If you’re planning a trip up north Taiwan, you should definitely consider taking the Golden Fulong Shuttle. It’s a touristic shuttle bus that drives from Ruifang to Fulong, all along the north east coast of Taiwan. This coastal part of Taiwan features amazing rock formations, nice sand beaches, dramatic cliffs and sleepy misty hills.
This route is called the Golden Route because the region around Jiufen used to be famous for its gold mines, its yellow-brown famous Gold Waterfalls, as well as the yellow-brownish eroded peculiar rocks and finally its golden sand beach in Fulong. This route is full of bright promises, right?
This route is full of bright promises, right?
These are the shuttle bus stops (in bold, the stops I actually went to):
RUIFANG –JIUFEN -GOLD MUSEUM –GOLD WATERFALLS -NANYA NANXIN TEMPLE –BITOU –LONGDONG BAY –AODI –YANLIAO –FULONG
THE GOLD WATERFALLS
The gold waterfalls are surely some unexpected kind of waterfalls. The yellow-brownish rocks make the water even clearer. The contrast with the bright green mountain plants is astonishing. It does look like gold is rushing down the mountain.
Actually, the colour of the rock is a result of the copper mines which used to flourish in the region. The rain did its work well, the deposit mixed itself with the rock. Sadly, that also means the water is no longer drinkable.
NANYA NANXIN TEMPLE
I knew the rock formations I came here to see were there, on the other side of the road. By the sea. But there was a path just here, leading to the mountains. I couldn’t help but follow it. It was a bit muddy and slippery and started to get narrower and narrower as I walked into the jungle. The butterflies and dragonflies were dancing all around me, in a festival of colours. Black, white, blue, orange.
The path got less and less easy to follow, I regretted I wasn’t equipped enough on that day – wearing Converse instead of my hiking boots. Suddenly, the thought of snakes hit me and I couldn’t help but turn back. Okay, I might be a little bit of a pussy.
Finally, the rock formations there were beautiful. It was easy to imagine an ice cream cone here, and a planet Mars landscape-like over there. I had clearly missed the sight of the sea spreading as far as my eyes can see. It’s vivifying, it’s calming, soothing.
On my map, I can see that there’s a lighthouse trail in Bitou: Bitou Jiao. I’m already soaked in sweat but I could do a little hike – I’m becoming fed up with the bus. As most of the popular hikes in Taiwan, there are steps all along the way –it’s a bit frustrating to never be able to touch the ground- making it easier. However, this little hike is stunning.
Starting from the low jungle, the path brings me up in the mountains with an astonishing view. All I can see around me is either green or blue. The round shaped mountains on one side, the Pacific Ocean on the other. I follow the ridge, the sun is hitting me hard – I have no shade coming from the trees up here, I’m totally exposed and I can feel my face burning.
I’m sweaty but happy. My thoughts are set wild free as I’m listening to my MP3 player. I even dance a little, when I’m sure no one’s looking.
There’s not much going on in this little village, except if you’re the scuba diving/free diving/ snorkelling type. After a little walk south the village, you’ll reach the fishing harbour. You can indeed rent some scuba diving and snorkelling gear right beside the harbour in little shops.
From there, those pretty nice red arrows lead me to a very nice snorkelling spot called the Dragon Caves. The water is clear and there are so many colourful fish swimming around: electric blue, yellow, rainbow, it’s a treat. It’s possible to climb a little rocky island to jump into the water: there are many ropes to help you climb it. It took me about 30 minutes to decide whether or not I was feeling like jumping -although it’s not that much higher than 3 meters, but it’s so impressive from up there – and finally closed my eyes and jumped. What a feeling!
Fulong is the shuttle bus’s last stop. You have to pay 100NT$ to access the beach, which kind of pissed me off: I mean, seriously, why paying to go to the beach? I then understand that this beach is quite famous for its golden sand (usually the beach are rocky) and that it’s a private one. It belongs to the hotel nearby. (Nevertheless, I still hate to pay access to go to the bloody beach.)
To my surprise, there’s a sandcastle contest taking place at Fulong Beach. And sandcastle is clearly a euphemism when I stumble upon those gigantic sand sculptures. The details are incredible, I stood there completely puzzled facing this huge sculpture displaying a sort of dome on a hill, with stairs, and with Spiderman climbing on the hillside.
I haven’t brought my swimming suit. Anyway, the delimited square to bath into the Ocean is way too small to swim properly. I heard that the Taiwanese coast is a dangerous place to swim, the bottom of the sea being quite deep even close from the coastline and the currents being very strong. However, that’s what Taiwanese people say. Knowing that a lot of them don’t even know how to swim. I still bath my feet into the refreshing water. It’s the first time I put my feet into the Pacific Ocean since I left New Zealand. And it is greeting me back.
I’M ALONE AND THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE
On my way back, I stop again in Jiufen. I think I fell in love with this little-overcrowded-town. There are enough tea shops to make me feel comfortable there for a while. Today, I finally spent some time near the Ocean. Today, I finally spent some time hiking. Those were two things I missed the most when I was in Taipei. I wanted to be able to be left alone for a while, my thoughts drifting while I’m contemplating some wild landscapes.
People often get worried that I might be alone. But you know what? I actually enjoy my lonely time as much as I love meeting new people or creating bonds with friends. I’m a day dreamer. Which means that my imagination can only be released when I’m left alone. And I actually discovered back in New Zealand that hiking is my favourite way of day dreaming. Today my day dreams were filled with things that might have happened if I had stayed in France and things that might happen if I stay in Taiwan.
At the end of the day, I made my decision. I’d rather fulfil my days with day dreams, hikes and lovely round mountains beside the Ocean than to go back. Actually, I even need more of those.
And I know exactly where to find it.
LET’S GO THERE!:
THE FULONG GOLDEN ROUTE SHUTTLE BUS – departs from Ruifang