Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yilan (宜蘭) - Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館) - Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市) [Taiwan Day 308: Yilandia - July 5, 2014]



Whenever I go to see a place in Taiwan, I always follow certain travel rules and one of the rules is to have a 'travel of the month' that will feature a well known tourist spot in Taiwan. How about the other weeks in a month? I just go to places which are not so popular but with still great stories to share and tell. Another rule is that 'there should be no repetition of a travel adventure' and since I went to museum in Taiwan Day 302 going again to a museum in my next travel adventure is a culpable violation of my travel rules. I need variety in every episode of my Taiwan Day Adventures.

I picked Yílán(宜蘭)[Filipino: I-lan] as my 'travel of the month' for July and my highlight for my trip was a visit to the Lanyang Museum. I had also included a food trip Luodong Night Market. A visit to a night market is usually an expensive travel adventure but since my last visit to a night market was in Keelung in Taiwan Day 147 (Fowl Play) it was justifiable for another night market experience.

Yilan is a province in Northern Taiwan. It is bounded by Central Mountains and the Snow Mountain  Range and it faces the Pacific Ocean. It will be my first time to visit this place and I was so excited. Everything was ready and I have with me my printed travel plan and based on it I should take Bus 1877 in Nangang Exhibition Center but due to haste in boarding the bus I chose the wrong bus and took Bus 1878 instead.



at Taiwan Highway No. 5

My bus entered a tunnel




Another tunnel in Highway No. 5

entering Hsuehshan Tunnel

I was already inside the bus when I realized that I took the wrong bus. I just saw outside the windows that my Bus 1878 is following Bus 1877. “What the..!”, I was still calm since I knew that Bus 1878 will still take me to Yilan it's just that the final stop will not be in Lanyang Museum but in Yilan Transfer Station. Both buses went to Yilan via National Highway No. 5 which was a highway built with a 13 kilometre road tunnel called the Hsuehshan Tunnel. It is currently the fifth longest road tunnel in the world and it took Taiwan around 15 years to finish the tunnel. The Bus 1878 ride was really an adventure of my life!

first glimpse of Yilan after coming out of Hsuehshan Tunnel


I can see Turtle from Highway No. 5


still Turtle Island

the plains of Yilan

Turtle Island and the view of the Snow Mountain Range from my bus

When the bus went out of the tunnel I was awed by the great plains of Yilan and as the bus passes by the highway I saw the Turtle Island in the Pacific Ocean. It was very huge and it is the only active volcano in Taiwan. The Yilan plain was created by the tectonic movement of the Philippine plate and Eurasian plate causing the island of the Taiwan to crumple in the middle forming the Central Mountain Range and the Snow Mountain Range leaving a triangular plain facing the Pacific Ocean.
 

Yilan to Toucheng train ticket 





a local train

When Bus 1878 came to a stop in Yilan Transfer Station, I talked to the driver in English and he talked to me in Chinese. Actually, we really don’t understand each other! I was also showing him my printed travel plan with a screenshot of the Google map of Yilan bearing some Chinese names of train stations. I asked him where is the nearest 'chu-chu' train station and he pointed me where it is. At that point I just learned that the Yilan Transfer Station is a major transport hub since you can transfer to the Yilan train station from a bus and vice versa. I made a short walk to Yilan Station and then bought a ticket going to Tóuchéng (頭城) [Filipino: tow-chang] Station since it was the nearest station to Lanyang Museum. I requested the staff to write the train number but the staff just wrote the time of departure of the train.
 


From Toucheng Station I walked for about 20 minutes to Lanyang Museum under the scorching heat of the sun. The temperature that afternoon was 34 degrees Celsius. I used my umbrella while walking until I found my destination, a tilted large building. The museum boasts its 'cuesta' rock formation which is usually found in Northern Taiwan. It looks like a large triangular building with its apex pointing to Turtle Island in the Pacific Ocean.
 

Lanyang Museum


There are lockers inside the museum to keep your stuff.
Turtle Island can be seen from the upper floors of Lanyang Museum
a model of Yilan museum












a mosaic of Yilan province












Of all the museums that I visited in Taiwan, the Lanyang Museum has the most beautiful building inside and out. I also love the collections there and I even have a photo of a beetle in my hand which was protected in glass casing. I went to Lanyang Museum because I want to learn more about Yilan just like when I went to the Discovery Center of Taipei in Taiwan Day 84 (Discoveries) where I learned many things about Taipei. I only paid 50 NTD for the ticket since I am a student here in Taiwan.
 

I wanted to go the shoreline to have a photo with the Turtle Island as the background but I just decided to go directly to Jiāoxī (礁溪) [Filipino: jiao-shi] Station to board a train going to Luodong. I found a bus stop near Wushi Harbour Center and I asked a young Taiwanese guy in English if the Bus 131 he is waiting for is going to Jiaoxi Station. He was with another older Taiwanese guy and that guy talked to me in choppy English but I can still understand what he was saying. He was just puzzled why I was in Yilan travelling alone. I just told him that I travel every week and I lived in Nangang.
 

The ride for Bus 131 was free and it took us to Jiaoxi Station and from there I bought a ticket going to Luódōng (羅東) [Filipino: lu-dung ]Station. I was given a ticket and the lady wrote the departure time of my train. Out of stupidity I was standing on the wrong platform and was even taking a video of a train departing on the platform I was standing on. The train I was supposed to board was about to leave and was on the other platform. The train staff yelled at each other to stop the train from leaving and it waited for me. I ran immediately to the underpass to go to the other platform. When I boarded the train it left immediately.
 

When I was inside I saw the two Taiwanese guys I was with in Bus 131. The older guy who is talkative told me that the travel time to Luodong Station is approximately 20 minutes. He told me that he doesn't know if there is a bus going back to Taipei to Luodong and he was worried if I can back to Taipei that night. I just showed him my travel plan and he reminded me of the last train in Luodong Station going to Nangang Station in Taipei. The two guys left the train in Yilan Station and I was left alone again.
 





When I arrived in Luodong Town, I only have 1 hour and 30 minutes to roam and find their famous night market. While walking away from the Luodong Station, I asked a Taiwanese guy and showed him my printed English Google map near the Luodong Station. He told me that he was also looking for the night market and he also came from Taipei. He is also with his young kid. I was so happy since at moment since another person will help me find my destination. He was a fat short guy and it was like Buddha went down to Earth to help me in my travel adventure. He was able to talk to a Taiwanese woman and because of that we were able to find the famous Luodong Night Market. We then said goodbye to each other. Buddha was really helpful!
 






















Luodong Night Market was teeming with people and since July is a summer month in Taiwan it was very hot. I just bought food which I haven't eaten in my past travel adventures. There was this interesting sandwich that people are lining for and I bought one for myself. I also bought some chicken which was costly and some deliciously looking tofu on a stick. For my drinks, I was intrigued to buy a 'frog eggs' drink. I am not sure if it was really the real thing but the liquid was viscous and with lots of 'sago'.
 






I hurriedly walked back to Luodong Station and the lady in the counter was having difficulty with how I speak 'Nangang' but she gave me the right train ticket. I ate the chicken and the tofu stick while waiting for my train in the platform and then drank the 'frog eggs'. I just reserved the sandwich for my breakfast next morning. The train going to Nangang arrived and it was my first 'chu-chu' train trip traversing the northeast coastline of Taiwan for more than two hours.

A lot of things happened in my Yilan trip and I considered this as my greatest adventure since Taiwan Day 100 (“Happy 100 Days!!!”). Taking the wrong bus, passing through the Hsuehshan Tunnel, Taiwanese people helping me (the Bus 1878 driver, the guys in Bus 131, the train staff in Jiaoxi Station and Buddha), the Lanyang Museum, the delicious food in Luodong Night Market and taking the Yilan train line for a northeast coast trip back to Nangang. All of these things happened in a not so far away place from Taipei, in the island of Taiwan, in this place that I will call Yilandia.
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