March 1, 2023

October 11, 2019

Keelung Train and Bus station

The new terminals of the Taiwan Railway Administration are slowly filling. There is still a lot of work going on in tearing down the old station walls and expanding the basic Kuo-Kuang bus station. In the future, most buses in the city should be located between both train terminals.

See the photo album of the most used South terminal here. Head for this one if your ship is at the East wharves. West 2-3-4 and beyond are served by the small but easier North terminal are here. There is a sloping ramp down to the track level. Its modest elevator is easier to spot.

This is a map displayed in both stations. Things have changed, and will keep doing so:

1. KuoKuang station moved to the right of the roundabout, see the photo. All their intercity buses leave from here. Other lines mentioned in my blog have stops along Gangxi street.

2. Keelung Station Visitor Information Center - such an official long description... moved to the right of the KuoKuang bus station on Gangxi street. It is in an old yellow brick building across from the OCAM museum.

This is where bus T99 tickets are sold and the tourist bus starts. Pick up maps of Keelung here.

Note that tourism info is often divided between a desk for Keelung and one for Taipei upon the arrival of your ship. The fact that the national Tourism Bureau does not ever cover both functions, AND cruise lines are still confusing Keelung and Taipei can make you wonder....

As the Hollywood-like sign on Huzi mountain says: You arrived in Keelung, a port for Taipei - a 50 minutes train ride or drive away from here.

May 22, 2019

Yehliu Geopark with Christine

Yehliu Geopark is on most travelers' list. The hoodoo rocks at Yehliu are bigger than other places along the Northeast coast, such as the Hoping island park in Keelung.
You can still walk around and almost touch the various rocks at Yehliu and take your picture with the Queen's Head.

March 16, 2018

Hong Kong your next port of call ?

Hong Kong (one day at sea away from Keelung) and Okinawa (some ships make the crossing overnight) are often the ports that you have either been to or are going to next.

My friends often ask me for advice on 'what to do' on their own for a few days in Hong Kong in conjunction with the cruise. Well, around the time of the establishment of the HK Special Administrative Region, we lived in Happy Valley, on a 32nd floor with a view of the racecourse of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. We still visit and have good friends in Hong Kong, and over the years we kept notes of where to go.

So here is a map to help you on the way, showing you popular places on Hong Kong island, Kowloon, the New Territories and even a quick hydrofoil trip to Macau's casinos. Even though your ship may be docked at Ocean terminal, do take the "Star" Ferry across to Hong Kong island from Kowloon to Central or Wanchai, or take one of the one hour harbor cruises. From the ferry at Central pier 5 take bus 15C to the Peak Tram terminus.

You can use the MTR metro, bus, harbor ferry and double-decker tram. Buy an Octopus card at the station or convenience store. There is a special tourist souvenir edition at HK$ 39 to keep, or a regular one with HK$ 50 deposit. You add value and can get a full refund at the last station. It is a smart card (just swipe it), so you can pay with it for many other things too.

Let me know if you're missing or have discovered anything?

March 14, 2018

A trip along the Coast - on your own

Keelung's train station's South & North Terminal area is a good place to start any tour on your own. From your ship, it's an interesting ten-minute walk along the waterfront. After passing by Starbucks and the local bus stops, cross the road and to the right, you'll find the "hop-on / hop-off" Tourist Bus T99 in front of the Keelung Tourist Information office which sells the tickets inside. Day tickets are NT 50 per route direction for a round trip.

So for NT 50-100, or NT150, you can travel all along the Keelung coast. Buy your ticket at the Keelung Visitor Information center at Gangxi street, where the bus originates. First go West between Keelung-Yehliu and then East from Keelung-Ruifang- and as far as Fulong beach, and back. The T99 bus (same number for both directions and routes) drops you off at the Maritime Plaza within sight of your ship, as do many of the regular buses.

Go West first ! to Yehliu, to see the Queen's head at the Geopark, which already opens at 08:30. Check out the Dawulun area stops for a hike. Then return to Keelung, have lunch in the night market; the food stalls are always open, 24/7 at Ren 3rd road.

If you want to see similar hoodoo rocks without the crowds, check out Keelung's Peace island (Heping Dao park) by Keelung bus 101.
When coming from the East wharves 2-3, start across from the "K" Hotel at Yi 1st road, the stop in front of the 7-Eleven.
If you're at East 4: first, cross the road toward the Evergreen hotel, continue along Xin 5th road to the bus stop at the intersection with Yi 1st road.
When coming from West 2-3-4, start at the Keelung City bus station, next to the OCAM museum. Just drop NT15 into the cash box, get off after some 20 minutes at the furthest point of the loop line at the stop called Heping Island Park. Except it is not in the park: still walk for 7 minutes.
Taxis are cheap, flag one down on the main roads near your ship and pay around NT 200/300 (by the meter) for 4 passengers. Starting fare NT 70.

Go East and travel along the coast to Ruifang train station. Switch to the Gold Fulong shuttle bus if you want to go much further along the coast to Fulong beach (a one hour trip each way if you have the time) and pass by Jiufen Old Street, Jinguashi Gold Museum, Golden Waterfall. Buy your  NT50 ticket at the OKmart convenience store next to the Ruifang train station square.

If Jiufen or Jinguashi is your destination then take local bus 788 from Ruifang which goes through Jiufen and ends in Jinguashi and passes by the Gold Museum. Most shops open by 11 am - so this is a good route for the afternoon until sunset. You can take the 788 bus all the way back from Jiufen to the Keelung night market stop, next and final stop is Maritime Plaza.

The cost for 'two sections' on a regular bus is NT 30, the route takes about 50 minutes. Higher frequency (15-20 minutes), but more stops on this local commuter alternative. It follows that you could take the 788 (same number) from Keelung via Ruifang to Jiufen, but you might have to stand part of the way on winding roads depending on the hour of travel for a local experience. The circular bus route starts at the foot of the old blue pedestrian bridge: Keelung station, Renxiang clinic stop - look for Family Mart. This will offer you a fair chance at a seat. For East wharves, the closest stop "City Government" is next to Starbucks on Yi 1st road.

On the plus side: the T99 bus will save you time as it only stops at our area's interesting tourist spots, which are otherwise hard to reach. I have marked them in orange (West), purple (East) and gold (To Fulong) on my map.

On the minus side, it is a chicken and egg story: current low demand versus low frequency (and the fact that the East route does not reach Jiufen anymore) - so you must time your visits, or fill the gap with a really local bus ride making many stops. In that case, you must always flag down the bus at the stop and pay the local fare of NT 15 per section. You can also travel by train from Keelung to Ruifang, but you must change trains at Badu. It's slightly faster with more seats if you catch the trains on time.

Download the 'Keelung Bus Timetable' app to your mobile device to help you keep an eye on the buses and places around you.

January 4, 2018

Taipei on your own

Keelung's port has a very unique location: where else can your ship get right into the small city center?

Here is some help with the next step: disembark and Go to Taipei on your own, or in German auf eigene faust.

The city is just 40-50 minutes away by train and bus, and almost all signs are in Chinese characters and English. Announcements are multilingual (Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, English) and there are many helpful and friendly locals to keep you on the right path.

Have a look at the map, the best pattern to follow is
  • Keelung station to "Taipei Main Station" is the furthest point West, by train or bus. The KuoKuang (Kingbus) bus station is at the East 1 door of the Taipei Main train station.
  • Visit Taipei by metro and city bus, or Hop-On Hop-Off (HoHo) sightseeing bus - working your way toward the modern Xinyi district in the East of the city and the
  • "Taipei City Hall Bus Transfer Station" is a 10-minute walk from Taipei 101, located on top of the Taipei City Hall metro station for your return to Keelung by intercity buses.
You'll find the Southbound trains to Taipei most convenient as all trains stop there going West  - and then South after Taipei, hence the direction's name. (choose Keelung from the drop-down menu). High capacity (8-12 carriages) and seats are always available (Keelung is the head station) when cruise passengers are heading to town almost at the same time. You can board at the South terminal or the smaller North terminal, see my photos.
The trains stop at a number of stations along the Keelung river, before going underground at Xike. The ride takes around 45 minutes. Pay NT41 (or NT64 for express trains with reserved seating) in local currency or even by credit card. You can buy and use an Easycard for all your transport.

The buses are recommended for the return. Their departures in the afternoon are frequent, spread out over time and not that busy. At the bus transfer station, you have them all at a few gates next to each other so you can take the first available bus back. All routes are almost nonstop to Keelung and as fast as a car. Pay by depositing the correct fare into the cash box (no change is given), or swipe an EasyCard when getting on and off.

You can flag down a taxi when you're not near a bus route or station, or ask any 7-Eleven store to order one for you. It is more convenient but the usual fare from Taipei Main station area is between NT 900-1000, all by GPS-operated meters, with seats for 4 or 5 passengers. You can pay in cash, or in some cases by credit card or EasyCard.

Study the map for the destinations you prefer. Leave town about 90 minutes before your intended return on board and you'll have time to spare for a half hour stroll in the Keelung night market - which is always open at Ren 3rd road for delicious local food. A ten-minute walk to/from the ship.

You can find the full map and explanations here and turn off the layers you don't need. Feedback and questions are always welcome!

February 17, 2017

Keelung's Yellow Duck adventure

Ever wondered why there are so many rubber ducks on sale in Keelung?

Here is your answer: for Chinese New Year 2014 some in city hall thought it was a great idea to have a giant rubber duck in port. Designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, these ducks had become popular in Southeast Asia. There already had been some trouble with strong winds in Kaohsiung, so they set about adjusting the flotation device to a locally made submerged barge. So far so good.

After one week the duck became quite smudged by the soot deposits of heavy fuel oil burned by ships - so they scrubbed down the duck. When the weather finally improved on December 31, 2013, my husband and I decided to come down from our mountain view of the port to go have a look for ourselves. Alas, on the taxi ride down to the Maritime Plaza the news spread quickly - the duck had split open and deflated. "Forgot to install a pressure vent" for the expanding air on a first sunny day... Sorry ! Bu Hao Yi Si as they love to say here when things go wrong, bowing profusely.

Life goes on: to spin out this grand theme, the city then installed a giant Yellow Chicken ashore. After all, the city's name was literally spelled "Chicken Cage" until the Qing empire changed the characters in 1875 to read "Prosperous Base"...

Looked too much like Hofman's borrowed bathtub idea ? No problem - mei wen ti: 沒問題 (Mei2 Wen4 Ti2) so we ended up with a "black chicken". Giant Inflatables are still a craze in Taiwan for any occasion, to make things ever so cute.