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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Ximen Arch, Taiwan

My computer is out of the ICU now, with a new replacement chip. =P  So, in my 24th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, it is back to posting photos. I put together a photo essay of Ximen Arch, located along the north coast of Taiwan.

X for Ximen Arch

Ximen Arch is one of the first stops along the north coast shuttle bus route. It is a scenic route that travels the winding roads along the north coast beaches and pretty hills and villages.

Ximen Arch. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Ximen Arch. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.

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.

Rocky beach in front of Ximen Arch. A white Chinese bridge gleams in the sunshine. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Rocky beach in front of Ximen Arch. A white Chinese bridge gleams in the sunshine.

If you get to the bus station really early, purchasing a day pass is worthwhile, as you can get on and off the shuttle bus as many times as you want throughout the day. The last bus back to the station should make its rounds around 4.30 pm. The bus goes from the Tamsui MRT station to Keelung Train Station (TRA), which is near the Keelung Port. There’s a night market there as well, worth a visit to sample some of the famous Taiwanese street food.

Seaweed abound in the rocky pools at the beach in front of Ximen Arch. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Seaweed abound in the rocky pools at the beach in front of Ximen Arch. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.

The shuttle bus stops at the following locations:

To find out more about the north coast shuttle bus and route, click here.

Military installation at Ximen Arch beach. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Military installation at Ximen Arch beach.
Bees and butterflies hover around wildflowers in full bloom everywhere in Taiwan. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Bees and butterflies hover around wildflowers in full bloom everywhere in Taiwan in March.

Growing on the sand beside the beach was a multitude of wildflowers. Blue skies and great weather led to good lighting to feature these humble little blooms.

Wildflowers bloom in the spring at Ximen Arch beach. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.
Wildflowers bloom in the spring at Ximen Arch beach.

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

Happiness

For my 8th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, I decided to write a poem on a classic topic – the pursuit of happiness. If someone were to find an Eureka instant fix for happiness, he or she would be a billionnaire overnight. 🙂

H for HAPPINESS

The Happiness Within

Happiness; ’tis an age-old pursuit
Humanity’s constant search
Would you rather refute?
Looking, high as the bird’s perch

How much for happiness?
Per chance a billion or two?
How much for completeness?
To make one whole; goodbye woe?

What does it take?
Conquer the highest mountain?
Swim to the abyss of a lake?
Drink from eternal youth’s fountain?

Who can bequeath it?
A father or mother?
The best mate; perfect fit?
Or why does one bother?

Happiness; ‘tis not a void
To be filled and quenched
A gaping hollow; fixed by Freud
Or a deal to be clinched

Happiness comes from within
From the heart and soul; enduring
Fulfilment sprouts from therein
Life enriched; love encompassing

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
9 April 2015

View of the sea from Yehliu Geopark. Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei, Taiwan. The cape, known by geologists as the Yehliu Promontory, forms part of the Daliao Miocene Formation. Photo taken on 12 March 2014.
View of the sea from Yehliu Geopark. Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei, Taiwan. The cape, known by geologists as the Yehliu Promontory, forms part of the Daliao Miocene Formation. Photo taken on 12 March 2015.

C is for Cherry Blossoms

On the third day of the A-to-Z Challenge, I wrote a photo essay on cherry blossoms in Taiwan. Hope you like the flowers as much as I did. 🙂

 

C is for CHERRY BLOSSOMS

The cherry blossoms of Taiwan

Every spring, Taiwan’s cherry blossom varieties bloom from February to April. Flowers range from white to yellow to pink. Some varieties have five petals on each flower, while other varieties have twenty petals or even a hundred! To read up more on cherry blossom varieties, click here.

There are a few favourite cherry blossom viewing locations in Taiwan, including Yangmingshan National Park of Taipei, Wulai and Alishan Mountain. I decided to visit the nearest viewing place, which was Yangmingshan National Park. The park can be reached via public bus Red5 from the Jiantian MRT station. That was the bus I got on.

 

Yangminshan National Park, Taipei
Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei

 

The Yangmingshan Flower Festival stretches from 26 February to 28 March.  Visitors to the park can spend the day exploring its 90 hectares of beautiful Chinese-style gardens, complete with walking trails, fish ponds, fountains, buildings and pavilions.

Cherry blossoms
Five-petaled yoshino cherry blossoms

 

Yoshino cherry blossoms are common in Yangmingshan National Park and produce slightly pink, almost white, five-petaled blossoms. They are particularly eye-catching because their fresh leaves do not emerge until after the peak of the flowering season.

 

Butterfly in the cherry blossom tree
A butterfly in a yoshino cherry blossom tree

 

Cherry blossoms
Yoshino cherry blossoms

 

I loved the cherry blossoms. I did not know that cherry blossoms were common in Taiwan, until I did some research online in preparation for this trip.

 

Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossom trees

 

Cherry blossoms in Yangminshan National Park, Taipei
Cherry blossoms in Yangminshan National Park, Taipei

 

Another variety of cherry blossom common in Taiwan is the Formosan cherry, which is also known as the Taiwan mountain-cherry tree. Its bright pink flowers can light up the skyline when blossoming in tandem, and are considered by many to be the most beautiful.

 

 

Pink sakura
Pink formosan cherry blossom

 

Cherry blossoms with more than five petals  are called yaezakura varieties. They are usually the last trees to open their flowers, with blooming periods about two to four weeks after most five-petaled species have flowered.

 

Multi-petaled cherry blossom
Yaezakura cherry blossoms

 

 

 

Beacon & Field

I just came back from a 10-day trip to Taiwan last Friday, and returned with over 820 photos taken with my trusty Canon 60D. I just love the photos taken with this camera, and the fast shutter speed is just awesome. I’m not into taking ‘selfies’ or ‘wefies’, but opt instead for nature, scenery and macro shots. In the city, I like to dabble in a bit of street photography to showcase the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. More often than not, my photos remind me not only of the place, time and people, but also evoke some of the feelings from that point in time.

For RonovanWrites Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt Challenge #36, the prompt words were Field and Beacon. I was inspired by springtime in Taiwan and the many beautiful flowers blossoming in profusion to write this week’s haiku. In fact, it stars the famous daffodil. 🙂

Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan

Daffodils

Like beacons in fields
Snowy white with yellow lips
Heralding springtime

A springtime haiku by
Khor Hui Min
22 March 2015

Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan

My favourite daffodil poem from my student days is by William Wordsworth (1770-1850). You can read the poem here. I find it remarkable that the poet could make the scene come alive and the daffodils dance with his prose.

Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
Photo taken on 13 March 2015 at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan