Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Quick trip to the very green Green Island (Lu Dao)

My New Year's Eve included a trip to the local park where there were fireworks, tons of people, and a pretty big Taiwanese pop/rap concert starring what seemed to be the Taiwanese versions of Ricky Martin and Ja Rule (the real Ja was actually headlining his own show at a club in Taipei...see, I told you it's easy to hold celebrity status in Taiwan). Of course I got lost in the sea of people with my friend Julia and finding our other friends before midnight was a bit of a lost cause when the only landmark to describe our location was, "...we're right by the group of Taiwanese people." And so there we were as the clock struck 2010:

Here is a little video clip of the rap group at the concert that I took (see if you can catch the two badass English lines):

Not yet bright and early we woke up at 5am for our trip to Green Island (a small island off the SE coast of Taiwan). 40 minute bus to Taipei, 6 hour train to Taitung (no seats so we rushed to the most comfy floor spots which don't exist), and 1 hour ferry to Green Island that is notorious for making even the most settled of stomachs lose their sh*t. If you don't believe me, take it from trusty old Lonely Planet writer Joshua Samuel Brown in a piece entitled The Green Island Vomit Barge: "...Only twice in my extensive travels have I found myself, face pressed against a rolling floor, stinking of my own vomit, begging for the sweet, sweet release of death. The first time was on the boat to Green Island... The second was on the boat back. Consider yourselves warned." I managed to hold it in on the way there (while everyone else was running for the disgusting bathrooms) but the way back consisted of my face in plastic bag after bag that are kindly made available in front of every seat.

Other than the ferry ride, the trip to Green Island was a breath of fresh air after being in Taoyuan City for almost 2 months now. We rented scooters to drive around the small island (you can drive all the way around the island in 30 minutes), went in the seawater hot springs at night (only 3 of which in the world), checked out tide pools, sat on the beaches, hiked to beautiful viewing points, enjoyed the lack of tourists (other than ourselves of course), made a beach bonfire one night, went snorkeling, and ate some traditional island Taiwanese food (shark, fish, crab, bamboo with mayonaise and colored sprinkles, venison, seawood soup, and tofu). Did I say bamboo with mayonaise and colored sprinkles?? Why yes, yes I did. Not sure where that came from but yogurtland is definitely behind the times by not having those 3 things in soft-serve yogurt form. Oh and did I say that I ate those things?? Ok so I only tried the bamboo deal, venison, and tofu...this is simple-food-eating me we're talking about.

Oh and a quick note on Taiwanese snorkeling: bring your own snorkeling gear and go out on your own! The hypocrisy when it comes to safety in Taiwan is ridiculous. One one hand you have nut-jobs on scooters without helmets who think traffic laws are merely suggestions. Common scooter spottings include: 1) woman on scooter with one dog standing on the floorboard attached by a leash (I cringe thinking of what would happen if he fell off during a turn) and another dog in a pouch around her neck (on a rainy day); 2) entire family on one scooter (tiny child standing on floor board, father driving, second child behind him, mother on the back); 3) old men chewing and spitting betelnuts; and 4) someone smoking a cigarette and simultaneously talking on a cell phone (keep in mind that one handle is the throttle). I'll keep updating this list with more ridiculous things I see daily. Anyway, on the other hand we have the safety while snorkeling at Green Island. First we had to get into a full wetsuit (mind you it's not even cold). Then we had to put booties on our feet. Then we had to put on life jackets. Then they check to make sure you buckle the stomach straps and crotch straps...yes straps to go from back to front between your legs - 4 straps total. As if that wasn't enough, once they finally hand you the only needed thing (the mask with the snorkel), they bring out a long rope with pink buoys for everyone to hold as you snorkel 25 meters from the shore. HA! We almost lost it. Luckily they allowed us to snorkel around without holding the group's rope; however, diving down to the coral reef for closer looks didn't really work out. The overly-secure life jacket really limited those dives to maybe 2 feet so I floated sans movement at the top. Regardless, I had a great time and there were lots of different neon colored fish and sea creatures to amuse my lifeless (but still technically snorkeling) body.

Getting ready for snorkeling
To give you a better idea of driving around the island:

Yeahh...about my pants... ha I was in my bathing suit of course. We had just finished the extreme snorkeling adventure.


  1. The videos aren't working and I MUST see that rap group.

  2. Hi, i was googling for green island and i stumbled upon your travel blog.

    i'm from singapore and will probably wanna visit green island this year end. couple of qns if u could help:

    1. any accomodation you can recommend?
    2. is it cold at the end of the year, say december?

  3. "Why is a stripper being summoned at a children's English school?
    NOW: (To my student): "Coco, your parents are waiting downstairs to take you home. Have fun on the family scooter. Please be careful, you will probably have 3 too many people on it for the drive home."

    A stripper? Would this be in reference to Taitung? I have a friend in that city by that nickname who teaches mentally handicapped students for her fulltime day job. Many have a night job to make ends meet. Very big heart, that one. Don't judge a book by its cover.