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[Top Ten Taiwan Tour] Keelung: Seaport City of Deep Character (II)

August 9, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Historic Keelung
On the grassy headland above Heping Island’s Geo Park stand the atmospheric and little-visited ruins ofSheliao East Fort, one of a series of fortifications built to defend Keelung by Liu Ming-Chuan, the first governor of the newly created province of Taiwan, following the Sino-French War of 1884-85.pic_298_5

About midway between Keelung Railway Station and Heping Island(get off bus 101 at Haimen Tianxian bus stop), Ershawan Fort, which is also known as Haimen Tianxian, is considered the most important of Keelung’s historic fortifications, since it’s one of the few Chinese-built Qing Dynasty fortifications still extant in Taiwan. The fort was established to protect against British attack during the First Opium War in 1841, but in August 1884, at the beginning of the Sino-French War, it was partially destroyed-and later repaired.

Back in the city center, a short, steep walk up a narrow road climbing the steep hillside behind the harbor leads to Shiqiuling Fort, which commands a panoramic view over Keelung’s magnificent harbor. Piercing right through the hill on which the fort sits, the 235-meter-long Shiqiuling Tunnel was the first railing tunnel built in China, taking a punishing 30 months to create between 1888 and 1890.

Finally, no visit to historic Keelung is complete without a look at one of its most unique sights, the Fairy Cave, an extraordinary cave temple in a natural cavern formed by erosion in the sandstone cliffs west of the harbor. Behind the main temple located at the cliff base, a pair of narrow fissures slice deep into the rock, with an atmospheric shrine chamber at the end of each, filled with clouds of drifting incense.

Badouzi is the easternmost suburb of Keelung, which can be reached with a short hop on bus 103 from the city bus terminus. It has long been famous for its Ghost Month festivities on the night of the 14th day of the 7th lunar month, when, at just before midnight on the night of the full moon, elaborate lanterns are floated out onto the sea and set alight. These days, however, Badouzi is equally noted as the location of the impressive newMuseum of Marine Science and Technology, which opened in January this year.

The museum is partially housed in one of Keelung’s historic buildings , a power-station edifice built in the late 1930s during the Japanese colonial period(1895-1945). Its mission is to showcase marine science, technology, ecology, culture, and man’s relationship with the ocean. The main exhibition building consists of nine exhibition halls furnished with an array of vivid interactive exhibits(with full English translations), and in the former power station’s cavernous boiler room is the Deep Sea Theater, in which a dive into the depths of the Big Blue is re-created through images, lighting, and sound effects. Housed in a modern, specially-designed building nearby, Taiwan’s largest IMAX theater also screens videos on related subjects, such as marine science and conservation.

The museum can be conveniently reached not only from downtown of Ruifang. Trains on the Shen’ao Branch Line take travelers from Ruifang, an important hub for tourists visiting Jiufen and Jinguashi, right to the doorsteps of the museum.

Aside from this new kid on the block, there’s plenty more to keep you occupied while at Badouzi. A short walk from the museum, the grassy, cliff-bound headland above the district, including Wangyou Valley, is crisscrossed with attractive trails offering fabulous sea views, while a kilometer to the west is Bisha Fishing Harbor, which has an excellent fish market with a cluster of small harbor-side restaurants where visitors can chow down on some of the freshest, tastiest seafood to be found anywhere, at prices far cheaper than in Taipei.

Miaokou Night Market
After a day’s wandering around the city, conclude a Keelung –day trip with a visit to the famous Miaokou Night Market, a 10-minute walk east from the train station. The street on either side of little Dianji Temple is lines with stalls selling delicious xiaochi(snack; lit. “Small eat”) from noon to late in the evening.

The range of gastronomic goodies is enormous, and choosing just what to try can be a bit of a challenge, but don’t leave without trying a cup of the famous bubble ice, which comes in a range of fruity flavors, whipped up to order-the perfect way to end a summer’s day in Taiwan’s great northern port city of Keelung.

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