gadgets 688 92
Food, drink 2.283 306
Hotels 3.953 530
 Total: 21.214 1.275

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3  4  5  6  7