During my first time in Taiwan, my Ate's itinerary revolved basically just around the city including temples, restos, observatories and night markets. Since pass na kami parehas ni Ava dyan, we were both game for nature adventures including this recently famous Taiwan tourist destination Yehliu Geopark.
Sabi ni Ava, she realized that she has been to Yehliu na before, long long time ago nung hindi pa daw ganyang katao. That time wala pang mga harang or red line markings indicating till where lang pwede mag lakad, and definitely wala pang officials na pumipito every time may pasaway na sasandal or umaakyat sa mga bato (hahaha). Iba na talaga ang dynamics ngayon ng traveling! People really go out of their way to take the best of the best pictures, haha! When we went there, medyo nashock ako sa flow ng tao, talagang riot! Haha! To think hindi pa ito ang peak day and hour, so asa "pwede na din" sya!
Outside of Taipei, Yehliu is in the north coast of Taiwan where (obviously) you'll find the Yehliu Geopark. This landscape is known for its quirky rock formations, almost resembling giant mushrooms. In my eyes, it seems you're transported to another planet if not for the gazillion tourists with their bopping cameras, posing from one rock formation to another. Earthling invasion! Hehehe.
How to go: Take the train to Taipei Main Station, then from there you can take the Yehliu bus (just ask train peeps). The bus ride will take about 1.5 hours. Go down Yehliu, and then just type Yehliu Geopark on your Google Maps for a short (10 minute) walk.
We chanced upon a wharf area, and sobrang ganda nya sa mata so I asked Ava that we stop for a while so I can take art shots. Ang ganda ng weather, I was even able to use my pink GU coat kasi medyo cool but not freezing. I also asked for my OOTD photos from Ava before we proceeded to walking. I later on read online na shooting location daw to ng Meteor Garden?? Hahaha! We weren't intentionally looking for MG locations during this trip so medyo natawa ako when I learned about this! 😂
Finally! The entrance to the Yehliu Geopark! Wala sa kalingkingan of my Korea walks from the bus stop to the park, kayang kaya niyo to! Hehe!
By the gate, there are pictures on the bulletin boards showing the different rock formations to expect inside, but I think wala sa kalahati nakita namin dito! The place seems small, but it's actually HUGE! If you have a lot of time, pwede ka mag trekking if gusto mo, haha! I love that it is also very near the water. Ang ganda sa mata. I was excited to enter and just enjoy the view!
Ticket was sold by the entrance at 80 TWD:
Welcome to planet mars! Hehehe.
Emote emote habang walang tao sa likod, lels!
I saw different pathways and bridges. We just picked whichever felt like a good place to take pictures!
We often found spots where there were totally no tourists, or pakonti konti lang, so yehey!
Feeling lost in nowhere land, hehehe:
Ang amazing lang isipin, that all these odd rocks are but created by the earth's movement.
When we finally found the popular Cleopatra or the Queen's Head, there was a line na inavail nadin namin kahit medyo mahaba. When it was our turn na, we asked the person after us to take our duo photo. Talagang yung angle lang from the line ang best angle to see the rock, pag nasa likod ka or sa side iba na itsura nya--ang galing! After that, we were ready na to move on to our next destination.
Ghibli in Taiwan: Authentic Ghibli Store at ATT 4 Fun + Jiufen
Before I go to our next stop on our second day, I just have to say na sobrang nalimutan ko how "VERY JAPAN" Taiwan is to me back when I went there in 2014! I received a comment online na this is because Taiwan was formerly invaded by Japan. But other than the deep, historical roots, the obvious signs are everywhere! ANG DAMING STUDIO GHIBLI MERCH???
Donguri Republic in ATT 4 Fun
At the basement of the mall right across Taipei 101 is a Ghibli heaven that reminds me so much of either the Studio Ghibli park in Tokyo or the store in Yokohama! It's as if I am back in Japan!
They have the Cat Bus, a sleeping Totoro that makes breathing sounds when you push a button (!), and a No Face photo area complete with props! It's just a store, but panalo ang photo areas. I also had to buy a keychain souvenir since the merch here are guaranteed legit, and just so the cashier peeps won't think we just went there to take pictures! Haha!
How to go: Go down Taipei 101 Station, and cross the street to the ATT 4 Fun mall. Donguri Republic is in basement 1.
It looks like a forest, and when you peek inside the giant tree...
...You'll see the sleeping Totoro!
Finally, a Cat Bus that can accommodate even adults! Akk!
Ava needs a photo with No Face from Spirited Away! Hehe!
Studio Ghibli comics and CDs! What a collection!
So tempted to hoard, haha:
Back to our last stop for our second day, we were running late as we started the day late, and we also just took our sweet time with our lunch after Yehliu (in a convenience store, no less! Haha!). It's okay though, we had one more destination that we can go to... And it's what they call "the inspiration for Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away"....
Jiufen, also located in Northern Taiwan, is formerly a gold mining mountain town built by the Japanese during the occupation. It served as Japanese prisoner of war camp where soldiers were forced to work in the gold mines. Till now, you will see the maze of alleys and unchanged buildings with evident Japanese architectural influence.
How to go: From Yehliu, we took the bus again going back to Taipei Main Station. Take the train to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (Brown / Blue line), and then go out Exit 2. Take Keelung Bus 1062 to Jiufen. Just ask the train peeps to clarify, usually there are local volunteers who help out tourists at the stations! Nakakatuwa. Bus fare is about 100TWD, I just used my Easy Card to pay.
It was already night time when we stepped out of the bus. May time na na-a-are we there yet? na kami ni Ava sa haba ng bus ride, haha! I think it took us about an hour or so. I also think that the delays of the day were blessings in disguise. I usually just see pictures of Jiufen during the day... When actually, it has that real Spirited Away vibe at night with all the red lanterns casting a faint light on our dimmed paths to the famous tea house... (teka ang lalim! hahaha!)
The dogs of Jiufen! Super sikat pala sila sa lahat ng naka punta na dito, haha!
Still, Studio Ghibli spotted here and there!
I am not sure what the old man holding on a harang na wooden bar saw in us, but he asked where we came from, and then allowed us to go in and then up their tea house...
...Which turned out to be right in front of the popular tea house that inspired Spirited Away's bath house!!!
Perfect view! Thank you to the ahjussi who allowed us to go in!!!
Just one more selfie before heading back to the bus!
Back in Taipei / Dinner
We took the same route heading back from Jiufen via bus to the MRT for Taipei. When we arrived in Ava's house, I was BEAT tired from just sitting inside the bus almost the whole day! Ang haba ng mga byahe! It was worth it though, and again, I was excited to see new things in Taiwan and these are all but part of it.
We just stepped in Ava's house, when her mom asked us if we want to eat outside in a walking distance eatery that they usually go to. Music to my ears! Of course, why not!? G po ako dyan! Haha ha kapalmuks! 😂
With stomachs rumbling from having just convenience store food for lunch, a bit tired from exploring the whole day, I welcomed these warm, authentic Taiwanese food and hot bowl of rice in my belly as we chat with Ava's mom and aunt on our day's adventures. How the weather in Yehliu was so so good for a summer day, and how arriving late in Jiufen turned out to be better with all the red lanterns lighted up. We went on and on how we felt that luck was on our side just because nakaka good vibes to see even the littlest things this way--yung simpleng hindi ka naligaw, or ang sarap ng nakainan mo--and everything else that comes with traveling you'll hear me and Ava go: "Grabe, ang swerte natin!" Haha!
To be continued!
Watch my Taiwan Instagram Stories Day 2:
Day 2 realization: If you want to go to both Jiufen and Shifen in one day, check out this tour offered by Klook at Php 1000+ only! Or better yet, check out this convenient shuttle bus that will take you to Yehliu, Shifen, and Jiufen in one day!!! Akk!