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.

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.

December 2, 2015

Night image of Taiwan

Such a remarkable picture from the International Space Station ! On a cruise and rounding Fuguei cape - the northernmost point on the island, you'll see the hundreds of squid fishing boats with their very bright lights. Using their GPS they stay clear of the shipping lanes. Keelung is on the North coast in the center, Kaohsiung on the left in the South.

Oblique Night Image of Taiwan and China

April 24, 2013

Caledonian Sky, Keelung 18th April 2013

From our apartment on the hills, this ship looked so small compared to the container vessels coming into port all day. So we took a closer look at the Caledonian Sky just before departure at 8 pm.

Finally a ship that doesn't dwarf our Harbor Bureau... Just over 100 British and German passengers were on board, enjoying a break in the rainy weather we've had for most of this month. Hope to see more of such specialty cruise ships of Noble Caledonia !

April 8, 2013

Ocean Dream

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On a typical Keelung rainy day - on December 18, 2012 it looked as if a Costa ship had changed colors...  was I dreaming ? Not quite: the funnel of the 'Ocean Dream' was a 2001 retrofit of the original 'Tropicale' built in 1981 for Carnival cruise lines, which featured their red-white-blue-whale-tail like funnel.

It was the first new cruise ship built, setting a trend at the time. It still has the looks, but is missing the now so familiar private balconies, and since the launch ships have grown so much in size. Operated with a yellow funnel until 2005 by Costa.

Now the former cruise ship sails on trips around the world for Peace Boat, an international non-government organisation based in Japan. Previous visits of this group were by the 'Oceanic' in May 2012, and much earlier by the 'Topaz'. Both vessels have been scrapped since. Hope to see this historic ship again !

March 19, 2013

Nautica in Keelung 24+25 February 2013

Oceania's "Nautica" is a consistent visitor to Keelung from the days cruising to Taiwan started to be popular. On many itineraries this ship offers you an overnight stay to enjoy the night views from Taipei 101 and a stroll through our locally famous Keelung "Miaoko" night market around the temple, just a short walk away from the cruise terminal. Many passengers on board are repeat visitors, and this way I've made a lot of friends. Here is my impression of the first of two visits in 2013. You can see the outline of Yehliu peninsula in the background...

March 8, 2013

Seven Seas Voyager

Sometimes the Keelung port looks like a Chinese painting in the early morning mist. Woke up to the view of the Seven Seas Voyager entering the harbor on March 1st 2013 at 7 am. A nice all balcony ship glistering in the sun... Welcome back !
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