Whenever I’ve been out at the north-east coast of Taiwan, I’ve thought that the road along the coast is really nice for riding a motorbike. However, the times I’ve been there have always coincided with the time that plenty of other people have been there as well, that is, traffic has been too heavy for me to really enjoy the road. I figured the best remedy for this problem would be to go there in the early morning, probably around sunrise or so.
Now, I do enjoy going out together with my wife, and taking a ride through some beautiful landscape with her on the back of the bike. However, carrying a passenger can kind of throw off your balance which is less than ideal when you purely want to focus on the ride. So, me and the wife made a plan to go to Keelung together, then I could get up at sunrise, ride along the coast on my own and we could meet up again in Yilan for the trip home. Lately the weather has been pretty bad and last weekend, when we were planning to go, it was raining. I ended up riding to Keelung alone while the wife took the train. The next morning, despite the heavy drizzle, I set off at sunrise like planned. When I got to Yilan, it was still raining with no sign of letting up so the wife, quite sensibly, opted to take the train home and leave me to ride back in the rain.
The cost road was indeed fun, and I think I would have enjoyed it massively if the weather was a bit better. Road number nine which goes from Yilan, through the mountains, to Taipei was even better. The asphalt is smoother, the road is wider, the curves flow more smoothly. It’s overall a great road for anyone with a bike or a sports car; even with the rain that road was magical.
The trip wasn’t just riding my motorbike (though that was the major part). After meeting up in Keelung, the wife and I had a few hours to spend before it got dark. With the bad weather, the various hiking trails and view points in the area were out of the question but Renegade Wife, whose super hero name should probably be “Google Maps Girl”, had found a cave we could go to, which is suitable for a rainy afternoon.
Buddha Hand Cave is located just a short distance north of Keelung train station. The map is somewhat deceptive because it looks like there is only one cave when in reality there are two. One is the actual Buddha Hand Cave, and the other is a temple set inside a cave. The temple is very obvious from the road and there is a parking lot in front of it. The entrance to the Buddha Hand Cave is up a narrow little side street just next to the temple. Some of the concrete plates of the road surface are marked with a little symbol indicating the cave, following these should make it easier to fund.
The Buddha Hand Cave is pretty good but I think the temple is much cooler. At first it looks more or less like a normal temple with altars, tables of offerings and statues of gods along the walls. The only noticeable difference is that the roof and walls are the irregular, bare rock walls of a cave.
Just as we were about to leave my wife discovered an opening in the wall just to the left of one of the altars. Getting closer we saw that it was a narrow crevice burrowing deep into the rock. It was too narrow and winding to see where it led but the fluorescent lights on the wall indicated there must be something at the other end. We had to go in one by one and at times it was so narrow we had to go sideways or so low we had to squat down. At the very end, probably twenty meters in, was a small chamber with a tiny shrine. There was some incense burning in a pot by the shrine, which filled the little chamber, as well as the last few meters of the passage, with smoke. It’s not for claustrophobic people but I think it’s really cool.
For people who enjoy caves I can highly recommend both the Buddha Hand Cave and the crevice in the temple. For dinner that night we went to a restaurant called Puffer fish that I can really recommend. They serve excellent Italian food at some pretty decent prices. What makes it a little bit extra nice is that the dining room is inside a cave.
It’s a real pity the weather was so bad, but other than that it was a very enjoyable weekend trip.