About Me

My photo
Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On cloud 9 in Green Island

Imagine verdant mountain views overlooking clean aquamarine waters, open roads empty beside a rocky coral coast, just you  in a swim suit on a scooter free as a bird. On my facebook status update Iwrote upon my return, " Heaven on earth is pitching a tent beside a desolate coral cove, the crashing water amplified by surrounding cliff walls, next to a killer crackling fire." No one but me clicked the like button. A 3 day weekend in Green Island was beyond my expectations and I didn't even dive, which would in former times be the icing on the cake.

For my Green Island photo album click here.

It was fairly easy to get to from Tainan. All flights were well booked months in advance. Binh and I took an early 630am train to Taitung and arrived at 930am. A van was waiting for us and dropped us off to the ferry terminal for the notorious puke ferry to Nanliao. I gave motion sickness meds to Binh and Z and only Binh got sick. The end was a little rough with deep right to left swaying.

The train to Taitung cost 445NT and the return bus to Kaohsiung cost 443 for adult and 222NT for a kid (there were no train seats for the return trip). We got a package that included the ferry tickets both ways, scooter for all 3 days, the first night accommodation, breakfast and snorkeling for. So, here was the deal. Two days one night for adult is 2090NT and 1790 for kid. Three days two nights for adult is NT2990 and 2690 for kid. However, Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday weekend, it will add an $300 NT/person for this package. Thanks to Erica who took over communicating to Ula for us and buying us all the tickets which saved me and Binh a lunch break trip or 2 to the train station.

Here are the details of the package: Email Ula to make a reservation.  She speaks English. 東島 Travel agency ( www.eastisland.com.tw)
1. shuttle pick up from Taidong to Fugang Fisher Harbor (round trip)
2. boat tickets for 3 to Green island (round trip)
3. a hotel room for 3 (one night)
4. 2 scooters
5. 1 activity at the sea (3 choices, snorkeling, glass boat and salt water hot springs). We chose snorkeling and did the salt water hot springs on our own.
6. night tour with a tour guide (which we opted out of)
7. breakfast for 3
8. insurance for 3

The second night we camped outside the "ancient" ruins under a majestic cliff on a patch of beach clover steps from a romantic coral cove.The island's campsite was under construction and looked equally beautiful with wood platforms, trees and green overlooking the turquoise waters. The desolate rugged wildness was priceless. The night's stars were epic and we had a killer fire going.

Upon arrival to Nanliao we checked into our hotel which from the outside was less impressive and basically right on the ferry terminal. Inside our room was better, clean, AC, wood floors, etc. By then we were starving and pulled over to the first place that looked nice and had plenty of folk, but it was expensive and we spent 300NT each. Our blood sugar was low and our brains were not functioning, otherwise we would never have paid that much.

That first afternoon snorkeling was our schedules activity and after some exploring on our scooters post lunch, we were pretty beat and considering skipping the snorkeling for another day. We got the energy to suit up in wet suits and life vests (I have never snorkeled in a life vest before and they wouldn't let me go w/o one.) Z was adorable in her little wet suit and goggles. Her already big eyes were huge and it was comical, but I don't have any photos of that.

 Any other time, the collective Taiwanese tour group style of holiday would annoy the hell out of me and bring out my worst. But this time, I don't know if its Grace, progress or having a kid, but I was cool with it and just into watching Z and her first snorkel experience. About 25 tourists including us and 5 guides all left  as a swarm on our scooters to our reef site. We all sat in a huddle in a seaside puddle while the lead guide slowly explained in Mandarin how to put on goggles and use the snorkel. I swear a few years ago this would have agonized me to the point where I would rebelliously throw off my life vest and walk out alone to snorkel (I mean thats what we did every day on the Red Sea in Dahab under less than acute mental states of awareness.) I wasn't the least bothered and it all seemed to go well to the pace of a small 5 year old child. Z was pretty confident when we were going into the water. The whole reef was littered with other groups doing the same thing.

The water was choppy and walking out to the reef wasnt easy as if you werent careful you'd fall into deep holes. For the first few minutes we were all belly down and taking in the fish, but I was taking in Z taking in the fish. The lighting wasnt very impressive, there wasnt the colorful corals like Ive seen in underwater Edens like in Utila, but it wasnt dead like Ko Tao in Thailand. Our experience didnt last long, the waves got super big and some water went into her snorkel (I forgot to tell her how to clear it) and she panicked. A huge wave knocked us off our feer and smacked my mask off my face. There was no calming her, so she and I went back to a puddle that wasnt too deep and Binh stayed with the group to enjoy the fish (she said she saw 30 different kinds, but no turtles or rays). I tried to get to use her snorkel in the safety of our small natural, seaside pool, but she was done so we went back to the hotel and waited for Binh. That night was a postcard sunset and a well deserved beer.

The next day we drove around and looked for our campsite. I suggested the day before the ancient dwellings site and we drove down to check it out in detail. The stone abandoned houses were a little creepy, but walking further toward the cliff we found a green spot nestled between large bushes which acted like a wind breaker. We were concerned about the weather as the morning started with a shower. While we circumferenced the island we kept our eye open for other guest houses. The one I liked were those white cottages with a view, just outside Nanliao on the way to Dabaishe beach (http://www.sanasai.com.tw/). The clouds were speeding by so close to the ground, I didnt know if a front was coming or leaving.

After breakfast we headed to the Dabaisha beach, which was certainly white, not with soft sand, but small coral. The previous day's snorkeling scare hadnt dampened Z's enthusiasm for the water and surprisingly the sun and heat were not as brutal as it could of been. We returned for a cheap lunch, Z asleep in my arms in the restaurant. Around 4 we took our things from the hotel and set up our camp site. The wind was furious and it was difficult to set up the tent, I dont think I could of done it w/o Binh's help, in fact I know I couldnt. After the tent was secure we gathered a healthy heap of drift wood, ate our dinner and settled in for the night.

Sea shore hot springs

Where the hot springs meet the sea and I did some morning yoga

The plan was to wake up early and head to the hot springs for a shower and last minute de-stress before we headed back during lunch time to Taidong. My sleep wasnt good, Z kept on sliding down to our feet and it was hot. Binh accidentally broke the zipper on our net so we slept with the tent all zipped up. In the middle of the night I couldnt take the heat (neither could Z) and exposed us to the mosquitoes which had a field day. Anyway I woke at 5 and saw a local pass by the beach wearing a wet suit and holding a spear and wow I almost followed him. We broke camp around 7 and drove 6 km up the road to Chaojih Hot Springs.

The incomparable salt water hot springs, one of 3 in the world, was the supreme way to end the trip. The springs were found and developed by the Japanese under their occupation. The hours of the springs was from 5am-2am. The facilities had changing rooms, showers, pools with water massage and different temperatures, pools outside under the sun and pools indoors. All overlooking the coral coastline with rugged mountains as far as the eye could see. What was the climax was walking down to the shore itself, right into the sea were 3 heated pools and a platform with steps into the sea, reef fish swimming around us. Binh and Z frolicked together and I had enough moment to go through a first rate vinyasa flow right there, away from the people, in the sun beside this superlative setting. The hardness of sleeping on the ground, made my neck tight and after beating it with water spas and yoga, I was heaven bound.

Our return bus from Taidong to Kaohsiung didnt take as long as I expected, maybe because we slept most of the way. We took the fast train back to Tainan and returned around 530 where Erica picked us up. That night was the climax of the Dragon Boat festival and I was willing to take Z to see the last of the races, but she didnt want to go and frankly neither did I.

Package Details in Mandarin :東島 Travel agency (http://www.eastisland.com.tw/)
報價是以 2天1夜的,1位大人的費用是NT$2090元,12歲以下的小朋友的費用是NT$1790,
1.台東火車站—富岡來回接送 × 3位
2.台東—綠島來回船票 × 3位
3.東島渡假休閒中心住宿 3人房
4.125CC摩托車 × 2台
5.海上活動三選一:浮潛、玻璃船、朝日海底溫泉 × 3位
6.夜遊導覽,夜訪梅花鹿及夜間生態解說 × 3位
7.早餐 × 3客
8.旅遊保險(200萬旅責險+10萬醫療險) × 3位

所以總金額是2090元× 2大人+ 1790×1小孩+假日費300×3人= 6870(未加值行程)

1.海底溫泉劵 NT$ 180元 (已選其中三選一的浮潛或是觀光船,然後晚上想再泡溫時適用)
2.晚餐BBQ NT$250/大人、 NT$200元/小孩

No comments: