It is five a.m. We are up even before our usual alarm goes off. I guess by now, our bodies have adapted to the constant traveling, so waking up is practically the easiest thing to do. The weather outside is still freezing cold, but we are brave enough to walk our way to the meeting place. We have booked a day tour to Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen, and Shifen. It’s going to be a very long day.
We reach the pickup point earlier than most of the tourists. A tomboyish girl walks out the bus with the widest smile. She introduces herself and I notice her accent. Even for a local she has a smooth American accent, which I find amusing.
Everyone takes time in figuring out where to seat, one-by-one. Of course, I always choose the seat by the window. I like seeing what’s outside, daydreaming of being outdoors for life.
She cracks a joke to get us all comfortable. Afterwards, she asks about our nationalities. Some are from Singapore, and other countries I can barely remember. It’s a large group. And I tend to feel like drowning whenever I am surrounded by people. So I put on my earphones and blasts my travel playlist until we reach the destination.
Our first stop is Yehliu Geopark. I have been here before. Back in 2017, my colleagues and I visited this magnificent tourist spot. It was almost near the end of winter, just before the dawn of spring. The winds were so cold, I could almost feel little bits of drizzle with it.
March 2017, days before spring
We alighted at a junction. The bus we rode from Taipei Main Station’s only drop off point for Yehliu Geopark is here. We are lost. And it’s starting to rain.
Sudden downpour requires an umbrella which we currently don’t have. We searched for a convenience store to buy ourselves transparent umbrellas. Ironically, the rain started to subside when we reached a Family Mart store.
On our way back, we passed by a long stretch of dock with large barges anchored on it’s edges. I saw some fishermen sitting quietly with their fishing tackles. They blend in so much with the stillness of the water.
Stumbling upon these beautiful sights, for me, is the icing on top of the cake. It is refreshing and humbling to experience a very simple countryside life like this.
Countless number of buses are parked in the vicinity of the site. We line up as instructed by our guide, waiting for our tickets. The ticketing area is almost unrecognizable in the ocean of tourists standing in groups, wanting to get inside.
We walk some more til we reach the entrance. I am already holding my camera because of my excitement going in. A flock of tourists continuously enter the turnstiles. Their cameras and videocams are so high, I can’t get a peek of anything in front of me.
On our right, is a terrace with an impeccable view of Yehliu Geopark’s entirety. In retrospect, it’s the best vantage point in getting the shots. I should have stayed there longer.
We continue walking until we meet an intersection. The left section is the best place to start. The bridge leads to the most otherworldly scene my eyes have ever seen. Yehliu Geopark is like this place where Earth meets Mars. Martian-like limestone formations stick out unevenly on the bay. Its bright yellow colour contrasts the cool blue water.
I take a closer look at the formations. One-by-one, I picture them so I can peruse on it when I get home. They are all so unique. Some create illusions of certain figures. Like for an instance, the Queen’s head. It is the most famed of all the rocks here. Lines and lines of people await for their turn just to get a photo beside it. I was lucky I was able to get one the first time I was here.
The waves crush louder and louder and the breezes, gentler. I swear, you can close your eyes, meditate for a while, and just listen to the ocean—hear what it wants to say. To take things slow and get to know the world more. I think that’s what it said to me.
Since our time is ticking—very fast—we decided to see the other side of the site. We walk alongside unknown faces on the longest pathway of Yehliu Geopark. A few portions of it are actually a good place to get your photos taken. There’s this railed bridge where the view is so breathtaking, you need to take a photo when you’re there.
Two hours is enough to see everything here. I need to get moving. The day is long but my bucket list is longer. One more thing is, my main priority is to see Jiufen. I have been waiting for this my whole life. My goal is to stay there longer—longer than I will ever be on any site here in Taiwan.