Sunday, April 17, 2016

How to go to Turtle Island (龜山島) - Dolphin Watching Tour - Wushih Harbor (烏石港) [Taiwan Day 959: The Turtle That Cannot Swim - April 16, 2016]


When God created the world He made sure that every creature on this world will have something to do.  The birds fly in the air, the fishes swim in the ocean and the animals walk on land.  He even entrusted the humans to take care of the paradise that the created. Everything seems to be perfect except for one turtle which remained stationary in the Pacific Ocean for a very long time.

I don't know what happened to this turtle and why it chose to stay beside the island of Taiwan.  It might be the mighty guardian of Formosa that was put in a deep slumber.  It just stays there in the ocean listening to every heartbeat of the Taiwanese.   It looks lifeless but beneath its waters is an indication that you cannot underestimate its power.

My fascination to this creature started in Taiwan Day 308 (Yilandia) when I was still standing on the observation deck of the Lanyang Museum.  It was 10 kilometers away from the island of Taiwan and all I could do was to look it from afar and grabbed it in the air using my hand.  The turtle had been calling me be since then until I decided that on this day in I will visit the famous Turtle Island.






Our ticket for the Turtle Island and dolphin watching tour.  We were booked for the 10:30am tour.  Just call the Wushih Harbor Environmental Education Center at 978-9078 for more information about the boat schedules.

Travel Buddy Kiran talking to the staff of the Wushih Harbor Environmental  Education Center

Travel Buddy Kiran joined me in my adventure and he was also very excited about this trip.  At Taipei, we boarded Bus 1877 at Jingmao Rd. in Nangang Exhibition Center and paid the bus ticket worth NTD 90.  We alighted at the final stop where we looked for the Wushih Harbor Environmental Education Center to present our passports/ARC and buy tickets for landing to the island plus the dolphin-watching trip.   The cost of the combo tour was NTD 1,500 and it was a 4-hour trip in the Pacific Ocean.






Leaving Wushih Harbor





















Approaching the harbor at the Turtle's Tail

We were accompanied by an English-speaking staff to the harbor where we joined local visitors who were sponsored for a Turtle Island tour by their employer.  We entered the boat and within a few seconds it became full of passengers with life vest fastened tightly.  As the ferry boat moves away from the harbor, the calm ocean suddenly becomes wild as big waves rocked our boat.  I hold onto the metal railings as I capture every moment of getting near to the creature that captured my imagination.  

Approaching the island











Turtle Island Visitor Center




Guishan Island Elementary School

Turtle Island like any turtle has a head and a tail. The head is the smaller mountain or rock formation which resembles the head of the animal as seen from a distance while the tail is a rocky shoreline lacking the fine grains of sand and installed with military radars.  Our boat landed on the tail where the island's visitor center can be found as well as old pebble houses.   There used to be people that lived here but they were relocated to the island of Taiwan when the island was declared to become a military base.  The Guishan Elementary School which was built during the Japanese colonization period of Taiwan also stands on the island up to now. 




Gonglan Temple



Turtle's Tail Lake




Visitors will have to make a little hike to reach a military outpost.



Kiran goes down





At the 800-meter long tunnel




The Gonglan Temple was an eye-catching structure and beside it was a big brackish lake where a statue of the goddess Guanyin stands on the other side.  The visitors walked along the cemented pathway until an 800-meter long tunnel surprised everyone. There was a sudden drop in the temperature inside and at its end was a cannon that points to the Pacific Ocean.  Any enemy who attempts to come from the east coast of Taiwan will be obliterated with this powerful cannon.  The tunnel also has big rooms and secondary passageways which were off limits to the visitors.  















And were back at the Turtle Island Visitor Center






We continued the trail along the lake until we met the large statue of Guanyin.  A dragon was beside the goddess and I took the opportunity to have photo with the godly statues.  There was nothing much to see on the Turtle's Tail at this point so we returned to the Visitor Center where everyone was waiting.  Our guide told us that we are going to ride the ferry boat again but this time we would sail around the island and look for free swimming dolphins.



Stalactites of Eyeglass Caves






Seeing the picturesque Turtle Island while inside the ferry boat was one of best moments of my life in Taiwan.  As big waves rocked our boat, the turtle had finally come out of its shell to show its other secrets. It looks lifeless but beneath its waters are fumaroles emitting sulfuric gasses.  These gasses emerge as bubbles from the ocean floor and creates a light blue color.  Our ferry boat had passed by this light blue waters and I immediately recognized the familiar smell of rotten eggs.   


looking for dolphins

The dolphins were really fast!

The shell of Turtle Island have rocky cliffs but look closely and you will see large rectangular windows carved from it. I remembered the restricted secondary tunnels and the cannon that was pointed towards the ocean.  They must be the answers to my questions on why there were large windows on the cliffs.  Our boat suddenly came to a stop when friends of the turtle had finally arrived.  Free-swimming dolphins have been spotted and visitors shouted with joy as they saw them jumping in the air.  Unfortunately, they moved very fast and it took two more attempts for the captain to look again for the dolphins.  

Time go back home at 2:30pm

time to go home

approaching Wushih Harbor

Arriving at Wushih Harbor

We were almost there at Wushih Harbor.

Aside from the dolphins, whales also come to swim near the waters of Turtle Island.  The giant mammals had been visiting their friend for thousands of years and were always trying to appease it.  They knew that the volcanic island had erupted many times in the last 7,000 years and they don't want that to happen again.  They dive to the deep waters of Turtle Island along with the many wonders of the sea to make it remember that it is still a normal turtle and not just a mere island.  


Who knows that someday Turtle Island might become free of the magical spell that was cast upon it?  It has the heart of a turtle and I felt it throughout the entire trip but for now it has to remain in the Pacific Ocean. It will just stay there and float because it is the turtle that cannot swim.

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