Angkor Wat |  Cities |  Laos |  Kinmen |  Myanmar |  Penghu |  People |  China Portraits

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Green Island - Day 2

I left the hot springs at about eleven and went to bed almost as soon as I returned to the minsu. I wanted to get up early on Monday so as to hike around the island – a walk that I anticipated would take 3.5 - 4 hours without stops, and closer to 5 hours with stops. I woke up at 7, and was off by 7:30, without breakfast and without water. I walked through the small town I was staying in and took a few pictures of the white and gray stone homes that were barely (and in some cases, not even) taller than me. I then headed out along the coast road, going east and then north. The sun rose quickly and by 8 I was sweating freely. The sun brought the island alive, though, and throughout the morning, I would marvel at the brilliance of the green. Purple and white flowers jumped into sight as well. What I enjoyed even more was the blend of scenery, with pine trees standing just behind tropical ferns. Next to the pines there might be a slim trunk of a tree bereft of leaves, but contrasting well with the deep blue sky behind it. There were also areas of wild grass and of fallen, burned out trees, The coastal scenes were brilliant as well. One area of interest was Youzihu (釉子湖), a small grouping of ancient, abandoned houses just near the water. They are visible from the main road above, and there is a road leading down to them which is easily walkable or drivable. The houses themselves, though gray and forgotten, seem right for their placement just in front of a steep green cliff and just next to a rugged strip of beach and rock. I did not spend much time walking around this cluster of ten buildings, though, as I instead wanted to walk along the beach towards a large rock that has been partially hollowed out with what appears to be, from a distance, a cave. The rock and old coral in this area were full of a variety of fascinating patters, some looking like a thousand worms crawling, others like brains, still others like hardened sponges. The only problem was the amount of litter strewn amongst the rocks.

After visiting this area, I continued on. I finally found a place to eat and buy some water near the Guangyin Cave site (觀音洞). I also ran into the Kaoshiung group while here. After eating, I continued on, stopping at various sites to take pictures. The sun moved ever high and turned ever hotter. Despite the many layers of sunscreen I put on, my too big nose turned a bright red one more time, and the back of my hands and legs crisped. By the time I reached the north coast, I was soaked through, but despite the many people who drove by offering to rent my a bike, I decided I wanted to walk the whole way. Near the village of GongGuan (公館), I saw several decent places to stay, some bars that advertised staying open until 3, and several shops geared towards snorkeling. It was near here that I stopped to sit on a wall near where a group of Taiwanese were snorkeling. I wanted to go into the water myself, but had no swimsuit. Instead I left my shoes on a shell littered stretch of beach and walked amid the small pools of water filling the holes in the coral beach. Some of the pools were deep enough to reach my shorts and so clear that I could watch the fish swimming in them. Directly ahead was the island of Taiwan hazy and large-looking in the distance. There were also several nice cafes near this stretch of coast, as well as several places that once must have appeared nice but are now closed, with patios overgrown by wild grass. The north coast is full of snorkeling places, restaurants and hotels, and this is where most of the action seems to be centered. I also saw some small twenty-four hour grocery stores, most of them in between ChungLiao Village and NanLiao Village, a stretch of land which wraps around the northwest corner of the island and down halfway along the west coast. This area also includes a large number of souvenir shops, the airport and the harbor. By the time I made it here, I decided to speed the pace of my walk just a little bit, as I was becoming quite overwhelmed by the heat.

I made it back to my minsu just before 2. I wanted to take a 2:30 boat back to Taidong, but I had no ride to the harbor. The owner of the minsu was not around and so I knocked on the door of the neighboring house. An old man answered the door and I told him I wanted to take a boat at 2:30 but I had no way to get to the harbor. Did he know someone who could help me? I was pretty sure he said yes, and so I went up to my room to take a quick shower and pack. I was back downstairs by 2:10 and found the man separating some fish drying in the sun on a mat on the ground. He told me that he would take me himself, and this was how I found myself being driven to the harbor by a seventy year old man who had no real reason for taking me and had no intention of asking me for money. When I think about all the nice things that people did for me on this trip, I am really overwhelmed – embarrassed really. I am also thankful for the Chinese that I have picked up, and have gained a bit of confidence for the summer/fall trip to the mainland.

On the boat ride to Taidong, I saw the group from Kaoshiung again, and one of the guys saved a seat for me, as I was one of the last to buy a ticket and the boat was nearly full. Then, at the train station in Taidong (incidentally, for those curious, the cab ride from harbor to train station is, on a metered taxi, 300NT), I ran into one of the couples I had eaten dinner with on Lanyu. They told me that the weather had stayed nice after all. We shared stories of our days and took pictures. Then we boarded the train and headed back to Taipei. On the train ride back, I took great pleasure in watching the sun set over the rice fields and mountains as I chatted with two young South Korean boys who were born in Taiwan and going to an American school. They were very curious about me and they were just like what I imagine American kids to be these days, playing with game boys and cell phone cameras and talking about the crazy things they found on the internet. I also talked with their father, a pastor who had studied Chinese literature and we talked a lot about traveling and about education and about life. By the time we arrived in Taipei, as the family departed, they all called out their good-byes, and the boys even said “We’ll miss you, Alan!” What a great ending to the trip.


Post a Comment

<< Home