Friday 5 July 2013

Taiwan: Taipei (part 2)

After a good breakfast, we headed off to Yang Ming Shan (陽明山) via a mini van from exit 1 of Shilin MRT station. I had a hard time deciding between this and Yeh Liu Geopark (野柳地質公園). It was really nice to be with nature again. Our first stop was Leng Shui Keng (冷水坑) where it contains Taiwan's sole bed of precipitated sulfur. Sulfurous fumes vented in the bed of this marshy lake turn the water murky. After gradually precipitating, the sulfur forms whitish-yellow or pale gray layers in the lake bed. Popularly known as Milk Lake (牛奶湖), the lake is only approximately 40°C (104°F) in temperature, and not the 90°C (194°F) or more found in some hot springs (Taken from Wiki). There's a hot spring right across from the Milk Lake and a free foot-soak pool outside. It was such a treat for our feet after completing one of the walking trails.

Then we went to Xiao Yu Keng (小油坑) which is located at an elevation of 800 meters (2,624 ft) and contains a host of volcanically-created fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs, and landslides. Sulfur vents noisily spew forth gases, and hot springs discharge endless streams of boiling water (again, from Wiki). The smell of sulphur was overwhelming but it was quite fascinating at the same time. Mother nature never cease to amaze me.

After dinner we headed to enjoy the night view of Taipei from Chinese Culture University (文化大學) which is just a few stops away from Yang Ming Shan. It must be quite a famous place for night view of Taipei because it was quite crowded! The wind was super strong though and I couldn't get a good night shot because my hand kept shaking due to the wind. Then this really nice student(?) from the university offered me his tripod because I was trying to balance my camera dangerously on a rock. So I managed to get a good shot of nightview. So touched :')

Pingxi line (平溪線) runs through the Ruifang and Pingxi Districts and was originally built to transport coal. There are several stations along the line Sandiaoling (三貂嶺), Dahua (大華), Shifen (十分), Wanggu (望古), Lingjiao (嶺腳), Pingxi (平溪) and Jingtong (菁桐). Some of the stations are mainly residential, the ones that tourists frequent are Shifen, Pingxi and Jingtong. We took a train to Ruifang and bought an unlimited Pingxi train pass for NT52. Our first stop was Shifen and we headed straight for the waterfall which is 15 minutes walk away. The entrance fee was NT70 for students. I thought you could wade in the pool below the waterfall and er swim or something but nah. It's all fenced up. But it was a good thing we arrived before the flock of tourist buses so we managed to take photos of the unblocked waterfall. We also went to Pingxi and Jingtong stations. By now, all the old streets start looking identical. We decided to do the one thing most people come to Pingxi to do - release a sky lantern! I wish we could have gathered all the tourists there and release the sky lanterns together. It would be such a sight to see the night sky sparkling with them.

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