We landed in Taiwan and checked into First Stop Backpacker Hostel (Jiufen branch) which was cosy and homely. Our hosts, Amy and Ann, specially made traditionally Taiwanese breakfast for us each morning and we had a lovely view from the Glass House. We also met other backpackers in our dorm and spent a good 2 hours chatting at night!
Do: Try a homestay or hostel that will enhance your trip.
However, the next day after our arrival the weather took a turn. Despite that, we were not deterred to change our hiking plans. So off we went! The skies were gloomy with dark grey clouds, strong winds and light drizzle, something we should have probably taken more seriously.
Don’t: Ignore weather conditions!
Our first stop was Long Dong (Dragon’s Cave) which is an easy hike suited for beginners. Locals that passed us said we might be able to spot some eagles that were out hunting for prey at the time too! As we were close to our destination the drizzle suddenly changed to pouring rain that by the time we got our raincoats out we were drenched. It did not help that I wore my new hiking boots that turned out to be slippery!
Do: Wear good footwear that has been broken into!
Battling wind and rain we soldiered on determined to see the majestic cave, and we did! The weather even improved upon our arrival as if to acknowledge our achievement! After taking a countless number of photos we set off to our next location which was when we realised we had no idea how to get down from where we are. We had been so concerned on how to arrive we never once considered getting down! After going along a path, slipping and falling down on wet stone staircase hoping we will not be lost in the middle of a forested area we came to the foot of the mountain.
Do: Thoroughly research the entire trail or risk getting stranded.
We headed in the direction of the town that we eyed in the far distance but changed our course when we spied the road our bus came from thinking we would just hop on at the next bus stop. Little did we know we had to walk a good 90 minutes to get to the next one! All this while walking on the side of the road next to massive trucks and cars going at extremely high speeds and wishing we will not be run over in a foreign land as the rain makes its return.
Don’t: Walk on side of roads unless you have absolutely no choice, we truly feared for our lives!
After finding the bus stop we continued with our plan to hit up all the stops which included Nanya, Ying Yang Sea and Golden Waterfall. Nanya was beautiful with its naturally eroded rock formations.
As we headed to Ying Yang Sea the sun quickly disappeared and the night was soon to take over. Sadly, due to the rain and strong winds we could hardly see the difference in colour between the yellow waters from the mining area mixed with the open blue sea. By the time we reached the Golden Waterfall the sun had set with us relying on our phones for some source of light to view it. After taking it in we checked on our bus only to find the next one will only arrive 40 minutes later! Oh, how we stood in the pouring rain freezing with no shelter in sight sounds funny now looking back.