We decided to make a day trip out to Yeliu and Shifen after moving from the farm to the Taipei apartment, as the weather was forecast to be sunny over the weekend. This was our second visit, our first being when Junior J was two, and I was expecting Lil J. Time really does fly!
The geopark is very popular with tourists, and is really packed on weekends. It almost impossible to have nice family photos, without having someone's head or legs photo-bombing your shots. However, even with the crowds, it is a really lovely place to visit. Just try to pick a weekday, and check the weather forecast! There is little shelter, so bring your sunscreen and hats, and wear comfortable footwear as there are rocky places to traverse.
Upon entering the park, you will first have to walk through an area that resembles a regular park, with lots of plants. This area features some rock formations amidst all the greenery, and is usually crawling with tourists trying to take photos.
Beyond that, you will hit a small stretch of sandy beach, which is probably the only area within the park where the kids can dip their feet (so crocs/sandals are great if the weather isn't too cold). Do note they are not supposed to climb on the rocks in the water for safety reasons. If you do, you'll be reminded not to by the warning whistle of the guard standing on duty! This is the area that the kids loved the most, so we let them dig around for awhile before moving on. The sand here is really coarse, and there are also broken bits of glass washed up on the beach, so do keep a sharp eye on the kids when they are digging, and ensure they clear their sandals of sand before moving on.
The path beyond the beach meanders through the park, and we spent a fair bit of time admiring the scenery and spotting crabs in various holes, as well as giant sand dollars buried in the rocks. Most paths are wheelchair-friendly, so you'd find you can still navigate your way through with a pram. However, there are a fair bit of steps, and the fun part is getting off the path to walk amidst some of the rock formations, so it's best to bring a baby carrier instead of a pram, if you have little ones that can't walk for long distances.
The kids loved giving names to the various rock formations that they saw. One was a great dinosaur poop (they gamely posed for this shot!), while another was a dragon (hence all the roaring in the photo).
Yeliu is really lovely, and I won't mind visiting again the next round. Just not on a weekend!
Shifen was our next stop after Yeliu, however, we were quite tired out and didn't do much exploring, and opted not to visit it's famous waterfall. This railroad town is pretty touristy, and was packed to the brim with tourists that day (again, don't visit on a weekend!).
We decided to do what everyone else was doing, which was to paint and release a sky lantern along the railroad track. These lanterns were used for signaling purposes in the past, and now many flock to the town for that sole purpose. About half of the shops along Pingxi Old Street seem dedicated to selling these lanterns! The kids loved painting on their lantern (there are lots of colour combinations to choose from), and Junior J painted dinosaurs while Lil J painted monsters:
... and usually the person who helps you to light the lantern also helps you to snap family photos too!
I had quite a thrill seeing the lantern go up!
Lanterns aside, both sides of the railway track are filled with shops selling various souvenirs and food. We were too tired to do much shopping, so we opted to plonk ourselves down at a shop to eat shaved ice desserts, and watch everyone scramble off the tracks when a train approached.
We did venture into one shop though (I can't recall the name, but it has a bright yellow signboard), which sold all sorts of lovely wooden handicrafts. I couldn't resist getting the little train, which was quite a steal (it was NT100 for 3 letters, and NT50 each for the caboose and engine)!
PS: This post is part of a series of posts for our third visit to Taiwan. For our trip itinerary, go here, and you can read about our first and second trips to Taiwan here, and here.