So finally we are halfway through Taiwan Tales – a journal account of my 2 week grad trip to Taiwan back in 2007. So far we’ve made it to Taipei, down to Hualien and Ruisui and finally ended up on the lovely island of Lyudao, one of my favourite spots in Taiwan and spent a few days exploring it.
SNORKELING IN SHILANG
Our first full day on the island – now that we are properly recovered from the previous day’s worst ferry ride ever, we head on down to Shilang to do a little snorkelling. Our hostel arranged this for us – we get suited up in some pretty new wetsuits and masks before heading out onto the water. The tide is fairly low now, and we can walk out onto a wooden platform that stretches into the sea.
Our snorkeling guide is a very tanned local man called Jiao Lian or Coach. He’s a tough uncle with lots of local knowledge – he showed us how to use these particular leaves to rub against the inside lenses of the masks so as to stop it from fogging up, which is way better and much more hygienic than spitting.
We jump into the really, really blue waters and it was COLD – thank goodness for the long and thick wetsuit which I thought was a bit overkill at first. We didn’t even really have to swim a lot really – Jiao Lian unleashed a string of hot pink floats which we just hung on to and let him pull us around on. There wasn’t much to see in the shallow areas – think the snorkellers and divers alike have depleted any coral there. But further out there’s a drop off point, and that’s when you start seeing the fishes and colourful coral.
Unfortunately my mask was pretty leaky and the water gets all up in my nose area, making me sneeze a lot. The cold water takes its toll when you’re floating along and not swimming so much, so after snorkelling for an hour, I was pretty glad to get out and take a nice hot shower.
RENTING A CAR FOR OUR ROAD TRIP
Give yourself a little time if you plan to rent a car because hardly anyone rents a car here. It took half an hour for them to locate a car – scooters meanwhile are plentiful and that’s what most people are riding. There is also only one gas station on the island so make sure to fuel up
These days, electric scooters are pretty common and you don’t need a license to ride them because they can’t go above a certain speed limit. I love them and was really happy to be riding one when I was there in a later trip.
SIGHTS TO SEE IN LYUDAO
We went out looking for the historical prison that Lyudao is famous for, and ended up stumbling on an actual real, still in use prison instead, confusing a bunch of guards by barging onto the premises…
We all take turns to drive and we circle the island to the east side where it’s more hilly area and we found this lovely lookout point. Xiao Chang Chen is a little lined path which connects to 2 little pavillions at the end of it, giving an AMAZING view of the sea. It’s also the best place to see the Sleeping Beauty and Pekinese Dog rocks.
We continue driving all around the island. We finished the entire drive in about 2+ hours. It’s not a very big island~ After that, we managed to persuade our hostel owner Ah Wu to let us try out his Scooter to see if we can manage to ride that instead of driving the car. I found it really heavy and hard to maneuver so I only managed a really short distance. P accidentally dropped the scooter (OOPS), but luckily nothing broke~ So much for scootering around~
LYUDAO BY NIGHT
We take a nap till dinner time and head down to Nanliao village again for dinner – to the same place as before. The owner was fabulous – he recognized us and cooked up his specialities for us – the best kind of food is the sort you don’t have to order! Super fresh fish, Ma Po Tofu, Hot Spring Prawns, cuttlefish… yum yum! And it was cheap too~
We worked off dinner by doing some shopping in the little shops around town. There was a cute little shop called Jungle where I ended up buying a number of hand-drawn postcards and other knick-knacks.
Our hostel arranged a night tour of the island for us, so we zoomed back quickly and it turns out our guide was Jiao Lian, the same guy who took us for our morning snorkeling trip. He drove along in his scooter while we followed behind in the car. The first thing he brought us to see was Sika deer, a protected species on the island. Interesting factoid – female deer’s eyes glow green when you shine a light on it, and the male ones glow red! How strange~ We totally would not have picked out any of the deer in the pitch dark without Jiao Lian’s super sharp eyes and powerful torch~
Jiao Lian was a fantastic guide – very informative and enthusiastic. He also showed us a green stick insect creature, which floated over from Japan on driftwood and apparently only found Lyudao and Lanyu! He put it on my sleeve as I was the least squeamish and it crawled up my arm. Unfortunately, our particular insect had lost 2 legs in Jiao Lian’s struggle to capture it, oops!
We then headed to the Guan Yin Cave where we found a bunch of toads crowded around the lights waiting for their insect meal. Jiao Lian told us how these frogs are ‘vain’, as they have black ‘lipstick’ and the tips of their toes are black, like nail polish! Jiao Lian picked up 2 frogs and proceeded to give a live demo on how they mated o_O
Green Island seems to have a lot of mystical rocks. Besides the Sleeping Beauty/Pekinese Dog rocks, the Guan Yin cave also has a rock which is supposed to look like Guan Yin (or apparently, also like the biblical Mary, but that’s not something you say out loud there, heh). I couldn’t really see the Guan Yin shape in the rock though. We also saw a bunch of other rocks – one which looked like an old man riding a turtle, a fish, a dragon/snake looking rock that smoked (for real! our guide put a cigarette to the hole in the rock and it lit up like someone smoking!)… and a real toad that really looked like a rock. There were lots of coins in the pool – it’s good luck if you manage to hit the toad! Poor toady~ No pix cause it was pretty dark and I couldn’t get decent shots.
On the way back we saw 2 big Sika deer with their horns cut off. C and P were shocked when Jiao Lian said their ‘Jiao’ (Leg has the same phonetic sound as Horn in Chinese) were cut off to be used for Medicine, ahhaha.) Back at the hostel, Ah Wu showed us the little deer sleeping in the back of the guesthouse. It seemed a tad cruel at first, keeping a deer on a leash at the guesthouse, but we learnt that Xiaowu had rescued the baby deer and raised it by hand, which was quite sweet.
Then it was off to sleep for a very short night’s sleep – we had to wake up at 3am to catch the sunrise at the hot springs.
See what happened the day before when we just arrived in Lyudao after a choppy ferry ride, and what happened next when we went to the famous hot springs for sunrise, or see all my Taiwan grad trip posts.