On this short trip, we visited a few places in Keelung and had lunch at a dubious restaurant. 🙂
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Music: “The Natives Are Restless” by Don Tiki (
Baimiwong Fort 白米甕炮臺
Heping Island Park 和平島公園
Keelung Harbor 基隆港
Wangyou Valley 望幽谷
Travel in Taiwan (2015, 7/8)
The sun is blazing as we arrive at a trail in eastern Keelung that will take us down a hill into Wangyou Valley – a rare sight in what is known as Taiwan’s rainy city. Slowly we descend the steps. Coastal plants cover the edges of the trail, their leaves thick and waxy to retain moisture in the salty sea air. Purple-headed thistles spring up among other wildflowers. White trumpet-nosed blooms cling to the steep cliffs. Bulbuls, white-eyes, babblers, and thrushes duck and weave among the dense thickets. Serpent eagles and goshawks soar above a coast that has been ravaged year after year, century after century by typhoons, monsoon rains, and crashing waves.
Peppered, too, amongst the hills are remnants of Keelung’s military past: pillbox guard posts and fortified lookouts peep from the undergrowth, fighting a losing battle against Mother Nature. After climbing to the top of one of the valley’s several peaks, we see the small fishing harbor of Badouzi on the left beyond, while ahead of us stretches the wide expanse of the East China Sea.
To the northwest of Wangyou Valley lies Heping Island. In 1626, the Spanish arrived on this island, declared it Spanish territory, and built a fortification – Fort San Salvador – on the southwestern side. The fort and any traces of the Spanish on Heping Island have, unfortunately, been largely lost to history, but a small snapshot of the island’s colonial years can be seen in the geo park on its northern side. Much like at nearby Yeliu (with its famous Queen’s Head Rock), the main attractions in the park are the divertingly shaped sandstone rocks along the sea’s edge.
Follow the path around the park and you’ll come across the Cave of Foreign Words, a 20-meter-long natural tunnel that pierces a small headland near the eastern edge of the park. Inside the cave there is, purportedly, some 17th-century graffiti left by the Dutch, who took over Fort San Salvador in the 1640s.
One of several old fortifications perched upon the hilltops around Keelung, Baimiweng commands a spectacular view of both the harbor and the sea. The small, winding lane that leads to the fort is a bit difficult to find, even for Keelungers, says Wang, who, with a painter’s romantic eye, goes on to compare the challenging ascent up the narrow, twisting road to the journey up to the citadel of Évora Monte in Portugal. Reaching the fortifications, you’re confronted with a spectacular vista and four large semi-circular gun emplacements, each of which was capable in its time of hosting a 5.65-meter-long cannon able to fire a steel shell 8.8 kilometers at enemy battleships. Though the current fortifications date back only to the early 1900s, Wang writes that fortifications have been built on this location since the 17th-century colonial conflicts between the Spanish and the Dutch, a fact attested by the fort’s alternate name, Holland Castle. “From here the night view of the harbor is breathtaking,” Wang writes, “and on the other side, far out to sea, you can see freighters slowly entering the harbor, while further away still you can see the sun setting.”
Central Keelung & Harbor
As a busy, working container port, central Keelung is a churning organism of cranes and freight containers, trundling cargo ships and busy-bee tugboats. The narrow streets and alleys that creep out from the narrow central harbor can become, especially on weekends, breathtakingly crowded – a situation abetted by the fact that the nearby Miaokou Night Market is one of the most famous in Taiwan.
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