Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Donggang and Lamay Island Day 2/東港と小琉球:二日目

Day two of my trip to Lamay Island.  We woke up bright and early (well, sort of) and I took a couple of photos of the camp area.

Hardcore, nature enthusiasts would probably point out that this is camping only in the same way that pitching a tent in your backyard is camping, and that's true, but look at the view from this cliff that we were on!  If it were clearer, we probably could have seen mainland Formosa.
We spent this day cycling around to Lamay's tourist spots.  The one they seem to like to advertise the most is this rock:
It's called "Flower Vase Rock", and it is pretty neat.

Next to Flower Vase Rock was a temple with some neat guardian dog/lion things.
The Flower Vase Rock is near the port on the north-east coast of the island.  After visiting it, we started to head around the island in a clockwise direction, staying near the coast.  At the first lookout point, we received a lesson on the dynamics of heavy rainfall and loose soil.

There were also pretty flowers and old-timey bicycle statues.
A stop at a local temple (of which there are an awful lot for an island with such a small population) where I took a photo of the local Kirin Beer logo impersonator.
I stopped by this elementary school again to photo the sign in daylight.  The sign is interesting if you can read Chinese characters, because the placement of the word for "country" comes right after the Chinese name for the island, Lewchew.  (I'm using one of the funky, way-cool historic spellings here.  Ryukyu and Liuqiu are the more standard spellings, one which would be used when you are translating from Japanese, and the other for Chinese.)
So why is this cool?  There was a Lewchew Kingdom, which you surely already know about since I wrote about it in previous blog posts about my trip to Okinawa.  You have committed all of my frighteningly interesting posts to memory, right?
At any rate, the character for country in this sign is related to the fact that the public elementary schools in Taiwan are controlled at the national level, so the school is a "national" elementary school.  The "Lewchew" that appears before that is because this island is known as "Small Lewchew" in Chinese, perhaps because the island is made of coral, like many of the islands in Okinawa which were part of the Kingdom of Lewchew, or perhaps in reference to the fact that way back when, many Chinese, and by extension European, maps referred to the Taiwan area as "Lewchew Minor" and the Okinawa area as "Lewchew Major".  This despite the fact that the island of Formosa is way bigger than all of the Okinawan islands combined.  (It was because Okinawa had a Kingdom with a king who lived in a palace and wore fancy hats, while the inhabitants of Formosa belonged to smaller groups who did more hunting and were therefore considered less civilized and therefore less important.  Though they did wear fancy hats too.)  I actually don't know why the island is called "Small Lewchew" in Chinese.
So basically, the sign says "Small Lewchew National Elementary School", but if you cut off the small at the front, it looks like it is a national school of the independent country of Lewchew, a country that no longer exists.  That's what I thought was cool.  And yes, I did drag my travel buddy here twice just to take pictures of the sign.  She was very patient with me.
After taking important photos of signage, we went across the street to this shaved ice store.  We actually had stopped in here the previous night, and the owners were very friendly, and the mango ice was extremely delicious, so we came again.  Shaved ice in Taiwan is typically served in huge bowls with lots of fresh fruit and syrup all over the place.  I've never seen shaved ice on quite the same level in the US, though it wouldn't surprise me if it exists in neighborhoods with large Asian populations.  I bet it costs at least three times as much in the US though.

Another interesting thing I noted during this trip:  While you do see the occasional helmet-less scofflaw in Tainan, the majority of scooter riders do wear helmets.  When we got to Donggang (covered in the last post) I noticed way more people riding without helmets.  When we got to Lamay Island, I saw almost no one wearing a helmet.  Apparently the police on Lamay don't enforce helmet laws.  Is there generally a correlation between traveling south in Taiwan and disregard for scooter helmet laws?  Further study is warranted.
Pretty cool beach!

Hey, it was pretty hot out.

Above: Another weird rock formation.
Below: The author of this blog, possibly engaging in risky photographing-while-riding behavior, or perhaps taking photos after having stopped his bike by the side of the road.  More cool rock formations and more law-breaking on view.
We wanted to visit the international lighthouse on Lamay.  Of course, since it has to be very visible, it's on top of a tall hill, probably the biggest hill on the island.  This is a photo from the middle of our death-ride up the hill.  I'll admit, we walked a lot.  You would have too.  I didn't even have access to all of my gears on my bike because the front shifter wouldn't shift out of the middle gear.
There was a really old tree on the way up.
Below, walls that must have been outside of a structure at one point.  There was no structure visible, and a disappointing lack of signage.
And here we are at the steps to the lighthouse!
I tried in vain to get a nice photo of a butterfly.  It's the fuzzy glop in the photos above and below.

Art Photos.

And here's the view we saw on the way back down the hill from the lighthouse.
We kept going around the island, and we stopped at this lookout point on the south-west coast.  This is the place you are supposed to come to see awesome sunsets.  We didn't have time for that since we were planning to get on a boat home that day, but we checked out the view a bit.


There was some large ship in the distance.

I have some more scattered photos from our trip up the west coast of the island.  I don't have much to say about them, but they're pretty.  (By the way, did you know that you can see the photos in a larger size if you click on them?  I didn't for the longest time, and it's my blog.)

And here we are at the port waiting for the last ferry of the day, which we were able to get on.

Lamay Island is a pretty nice weekend trip if you're in southern Taiwan and can get there in a reasonable amount of time.  Two days is plenty of time to see the island too, especially if you rent a scooter instead of a bicycle.
That's it!