Typically during the winter, northern Taiwan is cold and wet but the southern part tends to stay drier and is always warmer. So with the weather in Taipei being so terrible at Chinese New Year, the only thing we could do was head to Kaohsuing, rent scooters and see what we could find.
Having not bothered to book anything, we were a bit apprehensive about the trip and when the scooter rental shops by the high speed rail station had nothing, we started to worry that we’d just be stuck in the city but after a quick MRT ride into Town, we found place with bikes and were on our way.
The Yanchao Mud Volcanoes 燕巢泥火山
First port of call was the mud volcanoes by Yanchao 燕巢. The landscape here is made mostly from mud and looks more like a lunar landscape than somewhere on Earth.
There are several mud volcanoes spread around the area though some appear to be dormant. The largest ones we saw were at New Yangnu 新養女 and are so large that they have to be fenced off. Presumably to stop people falling into them!
Next we went to Meinong, a Hakka town, for some food and a have look around. It was busy, as are all touristy areas during CNY, and so we just ate and left. The grub was excellent though. I just can’t get enough of Hakka food!
The Liugui Tunnels 六龜隧道
Our final destination was Liugui. This area was very devastated by Typhoon Morakot and is nowhere near recovered. We visited the Liugui tunnels which used to be the road that led to Liugui but were abandoned and opened up for tourists to wander through. We got through a few of them but unfortunately the 4th one is blocked by a landslide and we couldn’t go all the way.
The roads in this area are in a terrible state with many section missing and temporary roads built in the river bed. The bridges that were washed away seem to be close to completion but I can’t imagine the temporary roads will last the summer. One person we spoke to said that the abandoned Liugui tunnels may end up being used again with a one way system in place.
We didn’t have anywhere to stay in Liugui and were just looking a place to put up our tent. We were fortunate enough to find a hotspring hotel that let us use their covered pavilion as a campsite and we were treated to hot showers and good food.
The next day started off bright but before we could finish breakfast it clouded over and the sky began to look decidedly bruised. We packed up and headed back towards Kaohsuing on the opposite side of the river to the one we road the previous day. This side faired no better during Morakot. The picture below shows just how much sand and rock was deposited. The road pictured was subsequently dug out and the remains of homes and temples can be seen poking through the rubble.
The Dajin Waterfall 大津瀑布
We passed the turn off for Maolin and carried on south. On the way we spotted a sign for the Dajin waterfall and pulled over to have a look. It’s a few kilometers along a paved path and only took 30 minutes or so to get to.
By the time we got down the rain had started again and so we high tailed it back to Kaohsuing and went to Chiashan 柴山 not far from the harbour.
This place is famous for it’s Formosan Macaques and is a pleasant place to go for a walk. Before we even got near to the mountain trail, we spotted a group of Macaques hanging around the temple and on the trail there were even more. It’s seems they come to be photographed and scrounge food from the tourists. The Macaques were mostly well behaved but every now and then a baby would get hold of some food and then the adults go ape-shit and steal it.
I’d say it’s best not to take any food with you in case they gang up and forcefully take it as nearly happened to a few people when we were there.
For directions, have a look at the map below. Also the hotel that let us camp is called Songbalin.