Monday, December 5, 2016

Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) - Pingxi (平溪) - Shifen (十分) - Shifen skylantern (十分天灯) [Travel in Taiwan 161204: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part II]



I slept in the sofa and I didn't expect that it would be so comfortable. It was like made for me. The following day Gueen had to see her cousin so the three of us continued the tour on December 4. I showed them some of my past adventures in my blog and they got excited to see Yehliu Geopark and the Pingxi sky lanterns for the finale of their Taiwan trip.

We started our journey at the Taipei City Hall Bus Station where Bus 1815 took us to Wanli District. From the MRT Taipei City Hall Station, we went to Exit 2 and we were at the bus station immediately. We used our EasyCard to pay the fare and the travel time was approximately one hour. If we had taken the bus at Taipei Main Station then the journey would have been one hour and a half. I had been to Yehliu twice so I knew where to alight. There was no “Yehliu Geopark” bus stop but rather the world “Yehliu” was the bus stop name that I had to wait for before pressing the alight button.


My student ticket

The map of Yehliu Geopark at the back of the ticket.
Ticket prices

Adult tickets in Yehliu Geopark were priced at NTD 80 but I only paid NTD 40 since I study here in Taiwan. Even though my friends paid more for the entrance, it was still very cheap considering the vast number of geological wonders from the Miocene Epoch that could be found in one place. I told my Travel Buddies to check the back of their tickets and they were surprised that it was a map of the geopark.

The mushroom rock area

A mushroom rock

Travel Buddy Gueen with the heart-shape rock



The Queen's Head area. The place is still dominated by mushroom rocks but most people come here to have photos with the Queen's Head rock.

There were two main areas in the park. The first one is the mushroom rock area where the ice cream rock and the candlesticks can be found at its far end. The other major portion of the park is the Queen's Head Area where people make a queue to pay their respects for Taiwan's royal highness. I took my friends to the mushroom rock area first and I still got amazed upon seeing the rock formations. 

Do you want to have photo with the Queen's Head? If yes, then you must follow the queue.

Travel Buddy Avi while waiting for her turn to have a photo with the Queen's Head. Haha!

The Queen's Head

The "princess" rock is on the right side.

If there's a Queen's Head then there must be a “princess” somewhere in Yehliu Geopark. We found it and decided to have a group picture. I told my friends that the Princess Rock would someday inherit the throne of the “queen”. Taiwan is deeply concerned of the weathering of the Queen's Head. Her neck is getting sexier as the years pass by that something must be done to prevent her head from falling to the floor. Heads will definitely roll if that ever happens. Funny and sad at the same time but it's true!


Notice the red line behind us.

Yehliu Geopark is situated beside the sea.
Travel Buddy Avi with her seaside photo

Unlike my first visit in 2014, the park administration this year was more aggressive in reminding visitors not to step on the rocks. If you do then you would hear a whistle from the guard. It was a good thing that it rained making the rocks wet and not good to sit on. The painted red line was still there which acts as a warning of the danger that awaits if visitors passed over that line. Yehliu Geopark is situated on a seashore and just imagine yourself slipping in the rocks and falling into the sea. 

"Forgiven"



behind the scene

What did my houseguests do? Well, they made cute faces just like what they did in the flower festival in Shilin. Gueen wanted to have the word “forgiven” in her shirt shown in the photos. She looked at the sky in one picture like she had already forgotten a sad memory kept hidden deep inside her heart. What about Avi? “Oh my god!” I said to myself. She has the face on an angel. Anytime, she is ready to spread her wings and fly.

Ice cream rock

candlesticks



But amidst the fun in taking photos in Yehliu, were my friends able to notice the other rock formations like the hippopotamus rock, Cinderella's slipper and the gorilla rock? I doubt because it was really to fun to take pictures in Yehliu. An hour or two wasn't really enough to explore the whole park and four hours is needed if you want to climb the cliff. Add the Yehliu Ocean Park to your itinerary and you would need one whole day to spend in Yehliu.

Bus 862 took us to Keelung.

Keelung Station
We boarded a local train at Keelung Station.
Since we took a train at Keeling, we alighted at Qidu Station and transferred to a train going to Ruifang Station.



We waited for the Pingxi train at Ruifang Station.

After our fun trip in Wanli District, we decided to go to Shifen in Pingxi District. We boarded Bus 862 and went to Keelung Station. My Travel Buddies and I were already inside the train going to Taipei when I realized that the train won't stop in Ruifang. So we had to alight at Qidu Station and then transferred to another train going to Ruifang Station to wait for the Pingxi train. It was a smart decision but we should have boarded a bus in Keelung going to Ruifang instead of riding two trains. At Ruifang Station, the next Pingxi train would arrive in one hour and we used the time to have our dinner in a convenience store.

TRA timetable booklet
While waiting for the Pingxi train, I checked the items in this souvenir store beside the platform in Ruifang Station.

Most visitors going to Pingxi District would buy a One-Day Pass ticket but since we only plan to visit Shifen our EasyCard was enough to pay the fare. A free booklet containing the train schedules of the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) was also being given for free for all the passengers. I was so happy to receive this kind of freebie. Now, travelling around Taiwan would be so easy because I can easily check the schedules of trains without the need to connect to the internet.

Shifen old street
Visitors getting ready to release their sky lanterns

It was already 7:00 pm when we arrived at Shifen Old Street. The darkness of the night didn't stop visitors from arriving at Taiwan's nostalgic town of sky lantern. The place was still alive with lanterns flying every minute. People who wrote their wishes and prayers to the lanterns were hopeful that the gods and goddesses of Taiwan would soon grant their dreams and desires. 

Discussion with a seller about the meanings of the colors of the sky lanterns

The pile of lanterns. Visitors can choose from a single color lantern (right side) for NTD 150 to a four-color lantern (left-side) which costs NTD 200. 

sky lantern color cheat sheet

Gueen and Avi didn't waste time and ordered a four-color lantern from a store for a price of NTD 200. Each color has a meaning and I let my Travel Buddies decide which color they want. Actually, it took them time to choose the right combination of colors. “Oh! These ladies...” I said to myself as they searched in a pile of lanterns the right one that would bring their wishes to the heavens. 

preparing the sky lantern

A fire would be lit on this pieces of paper after my friends were done writing their wishes.

The water-based ink and paintbrushes were on the sides of the clothes line.

Time for my friends to write their wishes

And they begin...

Travel Buddy Avi looks at the cheat sheet while writing. lol

No copying please. Haha!

I watched closely as a woman clipped their chosen lantern and hung it on a clothes line. My friends then started writing their wishes using a paintbrush. One side of the lantern faces Gueen and the other one for Avi. The two women won't let the other occupy the whole page so after writing their wishes they would exchange places to also write on the other side of the lantern. The process was repeated for the other sides of the lantern with the assistance of a store staff. 


releasing their sky lanterns

When they were done, their lantern was opened in the middle of the Pingxi railroad and a fire was lit underneath it. The beautiful memory of their sky lantern experience in Shifen was preserved with a video that I took for them. Their hearts were filled with happiness as they released their lantern to the sky. 

My houseguests as they packed their things.


And then they left my house. :(

Back home, they hurriedly packed their bags and luggage. Their flight was scheduled to leave Taoyuan International Airport at 1:00 am and within two hours they would be in Manila. I knew from their faces that they wanted to stay longer but they have go back because they have work. My house is always open for them so there is no reason to be sad. They can always go back in Taipei and I will always welcome them with open arms. These ladies made history in my travel adventures as the first Filipinos to join my trips in Taiwan straight from Manila. They weren't just Travel Buddies. They also lived in my house. 

at MRT Nangang Exhibition Hall Exit 5.  They went to Taipei City Hall Bus Station to board a bus going to Taoyuan International Airport.  Their flight was at 1:00 am and within 2 hours they safely landed in Manila.
Keep dreaming Gueen and Avi! Continue travelling around the world my dear Houseguests #1 and #2.

Travel in Taiwan 161202: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part I
Travel in Taiwan 161204: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part II

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