Monday, October 20, 2014

Green Island: Lighthouse!/緑島:まずは灯台を見に/綠島:我是燈塔宅男

After coming back from Japan, it was only another couple of weeks until there was another chance to go on a trip.  October 10th is a national holiday in Taiwan, and this year it fell on a Friday, so I took advantage of the three-day weekend to go on a trip to Green Island.

Actually, the original plan was to go to Orchid Island, but thanks to a typhoon that passed east of Taiwan on its way up to Japan, all the boats to Orchid Island got cancelled.  We were somehow able to get a ticket for the Green Island ferry the day before actually leaving, and we even managed to find a place to stay while waiting in the ferry terminal just before actually going to the island.  It was a stroke of luck really, because everyone and his brother in Taiwan used this three-day weekend to travel, and Green Island is a fairly popular tourist location, so we were half-expecting to not be able to find a place to stay when we got there.

Green Island is put down by some people for being too "touristy" and developed, and while this is true when compared to some other places one could go in Taiwan, I was still impressed with the island myself.  It is surrounded by beautiful ocean filled with coral, it has beautiful mountains, it has historically significant buildings/ruins; and nothing is more than a short drive away from anything else.  Green Island doesn't necessarily have anything that you wouldn't find on other islands around Taiwan (including the Ryukyu islands), but in the case of Green Island, all of these features are concentrated on one small island that is easy to get around.  And despite how crowded and overdeveloped the town areas on the island are, if you really want to get away from other people, you just have to go to some part of the island that's not been designated on the maps as a "place to go", and you'll find yourself totally alone except maybe for some goats.






As for the trip itself, the first step was to take a train around the southern tip of Taiwan from Tainan to Taitung.  Here are a couple of photos from the ride.  The trains here--and all along Taiwan's east coast--feature absolutely stunning views of both steep mountains and rocky sea coasts.



You can already see how big the waves are.  The typhoon didn't hit us this time, but it passed by our east side.  We've already rounded the bottom of the island and are heading up the east coast at this point, so the sea was definitely showing the effects of the typhoon.



I spent the ferry ride over being seasick (and there was no outside deck on the boat we were on) so I didn't take any pictures of the ride over.  Here's the view from the place we stayed, which was right in the main town area near the island's main port.



The island now has a 7-11 as of this year.  It's officially jumped the shark.
The first thing we did was ride out to check out the island's lighthouse on the northwest coast, near the airport.




I love these leaves.  This plant, whatever it is, is really common along sea coasts in Taiwan and the Ryukyu islands.


This beach was protected by coral reefs, so despite the huge waves from the passing typhoon, people were still able to swim here.



A Screw Pine.  There were a lot of these all over the island.  They grow well on sea coasts.


I'll admit it.  I'm a little obsessed with lighthouses.  I can't help but visit them when I'm in an area with one.



A sundial.  It was accurate too.  I checked.


This is the beach from just before.  You can see here how all of the waves break against the coral and don't actually come into the area where people are swimming.



There was this bunker structure next to the lighthouse that looked out over the sea.



There's still a lot more to come.  Stay tuned!

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