Yehliu Geopark

In my 25th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, I put together a photo essay of Yehliu Geopark, which is located along the north coast of Taiwan.

Y is for Yehliu Geopark

Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei, Taiwan. We went there via the north coast shuttle bus.

The cape, known by geologists as the Yehliu Promontory, forms part of the Daliao Miocene Formation, which is what makes Yehliu a geopark. The distance from the entrance of the geopark to the end of the cape is about 1.7 km; the widest area in between is shorter than 300 m.

Breathtaking view at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Breathtaking view at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.

Yehliu Geopark is famous for its sea-erosion landscape. The rocky landscape of of the geopark has made it one of most famous wonders in the world. The influences caused by strong relentless waves, rock weathering, earth movement and crustal movement all contribute to the formation of such a rare and stunning geological landscape.

Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei.

 Yehliu Geopark can be divided into three areas. The first area contains ‘mushroom rock’ and ‘ginger rock’. You may also see the appearance of cleavage, potholes and melting erosion panels. On top of that, the famous candle shaped rock and the ice cream rock are presented in this area too.

Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations

The second area is similar to the first area – ‘mushroom rocks’ and ‘ginger rocks’ are found, but in fewer numbers. The highlights are the Queen’s Head, Dragon’s Head Rock, etc. Since the area is near the coast, rocks that develop into four different kinds of formations can be seen in this area: ‘elephant rock’, ‘fairy’s shoe’, ‘earth rock’ and ‘peanut rock’. The rocks are formed as a result of corrosion by sea water.

Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.

The third area is the wave-cut platform located on the other side of Yehliu. This area is much narrower than the second area. One side of the platform is next to steep cliffs while down below the other side are strong waves. The third area also includes the major ecology reserve of Yehliu Geopark.

Scenic view on a hill at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Scenic view on a hill at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.

Most of the spots are very close to the sea, so tourists are advised to be careful and not slip and fall down the steep slopes into the sea.

Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Geological formations at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.

The north coast shuttle bus that passes Yehliu Geopark stops at the following locations:

Scenic view at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
Scenic view at Yehliu Geopark, Wanli, New Taipei. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.

To get to the north coast shuttle bus, which is a cute little mini bus, one can take the MRT to Tamsui Station, which is right at the end of the red line. The bus station is right next to the MRT station. Tamsui itself is a scenic location worth a visit.

To read more about Yehliu Geopark, click here.

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Sun Moon Lake

For my 19th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, I have put together a photo essay about a day trip to Sun Moon Lake on 14 March 2015.

S is for Sun Moon Lake

A day at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan

After we arrived at Taiwan, we found some brochures in our first homestay not far from Taoyuan Airport. I emailed one tour operator to enquire about day tours to places like Sun Moon Lake and Alishan Mountains. A reply was received within a day, and at last the tour agency confirmed that there was a day trip to Sun Moon Lake, so we signed up for it. On the morning of the day tour, it was like the Amazing Race. We did speed walking from our second homestay to the Dazhi MRT station (12 mins), took the MRT to Taipei Main Station, and ran to the HSR (high speed rail) station. We arrived 3 mins before the train departed for Taichung, where the tour bus would pick us up.

We arrived at Taichung on time, and waited outside the station. Meanwhile, the tour guide looked for us inside the station. Unable to locate us, the mini bus departed. I saw the licence plate number as it ambled by. Luckily, I located the tour guide’s mobile phone number in my email and found a public phone to call him. He picked up and said they were coming back to get us. My, were we relieved!

Taiwanese tour agencies were trusting, and we were only required to pay for our day trip upon boarding the bus. The rate was NTD1800 per pax, inclusive of tour bus and aborigine lunch. We discovered that foreign language guided tour in our case meant Japanese-speaking tour, because the majority of the group (7) were from Japan. They had just graduated from university and decided to go on holiday together. The remainder of the group were 2 pax from Hong Kong and 2 pax from Malaysia (my friend and I).

Sun Moon Lake on a misty morning. At Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Sun Moon Lake on a misty morning. At Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.

Sun Moon Lake got its special name from the unique terrain of the lake and surrounding areas. The lake looks like a sun on one side and a crescent moon on the other. Attracting over six million visitors every year, it is one of the 8 wonders of Taiwan, and a famous source of hydroelectric power. The present lake was created when a dam was built.

Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years. During the era of Japanese Emperor Dai Sei, the Japanese decided to develop light industry in Taiwan, but they needed more power for that endeavour. In April, 1919, the Taiwan Power Company was formed and it built a dam on Sun Moon Lake for hydroelectric generation, using the Central Mountain Range’s Zhuoshui River as its water source and the natural Sun Moon Lake as a water-storage area. Sun Moon Lake was elevated to about 800 metres. A 320-metre drop in height was used to generate electricity, creating 100,000 kilowatts of electric power.

Wen Wu Temple at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Our first stop was at Wenwu Temple, a magnificent temple complex.

Our first stop was at Wenwu Temple. During the Japanese occupation period, there were two temples on the banks of the lake, Longfeng Temple in Shueishe Village and Yihua Hall in what is now Yitashao. However, when the hydroelectric power plant was built, the water level rose, and the temples had to be removed. The Japanese electric company paid compensation, and the temple managers decided to combine their resources to build a single new temple at Songboling on the northern shore of the lake. The result was today’s Wenwu Temple. The architecture of the temple has the palace style of northern China. A large and magnificent structure, it is comprised of three separate halls.

Ceiling decorations in Wen Wu Temple, at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Intricate decorations adorn the ceilings of Wenwu Temple

Before the round-the-lake road was built, the only way to get to Wenwu Temple was to take a boat to the pier below the temple and climb up a very steep flight of steps. These steps were popularly known as the ‘stairway to Heaven’.

Wen Wu Temple at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Wenwu Temple is beautifully decorated and looked after with the utmost care
People and their beloved pets rest in the Wen Wu Temple grounds. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
People and their beloved pets rest in the Wenwu Temple grounds. The Taiwanese are seen regularly taking their beautiful dogs out for walks and exercise.

Our second stop was at the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. Sun Moon Lake Station lies to the southeast of Sun Moon Lake, the north of Ita Thao community, and the west of Youth Activity Center. The ride offers a bird’s eye view of the lake and the hilly forest adjacent to it.

Sun Moon Lake ropeway. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Sun Moon Lake ropeway. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.

After a sumptuous aborigine lunch, we went to the jetty nearby for our lake cruise. By that time, the mist had cleared sufficient for us to see the scenery.

Lake cruise jetty at Sun Moon Lake. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Lake cruise jetty at Sun Moon Lake
Traditional fishing raft and net at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Traditional fishing raft and net at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan

The smallest island in Taiwan is in the middle of Sun Moon Lake. It was originally a mountain peak, but with the construction of the hydroelectric dam, the water level rose about 800 metres. The mountain became submerged, and only the peak is now visible.

Smallest island in Taiwan is in the middle of Sun Moon Lake. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Smallest island in Taiwan is in the middle of Sun Moon Lake

Another interesting item to note are rafts planted with edible plants by the aborigines. The plants are harvest for food. The rafts in turn are positioned near jetties and other areas to block the waves caused by the cruise ships coming in too fast.

Rafts planted with edible plants by the aborigines at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan. Photo taken on 14 March 2015.
Rafts planted with edible plants by the aborigines at Sun Moon Lake