2009-05-04

New NE Coast Walkway / Bike Path Opens (新開的外木山到翡翠灣的自行車步道)


After a sabbatical of nearly a year, I'm back with more articles and thoughts on life along Taiwan's Northeast Coast and travels around the beautiful island of Taiwan.


I took the afternoon this past Sunday to collect thoughts; ponder the meaning of life, the universe and Everything and get some exercise during a spell of balmy spring weather. I frequently cycle the Keelung (基隆市) to Feicui (Jade or Green) Bay [翡翠灣] route, and my mettle has been oft tested ... and cycling direction occasionally diverted ... by cognizance of the challenges presented by the formidable hills straddling the Keelung City / Taipei County border - just ahead of the fishing town of Wanli (萬里鎮).


This time, cycling through Dawulun (大武崙) and then huffing up Provincial Route 2, which follows a coastal ridge overlooking Dawulun Fishing Port (大武崙漁港) & Waimushan Beach (外木山海水浴場), I was pleasantly surprised to find myself paralleling a new wood planked walkway installed to connect Dawulun Fishing Port (the walkway actually starts from the nearby pink [and now defunct] outdoor swimming complex-cum-seafood restaurant) to Wanli's fishing harbor, next to the wide sand beach along Feicui Bay. The walkway skirts the coast, avoiding hills and attendant steep grades. Very pleasant - with panoramic views of the rocky shoreline and Keelung Islet in the distance.



While this new walkway and bike path extends just 2.5km, when packaged together with the readily biked coastal roadways further westward and the 2-year old bike path that connects Waimushan Beach almost into Keelung City's busy downtown, cyclers can now navigate relatively easily a pleasantly undulating coastal route from downtown Keelung out as far as Yeliu (野柳), Jinshan (金山) and beyond.


This section of the coast is simply gorgeous, passing several sand beaches and majestic sandstone formations (including the 'Frozen Beach' outcropping just before Yeliu), as well as several 'human interest' points including pre-fab 'UFO' vacation bungalows (great pics here) just east of the Howard Plaza Green Bay Resort; northern Taiwan's main jump-point for hang gliding; trails leading up to the Japanese-era Dawulun Fort (大武崙砲臺) and several shallow, easy-to-access snorkeling / diving areas.

Departing from Keelung City, a cycling trip to Jinshan can be done in under 1.5 hours (one-way) taking advantage of the new coastal walkway. Plan on much more time, however, to enjoy all the out-of-the-way attractions this 25km stretch of coastline has to offer. If planning to walk, I recommend driving Route 2 to Waimushan Beach (map location here), where there is usually adequate parking space, and exploring the area from there.

Just a note ... To check out the deteriorating (albeit quite photogenically) Reagan-era fiberglass-reinforced 'UFO' vacation bungalows without paying for Howard Plaza Resort admission - cycle or walk through the narrow alley immediately to the left of the 7-11 on Route 2. The alley takes a few short jogs before opening onto the bungalow district and adjacent sand beach.




A Google Map rough-and-dirty guide to the approximate route from Keelung City out to Jinshan can be viewed by opening the link here.

- JM

13 comments:

MJ Klein said...

Jeff, welcome back. had you on my RSS reader since the beginning and i was pleasantly surprised to find a new article this evening. great work!

Jeff Miller 米傑富 said...

Hey, MJ. Thanks for the comment and kind words. Feels good to be back. Have much 'pent up' content and it feels good to be back into things. All the best.

騰仁 said...

Dear Jeff, It's so great to see your new article on your blog! I ever biked this path with my son Leo one month ago. A beautiful place to bike. Thank you so much for your share!

Jeff Miller 米傑富 said...

Tony,

Thanks for the comment. I think you recognize the CCRA 1919 bike in the final picture. I enjoyed cycling around Taiwan with you on that.

Todd said...

As MJ said, welcome back to blogging Jeff! Looks like a great route, one of these days I'll have to take my bike up north and enjoy it!

E.Michael Liu said...

Hi jeff and welcome back, had you on rss too and was delighted to see new post, i was in Taiwan last year to visit my Dad, i even had chance to see some of the places you talk about, it was an experience of a life time. hope you continue the good work, and i am looking forward to your next post.

Anonymous said...

Alex A. Simak
Ha! We have visited the same place with the same route at Saturday!
Tony Wang told me about you and your blog (I met him on the road number 5)! Also, do you know what's up with UFO's hotel? Why it is so ruin and misery?

Jeff Miller 米傑富 said...

Thanks to Todd and Michael Liu (my first international commenter when the Formosaguy blog first made its entree).

Alex, thanks for your comment. The UFO pre-fab beachfront dream vacation properties are the sullen remains of one of Taiwan's first forays into the realm of 'mass consumer vacations'. I read a contemporary study on the Internet some time ago discussing these pre-fabs in terms of Taiwan's burgeoning mass consumerism and need for vacation destinations. I think they came onto the market sometime in the early 80s, although I'm not so sure ... may have been slightly earlier. At the time, they were sold outright to individual buyers. The report mentioned that the beachfront property, however, is on a 50-year government lease, which gives these beauties another 25 years or so to go.

As to why they've fallen into disrepair I've no particular insight. However, I suspect these investments were cool to make at the time, but were underutilized (you know, Taiwanese in the 1980s still worked ALL the time) and a pain to maintain. Once things started leaking, things quickly went to hell in a handbasket. It is nice to see that a few of them are maintained and an even larger number continue to be actively used by their owners. At least half, however, clearly exist as mere empty (albeit photogenically empty) shells.

Steve said...

Hi Jeff, I found your blog when I arrived in Taiwan (Taoyuan) last April. Just when I was wondering when I'd get to read more posts, I read the article on page 4 in Tuesday's Taipei Times. Good to see you blogging again.

I visited beautiful Bitou Cape (鼻頭角) last October and was thinking about returning to the area during the Dragon Boat holiday coming up. Now I think I'll visit some of the places you mentioned in your latest post. I'm just a casual bike rider--do you have any suggestions about a route that can be enjoyed in an hour or two, round trip, especially where one could rent a bike? Thanks.

Jeff Miller 米傑富 said...

Steve,

Thanks for the comment.

Keelung and the Northeast Coast continue to remain behind the curve as far as recreational biking is concerned. While the coast does get much foot and cycle traffic over weekends, most people bring their own bikes. As far as I know, the City has no bike rental outlets. The closest place I am familiar with is the Giant shop in Jinshan [金山] (just around the corner from 85oC). That would be a good starting point for a nice 2-hour ride as it is adjacent to a pleasant beach trail and convenient to other attractions such as Yeliu and Feicui Bay with its UFO villas. However, getting there is a long-ish commute from Taipei.

Another option is to find a rental place in Xizhi (汐止) and bike from there to to Northeast Coast (did this route yesterday ... requires about 30mins on main roads, 45 mins if you try to connect using the current fragmented network of bike trails following the Keelung River).

If at all possible bring a bike in, by car or train. There are lots of 2-hour routes to do in and around Keelung. Train station-to-Waimushan [外木山] and back can be done very comfortably as could Train station-to-Peace Island (和平島). Both go through the city, which is a scenic experience all on its own. I'll put together a map of suggested short routes in the area and post at some point soon.

Steve said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'll try the Jinshan to Yeliu route. You mentioned a Giant bike shop in Jinshan, near 85°C. I've never been to Jinshan; is it on the smaller side? I mean, if I ask around for the Giant shop, do you think I'll be able to find it easily? I tried searching for the location online, but was unable to find it.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Jeff Miller 米傑富 said...

Steve,

Jinshan is a comfortably small town, so shouldn't have too much trouble finding the small Giant shop (offering bike rentals) there. It is located just off the first main intersection on the town's east side (just look for the 85oC Coffee Shop), and along the road (Minsheng) that most people take to the ocean and large Youth Activity Center there. Bike shop's address is 台北縣金山鄉民生路75號 (75 Minsheng Road, Jinshan). It is a family run operation and very friendly!

Steve said...

Thanks for taking the time to give the specifics. I'm looking forward to seeing this area.