This place is really quite something! And it’s quite something because this kind of scenery, called ‘badlands’, by definition shouldn’t really be here at all! All the other badlands in the world occur in places where it’s dry. Really dry. So dry in fact that little or no vegetation can grow anyway. Thus, ‘bad land’. Usually found in arid or semi-arid climates, like the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA. Taiwan is the only example in the whole world of badlands in a tropical climate. And tropical climates are anything but dry.
So we have the curious phenomenon of completely bare and eroded steep slopes, ‘badland-style’, but down in the valleys, there’s lakes and abundant vegetation – including banana trees…..
According to Wikipedia, badlands are “a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density. They can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas, hoodoos and other such geologic forms are common in badlands.”
Taiwan’s badlands are extensive throughout Taiwan, but the best area is in Tianliao, in Kaohsiung, known as Tianliao Moon World. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of amusement park. Rest assured, it’s not. But if you go at night, the slopes are all lit up in different colours. And of course there are many restaurants nearby, mostly selling chicken. There’s a moon sculpture and a sundial too…
The reason for the place becoming popular in recent years is that when Kaohsiung City and County merged in 2010, money became available for developing Tianliao Moon World into a place where people could walk and enjoy the scenery.
Paths were built, steps were constructed up some of the steepest slopes, plus they built rest areas and toilets. There’s also a visitor centre, where a very nice warden answers questions, and there’s a display of maps and old photos.
We were there last Thursday. Blue skies and hot sun. Good job it was spring and not summer otherwise we’d have keeled over in the heat. In summer, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Take the Kaohsiung MRT to Gangshan South. That’s quite a station in itself….
On weekends and schooldays there’s lots of buses from there to Moon World. But on weekdays, buses are much fewer, and last Thursday, rather than waiting an hour for a bus, and possibly not getting there until midday, instead we took a taxi, and the 3 of us paid a quite reasonable NT$ 600 in total. Set price. We got there at 10:30 am and it was already really hot. The bare slopes are all south-facing, and get the full force of the sun – so we did too!
Two hours is enough to see everything and go everywhere. We had a great time. I loved it. Then we had a delish chicken lunch, that was good too. And the nice warden at the visitor’s centre gave us ice-lollies to cool off while we waited for the bus back to Gangshan MRT.
Definitely worth a trip. Such amazing scenery. And at the bus stop, there’s an incredible bougainvillea bush, all pink. Stunning eh?!
What a great place! A must-see, must-go kind of place. So do go. It’s well worth all the effort ~ and the heat!