October 10 is Taiwan’s national day and since it was a Thursday this year, most of the country got a four day weekend. My wife is pregnant and some pregnancy related medical conditions have kept her cooped up at home most of the time. As luck would have it, she was feeling well enough to go out that very weekend, so we decided to take a trip to Yilan in north east Taiwan.
The first day we drove from Hsinchu over to Yilan then spent the afternoon on the beach in Dongao Bay. It’s a beautiful beach with verdant cliffs coming down to the water at both ends of the bay, and clear turquoise water. Despite the long holiday it wasn’t particularly crowded, which was nice. I might not go all the way to Yilan just for that, but if you’re on this side of the island it’s worth a visit. On the way to our hotel we stopped by at Nanfangao lookout that gives a great view of Nanfangao fishing harbor and the Tofu Cape. True to her custom, Renegade Wife checked her Google maps app for anything interesting in the area, and discovered a beach with an interesting name on the far side of the cape. After a bit of extra research we decided to check it out the following day.
The morning of the second day we made our way over to Nanfangao harbor, parked our car and went down to the nearby Neipi beach. This place is quite similar to Dongao bay, and equally worth a visit, the main difference is that there are a couple of cafes there while Dongao bay is less civilized.
Perhaps a word of warning is suitable here: both Dongao bay and Neipi beach are pretty steep meaning that the waves kind bunch up and become bigger and more powerful than you would normally expect. Not only that, apparently there is a phenomenon that locals call “mad dog waves” that can wash someone out to sea, so swimmers should be extra careful.
While Neipi beach is nice, it’s not why we were there. The place that my wife had discovered has the special name Thieves Glass Beach and is located just a short distance from the eastern end of Neipei beach. To get there you follow the small road through the village to the big sign making it very clear that the road is ending:
If you are coming by car or scooter you park it here, either along the road or in the small yard in front of the last house but that will cost you some money. You then walk past the sign and follow the road until it ends in a concrete barrier in front of a sheer drop. Most people stop here to admire the view then turn around but if you step over the barrier you will find some ropes on the left side that you can use to get down the beach below.
The path is narrow and steep and it takes a little bit of climbing so there is some risk involved, enough to make it adventurous, but it’s not so much as to make it dangerous. Anyone who is reasonably fit and not too scared of heights should be able to do it. Renegade Wife stayed top side due to her medical condition but I went down.
Me descending down to the beach
The beach itself is pretty small, only a hundred meters or so from end to end, but still there are a few hidden corners that cannot be seen from above. While the beach isn’t actually secret it seems most people don’t go all they way down, so it’s a nice secluded spot to go swimming. That the beach is less steep than Neipi, and thus has smaller waves making it safer, is a bonus.
Bunch of shots from the beach
At both ends of the beach there are climbing ropes leading off somewhere, but with the wife waiting up top, I didn’t want to venture too far, so I didn’t find out where.
Climbing ropes to somewhere…
As you may have seen in some of the pictures, there’s a strange looking thing with a big red mark on it behind some cliffs at the far end of the beach. I could see that it’s made from metal and a few meters long but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I was too curious to just let it go so I had to make my way over for a closer look. As soon as I got around the cliffs, it became immediately clear that the thing is a wrecked cement truck; the truck body itself is hidden from view, stuck in a narrow ravine, and the weird round thing in the surf is the rotating cement drum that must have come loose in the crash.
After my visit to the secret beach we had lunch in one the little cafes by Neipi beach, then got in the car and headed back towards Hsinchu. We took the mountain road back, and had a nice scenic drive most of the way. Instead of going all the way back in one go, we stayed one night in a hotspring hotel near Wulai. It’s been a while since we stayed in a hotspring hotel but as always it was very nice and relaxing.
The last day of our trip we could have just headed home, but we had plenty of time so we took a small detour to the Daxi Tea Factory. As the name suggests, this is an old tea factory that has been turned into a museum. It houses an exhibition of the old tea making equipment, and in one part of the building there is still some small scale production where people are allowed to join in and see how everything works (sadly closed when we were there). I think it’s a well designed exhibition, and the fact that it’s in the old factory building with its industrial architecture gives it some nice atmosphere. I probably wouldn’t go all the way to Daxi just for this museum, but if you are traveling around in the nearby area – there are plenty of things to sea in the Hsinchu/Taoyuan mountains – it’s defiantly worth stopping by.
While the trip wasn’t quite as adventurous as it would have been before my wife became pregnant, it was still very enjoyable. We got to go out and see some beautiful landscapes and I absolutely loved the secret beach, I’ll be sure to go back some time in the future and see where those other ropes lead to. The best thing about the trip however, was the simple fact that my wife was well enough to go out for three days in a row.