As we all know, international travel isn’t possible with a global pandemic going on but domestic travel is still possible, at least here in Taiwan. We’ve been thinking of going back to Yilan and the secret beach for a while now and last weekend we decided to do it. Previous trips with the baby have either been day trips or trips back to Yinis parents house where we already have plenty of baby things. This was the first time staying overnight in hotel with the baby which was an entirely new experience for us but we decided to take on the challenge.
We spent the majority of the first day on preparations as well as driving from Hsinchu to Yilan. With a stop for lunch along the way the journey went smoothly. It was raining when we got there so after checking in at the hotel we spent the rest of the afternoon at a Museum which was nice but nothing special. Thanks to some good preparation, a bit of inventiveness from my wife, and a cooperative baby, the first night in the hotel went pretty well. Me, my wife and our two friends who were traveling with us even managed to play games and chat in our room while the baby was sleeping.
On the second day we set off towards Taipingshan deep in the mountains southwest of Yilan city. Due to some kind of activity in the area it took us most of the morning to reach our destination. There we hiked the short but very cool Jianqing Huaigu Trail. It follows the tracks of an old logging industry railway with the old rails still visible all along the trail. A thick fog came rolling in just as we were approaching the trail head, and combined with the high altitude pine forest it really gave the place a different feeling then most other mountain trails I’ve hiked in Taiwan. In moments when there were not so many other people around it felt kind of eerie. It’s hard to describe what I mean without pictures, so here are a few:
Eerie atmosphere with mist engulfing the trail
Even when there’s no mist to give the place that special atmosphere, the trail is still pretty cool with a couple of places where the tracks cross a small gorge, rusty rails and moss covered crossties suspended in the air, as well as two rope bridges that swing side to side as you walk across. Despite being quite deep in the mountains I think it’s really worth the long drive to hike this trail.
Just as we were leaving the trail it started to rain. Since I was carrying the baby I got the privilege of taking the only umbrella so I was mostly dry but by the time we got back to the cars the others were all soaked. We headed down from the mountains hoping the rain would clear up when we got closer to the coast. Sadly it didn’t so we ended up spending the afternoon in a restaurant. That evening the baby was a bit more sensitive to light and sounds so we couldn’t sit and chat like the night before without waking him up. My wife decided to stay with him in one room while I spent the evening chatting to our friends in the other room. Thank you for that honey.
On the morning of day three we went to Nanfangao so Yini could retrace her steps from last time but with a baby rather than a pregnant belly. We of course showed our friends the secrete beach at the other side of the cape. I worried a bit about getting down while carrying the baby and it was hard but in the end I managed. Though it’s my second time there I still think it’s cool with a beach that’s only reachable by climbing or by boat. Our friends were less impressed but I think they still enjoyed it.
After an hour or two on the beach it started raining so we climbed back up to seek shelter. Since the rain didn’t seem to be stopping we gave up our plans for going back to the beach and headed to the Yilan Arts Center instead. The place is at least partially indoors which makes it suitable for rainy weather. The arts center is kind of like a culture focused amusement park, but without any real rides. There’s a old town street with shops selling handicrafts, an exhibition center, a lake where you can take boat rides, and several old buildings that have been moved there from other parts of the country. I’m normally not so interested in this type of places, I prefer real amusement parks with rides or authentic old houses, but I found this particular place to be surprisingly good. Not to say I would travel to Yilan just to visit, but if you are already in the area I would recommend adding it to the list of places to go.
When we got out from the arts center it was already getting dark so we went for dinner then said good bye to Jean and April who where going home, and headed to the hotel. That night went better than the previous one, we could relax in the room with a few lights on while the baby slept. I guess he was getting more used to sleeping in the little travel bed.
The morning of our last day was really nice and sunny for a change. I hade hoped to go back to Nanfangao harbor to get a few more shots with my drone and with such good weather I had to take the chance. You can see the results below.
Before driving home we made one last stop at a place called Dongshan Brown Avenue. It’s really nothing more than a small bike road winding its way between lush green fields but that, in all it’s simplicity, is quite beautiful. Since we had the stroller it didn’t make sense for us to rent bikes and ride around, but we did go for a walk and just take in the surroundings. There is a more famous Brown Avenue in Taidong which I think is worth a visit, but if that’s too far to go, this can be a good alternative.
To sum up this trip, I think the most important point is that it went surprisingly well to go traveling with a baby. A big part of the reason it went so well is that Yini did a lot of preparation before we took off, and she also did a lot of work during the trip. I really have to thank her for that, it wouldn’t have been enjoyable, or even possible, otherwise. Part of it is also the simple fact that our baby is very easy to take care of. In the end I think both me, Yini and our friends had fun despite the less than perfect weather.