Taitung - How to go to Green Island (綠島) [Taiwan Day 972 to 975: Legends Finale "The Burning Island" - May 2, 2016] | Travel in Asia

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Taitung - How to go to Green Island (綠島) [Taiwan Day 972 to 975: Legends Finale "The Burning Island" - May 2, 2016]


Taitung is not just a province along the east coast of Taiwan. It has two islands located in the Pacific Ocean that have its own history and culture. Myths and legends surround one of these islands called Ludao and I was so excited to explore it for the first time. Its 33 kilometers distance from coast of Taiwan was not a hindrance to reach the paradise famous for snorkeling and scuba diving. A 50-minute ride in a ferry boat took me to my destination and I was so eager to discover the great stories from the “Fire-Burned Island”.

My ferry approaches Green Island

I had arrived at the island.

Fugang Harbor

My ferry tickets

How to go to Ludao? Just go to Fugang Harbor and buy ferry tickets going to the island. Back in Taiwan Day 973, I bought my round-trip tickets worth NTD 920 after my geological trip in XiaoYeliu since the harbor was just 15 minutes away by walking from the tourist site. I reached the harbor around 4:00 pm and I immediately talked to a staff in a ticketing office outside the passenger terminal. A guy then asked me which day I wanted to go and on which day I would return from the island. Foreigners usually book a stay in a hotel in the island for more than two days to explore all of its attractions but due to my limited budget I just asked for a return ticket within the same day of my arrival.  You can also get your ferry tickets online via Klook.

I’ve heard a lot of horror experiences of people travelling to Ludao. Giant waves can rock every passenger boat that most passengers vomit and cry for help. I asked the manager of the hostel that I was staying at about the problem of experiencing sea sickness and he told me to take a medicine 30 minutes before I board the ferry. On the day of my travel adventure, I held a small piece of paper with a hand-written Chinese name of the drug that I needed to buy. People in the harbor helped me looked for the store and I was able to buy four tablets in which I swallowed two just to survive the boat trip to Ludao.

The ferry that took me Green Island.

The ferry boat left the harbor at exactly 9:00 am and I was very surprised since the time indicated on my ticket was 9:30 am. I was actually inside when it left the harbor and it seemed that you can board a passenger boat earlier than the one indicated on your ticket. I might be wrong since I talked to the coast guards in English. They just let me inside when I presented my ticket while saying “Ludao”.

at Green Island

The boat started to sway when it was already far away from Fugang Harbor. It was not really a big movement but standing up and roaming around was dangerous so I just sat comfortably on my chair on the upper deck of the ferry while I observed the view from the window. At exactly 9:50 am, the ferry arrived at Nanliao Harbor and everybody alighted to start their own journey.

A 20 kilometer road was built around the island and the best way to see all of its attractions was to ride a scooter. The problem was I didn’t know how to use one. I knew how to bike but driving a scooter was a new experience and fear dominated my mind. An English-speaking local tourist helped me negotiate with a lady who was offering her scooter service. For a price of NTD 800, she would drove the scooter for me while I sat on the back side. It was not a bad offer so I gave her the payment and we started our adventure. I took a lot of videos while we go around the island and it was very fun.

We made our first stop on a set of caves below a rocky cliff. The site was much similar to the caves in Baxiandong and they were like magma that cooled down and were slowly uplifted by the movement of the Earth’s crust. Big waves continuously pounded the rocks until they got eroded to create hollow crevices. 

Although somehow I felt sad that my driver just passed by some of the interesting places in the island like the Jhaorih hot spring, it made me realized that one day was not really enough to enjoy the attractions in Ludao. Imagine dipping your body on one of the few salt water hot springs in the world on a hot sunny day. You probably won’t enjoy getting your skinned burned by the scalding water and also getting harmful radiation from the sun. The best time to do this kind of activity is at night time which means booking a stay in a hotel for a night or two.

I have the option of riding a bus that goes around the island but if I did that then I won’t have fantastic videos while exploring Ludao. The view of the sky, ocean and mountains was just unique and watching the videos that I got over and over again will always remind me of my exciting adventure. I held my camera on my right hand as I recorded every beautiful scenery while my left hand was wrapped tightly to the belly of my driver. 

My driver and I made a stop at Haisenping.

“Sleeping Beauty”

“Little Great Wall”

We passed by different rock formations along the coastal road with the “Sleeping Beauty” amazing every spectator at Haisenping. It looked like a human figure taking a rest on the sea. Small hills on the cliff tickled the imagination of the Taiwanese people for a bosom that they described the whole cliff as a sleeping woman hence its fairy tale name. Visitors also enjoyed the other islets which were surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean after hiking the “Little Great Wall”.

Leaving Haisenping
Ludao is also famous for the Formosa Sika Deer and during the scooter ride a pair of these animals suddenly appeared in front of our vehicle and eventually hid in the bushes on the opposite side of the road. I had asked the visitor center which time of the day I can see a lot of these animals and I learned that they usually appear at night with no assurance of being spotted. 

One of the intriguing attractions on the island was the prisoner camp. During Taiwan’s Martial Law Era, a lot of people were suspected of supporting the other side of the Taiwan Strait. They were captured and persecuted even though they were innocent. It was one of the darkest phase of Taiwan’s history that the people of Formosa will never forget. The saddest story that I’ve heard about this place were the letters that the imprisoned husbands wrote to their wives. They told their significant other that they should marry again and they deserve to be happy. 

My driver and I just passed by the Guanyin Cave area.

The prison camp is known today as the “Oasis Villa”. The name sounded like a paradise but it was really the gates of hell. My description best fits the title of this travelogue but not everything in Ludao were memories of death and suffering. The island also promises that life is the best gift from the heavens. There is a Guanyin Cave which reminds visitors of second chances when the Goddess of Mercy had helped fishermen to survived a tragedy. A picturesque lighthouse stand on the island and it was built to guide ships passing across the Pacific Ocean. Its construction before World War II had helped saved many lives. Actually, the island’s fire-burning alias was derived from the practice of guiding fishermen in the sea through the help of bonfires and it was done probably during the time when the lighthouse was not yet built. 

Another sign that Ludao is teeming with life is the fact that it is the home of a million fishes. The Kuroshio Current moves along the island and it has been blessed with colorful corals. Snorkeling and scuba diving activities are exciting attractions in Ludao and they are worth to try. 

At the end of my scooter tour, I walked for two kilometers from the Nanliao Harbor to reach the Green Island Visitor Center where a bike can be used for free. I had noticed the white sand beaches of Ludao when I was still riding on the scooter and I was dying to have my feet wet with sea water. At the visitor center, I presented my ARC and then they gave me a very nice bike. The diving spots were around the flat areas of the Huandao Road and I enjoyed myself with the waves of the Pacific Ocean at the shore. Taking photos around the island’s beaches would really eat your time so it was actually a good decision that I toured around the island first with a scooter. I asked the visitor center when I returned the bike on where should I go if I want to do snorkeling. I was thinking to go back to Ludao with friends and they told me that the hotels were actually the ones organizing this kind of activity. 

Nanliao Harbor

After having fun in the island’s white sand beaches and getting a lot information from the visitor center, I hurriedly walked to reach Nanliao Harbor within 30 minutes. The last ferry that would return to Fugang Harbor was at 4:30 pm and I remembered what the guy in the ticketing office told me that I should not be late or else there would be no refund. I successfully boarded the ferry back to Taitung and then I had my journey back to Taipei.

I arrived safely at the capital and along with me were the unforgettable stories from Eastern Taiwan namely “Land of the Immortals”, “A Thousand Years”, “Divine Mountain” and “The Burning Island”. These were my epic adventures in Taitung and it have its myth, origins and most especially its legends.

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