Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 55 - Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan

Keelong Harbour
Our ship arrived in Taiwan at 8am this morning.  I was out on the balcony taking video of the harbor, as usual.  After breakfast, everyone on the ship had to go through immigration, regardless of whether they planned to go ashore.  They processed all the people with morning tours first, then called everyone else by deck. Our tour wasn't scheduled to leave until this afternoon, so we went down when they called for deck 7.  It was a simple process - we picked up our passports and a copy of our passport photo page, signed an immigration form that the ship's crew already had filled out for us, and brought these to an immigration agent in the terminal.  She checked our passports and stamped the passport and copy.  They we handed the passports back to the ship crew member and kept the copy to show as we get off and on the ship later.    Each port has it's own process. 

Lion Dance in Keelung Port, Taiwan
People with morning tours got to see a "lion dance" show as they exited the terminal.  Since we weren't going out yet, we watched a little of it from the deck.  It was similar to the dance I saw in Vietnam.

Happy Buddha
We left on our tour about 1:30 pm with a very amusing guide, Aidan.  He had a little trouble translating numbers and we had fun helping him remember the right English words for the stories he told, but he was a good guide.  The tour went to 2 sites, Zongzheng Park and Yeliu Geopark.

Zongzheng Park is a combination Buddhist temple and mini amusement park.  The entrance is marked by a large Happy Buddha.  I was told the small figures on the Buddha represent the priests who serve him.

Above and behind the Buddha is the temple. On the other side of the temple is a white 25 meter high statue of the Goddess of Mercy.   Buddhists call her Guanyin.  This goddess is found protecting every waterway in Asia.  She is the one who looks out for fishermen.

Buddhist Lady of Mercy, Keelung Harbor

The odd thing about this park was that there were children driving kiddy-cars  around the Lady's statue.  It appeared that they rented them there.   There were also several "statues" that appeared to be cartoon characters catering to children.

Mushroom Formations

After leaving the temple we drove to Yeliu Park.  This is a wonderful cape on Taiwan Island that has been transformed by wind and water into fantastic rock formations.  The whole cape is about 1,700 meters long, but we did not walk the entire distance.  We had an hour and a half to walk around the nearest formations. 
Ray & I next to the "Queen's Head"

Fairy Slipper formation

"Lobster" rock
The tour was rated difficult because of all the walking over uneven surfaces, so we were unsure how we'd do.   It was worth the effort.  We were really tired out by the time we got back to the ship, but we did OK.   We will be staying in port tonight and have an easier tour tomorrow morning.

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