26 July 2008

Our final adventure found Pat and I at Yeliu (野柳) Geological Park, a considerable distance from Taipei. Because of the 45 minute journey, our bus was quite comfortable with comfy seats, and plenty of leg room. The downside to having such a luxurious coach is that you can't tell where you are, let alone discern which stop is yours. We were promptly helped by the locals, when we confidently headed to the front of the bus 15 minutes early.

An especially bulbous 
sandstone formation

Upon arriving, it was a short walk to the park, which is notable for it's sandstone formations. As the sandstone gets eroded by tides, wind, and other sand in the water and wind, the harder layer on top remains.This produces fragile looking protrusions from the ground that have the potential to resemble human figures, like Taiwan's famous Nephertiti Head. 

The African Princess's Head-
smaller than expected

The formation is lauded as one of Taiwan's natural treasures, and it is quite fascinating. However, I was expecting something more American Southwest in scale. Regardless of the size, though, many of these formations are indeed endangered.

Funky sandstone formations, 
whipped up by the wind.

The queens head isn't expected to last for much longer, as her "neck" is shrinking by the year. So little time! The threats of erosion are not only significant from the wind and water, but also from the tourists that traipse all over the nifty squiggly rock.

Squiggly alien landscape

Some are even so daring as to get on top of the formations, which will inevitably lead to the sqigglies eventual disappearance.

Taiwanese tourists, their 
own brand of rule-breaking

The park is also a place where the ocean and the shore cohabitate, making for some dramatic interplay. Because the sandstone is so fragile, the shore is little more than a steep, rounded drop-off into the ocean. 
Ominous, yet ignored warning signs

That's probably why the powers that be decided to paint a red line on the sandstone shore, with multiple signs reading "Danger!" -- none of which were heeded by any tourist present, myself and Pat included. The Taiwanese have a slightly-more-than-healthy fear of water, and take it upon themselves to restrict citizens and, especially, tourists from even the most remote risk of drowning. That said, the following picture is much more safe than it looks.

Pat is perfectly safe. 
The angle gives a daring feel, though.

This place, pretty as it looks in the noontime sun, is best visited in the cooler months, or in the morning if you must on a summer day. By about 2 pm, I was spent, and had to get out of the sun and heat.


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