I took an early morning train to the small town of Gongliao (貢寮) in Taipei County. Not far from the town is the beginning of the Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道). This trail was once an important transport route connecting Taipei with Yilan. These days it is a pleasant outing with some great views of Taiwan’s spectacular northeast coast.
The trail actually starts about a kilometre from Gongliao. I passed by this nice river while walking along the road; the town is in the background. The area is very rural with little development although the fourth nuclear power plant is under construction not far from here (more about that later).
The trail has several rocks which are carved with Chinese characters. The first one was “Boldly quell the wild mists” (雄鎮蠻煙) which has the distinction of being the largest stone inscription in Taiwan.
The second one was the Tiger Rock. It looked more like a sheep (羊) than a tiger (虎) to my eye! It is also related to the weather. The following text is from the nearby sign:
When Taiwan Regional Commander Liu Ming-deng arrived at the Caoling Pass during an inspection tour of northern Taiwan in 1867, he was buffetted by such strong wind and thick fog that he could not tell his directions. In accordance with the ancient Chinese saying “Clouds obey the dragon, wind obeys the tiger” (雲從龍﹐風從虎) he inscribed the Chinese character for “tiger” to suppress the wind. Legend has it that Liu Ming-deng loved to write the character for tiger, and that his calligraphy indicated differences of gender. The “tiger” inscription written by him in the Bo’ai Road military compound in Taipei is male, while the “tiger” on this stone is female.
Maybe that explains why I couldn’t read it correctly.
Shortly after the Tiger Rock the trail goes through a pass in the mountains. This view is from above the pass. It is very windswept, but the views are gorgeous. You can see the sea in two directions, looking back down the pass to Fulong (福隆) and to Dali (大里) on the other side.
The trail actually splits in two directions at the pass. One way follows the ridge line to the south and the other descends down to the coast at Dali.
This is the view along the coast from Dali. I caught a train from Dali to Fulong.
There were a few surfers out at Fulong Beach but the waves were very small. There is a large and impressive temple that stands guard at the eastern end of the beach.
It was a few years since I had last been to Fulong. The major change I noticed was the sight of the fourth nuclear power plant under construction not far away at the western end of the beach. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo, but you can see the construction activity. A recent article in the Taipei Times reports that the second nuclear reactor has been installed.