Tag Archives: Keelung

‘New House’ Blessing, House Warming and Birthday Celebrations, All in One – YES!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me birthday greetings and for all your prayers for my moving house and settling in, much appreciated. Yes, it’s all been happening!

Two wonderful days of birthday celebrations started at Xian-Xiao Junior High School on Tuesday morning at my early morning English conversation class (7:45 am start!) followed by coffee with my good friend, Jasmine. Cards and birthday songs from all the kids, and lots of photos – thank you to them and to Jasmine for organizing it all. Plus their wisteria is always in flower on my birthday, so we made the most of it!

Then, Rev. Paul Lau, my good friend from Sabah, Malaysia happened to post on Facebook that he was in Taipei for a conference starting the following day, and such are the wonders of modern technology that a few seconds later, wow, we’d made arrangements for him to come and visit, and he set off! So we rushed around everywhere and ended up having coffee with our Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Chang and his wife, Hannah, and sister-in-law, Rev. Elizabeth Wei and Rev. Peter Chen. This was a great reunion for Elizabeth and Paul, who had first met in 1991 when Elizabeth spent a month in Sabah, when Paul was still at high school. The left photos are of all the 3 times they have met, plus us all having coffee!

Wednesday was actually my birthday, and at lunch time, we had our usual English Bible Study with the St. John’s University student fellowship. We’re doing the parables of Jesus, and we spent a happy hour talking about the Good Samaritan. This semester the number of boys in the whole fellowship group is way more than the number of girls, like 4 times more, whereas only a few years ago there were way more girls than boys. Anyway, they are all very lovely – and here they all are – thank you Setu for taking the photo!

I’ve been back in Taiwan now for about 6 weeks and it’s taken that long to move into my new place and get it all sorted. I’m in a flat / apartment block that has just been converted from offices, so being the first person to move in, there was lots to do. And the one person who has done so much to help get it all done is Rev. Lennon Chang. So I invited Lennon and all from Advent Church, plus all the SJU student fellowship to come for a service of blessing for my new house on my birthday ~ a combined house blessing / house warming / birthday party all in one. Yes, I love a good party! And it so happens that my new next-door neighbour, Feng-Ray, who also works in our chaplaincy office, has his birthday next week too ~ so I invited him and his wife, Chuan-Fang to join in for a double house blessing and birthday celebration – 2 houses, one party!

We had LOTS of people come! Lots of LOVELY people no less! Well, it was lots for the size of the place, way more people than we had chairs for anyway! So many, in fact, that it would have been impossible to put them all together for a group photo. If anyone can count them from all the photos, do let me know. Maybe about 30 altogether or more – students, church members, friends and neighbours, including our neighbour upstairs, a Creative Design lecturer from Mainland China, also Calvin, one of our Malaysian students currently on an internship in Taipei, so this is the first time I’ve seen him since I came back from the UK – always grateful to him for his support for our SJU English Bible Study. It was great to see so many old-but-still-young friends and students. Love ’em all! A big welcome to everyone!

The house blessing started at 7:30 pm ~ and with me holding the candle, Lennon took me around the house praying at the door of each room, following the prayers in the book, which everyone responded to. The prayers are really appropriate. Lennon sprinkled the holy water, 3 times, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit after each prayer in each room. All very meaningful. Thanks be to God!

We finished with the ‘peace’ and then we had a huge birthday cake and song for all of us celebrating birthdays in April, which includes Lennon, whose birthday was yesterday. Such fun!

It was especially nice to welcome all the Tan family to the party. And especially because it was David, brother No. 2 of 3, who with his wife, Marge drilled many holes in the wall for me to hang up my pictures, and who designed and made the curtains for my living room. The curtains are so special, very distinctive Tan family style! I’ve spent all week inviting all my friends to come to my new house to see my curtains, cos there aint none other like them in the whole world! The Tan family are in the T-shirt business so they have lots of material, lots of ideas, lots of creative skills and are always willing to help in any way. This is David posing in front of his curtains, and Janet Tan with Rev. Peter Chen in the foreground. Thanks to all of the Tan family for all their friendship and support over the years!

And then, when all the party-goers had just left, my friend Ah-Guan rolled up with one of her friends from Taichung, my first visitors to come and stay!

It’s Tomb-Sweeping Festival plus Children’s Day, so we have a 4-day weekend. Not being ones to hang around doing nothing on a holiday, we’ve been today over to Keelung, to Heping Island…

To Badouzi to see the beautiful painted houses…

And to see the old Agenna Shipyard, now one of Taiwan’s most famous abandoned buildings, it’s a really interesting place, oozing with history and well, abandonment!

Keelung was very busy…

And so we didn’t stay too long, and called in at Laomei Algal Reef on the way home – it’s at its best at this time of the year, all green!

(Updated on April 6: And yesterday we went to see the Calla Lilies in full bloom up at Zhuzihu, in a valley in the Yangmingshan Mountains above Taipei… it was beautiful!)

So a very very big thank you to everyone who came to my party – and if you didn’t or couldn’t, well you can see from the photos that we had a great time! Do find time to come and visit, I am now open for nice visitors, and as you know, I just love a noisy house full of happy people!

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Keelung ~ Tenth Anniversary Celebrations 聖司堤反堂建堂10週年感恩禮拜 Congratulations!

Today we gathered in Keelung for a Thanksgiving Service at St. Stephen’s Church to celebrate and give thanks to God for these past 10 years ~ 10 years of amazing grace, wonderful blessings and faithful witness!

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This was St. Stephen’s Church Welcome Team all ready!

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And so many clergy, friends and supporters….

And all the clergy together!

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Keelung is unfortunately known in Taiwan as the ‘City of Unhappiness’, and in the outlying Chungshan District, there have long been particularly high levels of unemployment, poverty, alcohol addiction and mental health problems.  In 2007, Rev. Richard R. C. Lee and members of Trinity Church, Keelung had a vision to reach out to the people of Chungshan District, where there were no other churches at the time.  After much prayer, and with the support of Bishop David J. H. Lai and the clergy of the northern deanery of the Taiwan Episcopal Church, outreach was started, first in the local community center, then they started to rent a building nearby as a church.  It was that church (at St. Stephen’s first ever worship service) that was consecrated by Bishop Lai on May 18, 2008, exactly 10 years ago today.  In 2010, a timely grant from the United Thank Offering of US$ 50,000 helped towards the purchase of the present building, which is really a ground-floor apartment, converted into a church.  The basement is huge and extends out under the road, and is also owned by the church; it’s used as a classroom for the outreach program to the local community.  Today it was used as overflow seating.  This is the Holy Communion….

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These are 4 of the key people in the development of St. Stephen’s Church: from left, Rev. Richard R. C. Lee, Mr. Yei 葉錦地, the local community leader (li-zhang 里長), Rev. Julia S. H. Lin and Bishop David J. H. Lai….

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St. Stephen’s is a non-stop, very busy, very active, very joyful and happy place.  There are so many activities going on all day long, all part of the community outreach program for children, teenagers, families, women, men and seniors.  It was the community program for children that was so welcomed by the local community leaders when the church was first started.  The community leaders have provided huge support ever since, and many of them came along today!  Without them, it would have been much more difficult to gain the trust of the local people, but with their support, the church has been welcomed, and gained access into people’s lives – and hearts.  Lives are being transformed, step by small step.

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Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin 林淑華牧師 has been assigned to St. Stephen’s since it was established, and is helped by many local people who have made St. Stephen’s their spiritual home.  Ms. Huang Min ‎黃敏 (on the far left in the above photo) moved from Trinity Church to help support St. Stephen’s from the beginning, and is one of the pillars of the church.  These days, St. Stephen’s has a core of committed Christians on the leadership team, and many more helping run the different outreach programs.  One of our diocesan evangelists, Mr. Felix Ming-You Chen (right in the photo below, next to Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu) is also assigned there at weekends.  There is so much really worthwhile ministry going on, thanks be to God!

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Today, being a Friday, meant that most of the participants in the Thanksgiving Service were adults, as the children were all in school.  But we were blessed to welcome a group of children who formed the music group for the service, they came from St. Luke’s Church, Hualien with Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu, they did so well – even if they were squeezed into a corner and difficult to photograph!

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The other group who sang were the St. Stephen’s Church senior group.  Oh, they were so lovely ~ and so expressive!

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The service started at 10:00 am.  All of our clergy from northern Taiwan came along, plus quite a few from the south, and lots of church members too.  It was wonderful to see Rev. Richard Lee returning to visit from St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung, here he is with Rev. Lily Chang.   Why are they laughing?  Because there is such a height difference between them that this is a rare occasion when Lily is taller than Richard!

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Many clergy from other denominations in Keelung came too, plus representatives of the different social welfare organizations who support the outreach ministry at St. Stephen’s.  All the St. Stephen’s people were wearing special new T-shirts commissioned for the occasion, they gave us as gifts when we left.  Plus wooden key rings etc, made by social enterprise foundations locally.

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The readings were Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication of the Temple from 1 Kings 8: 22-30, Psalm 84: 1-12 and 1 Peter 2: 1-5, 9-10 ~ and the Gospel was from Matthew 21: 18-22 about the fig-tree, finishing with, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Bishop Lai referred to these in his sermon in the context of the history and testimony of St. Stephen’s Church.  All glory be to God!

Photos from the service today….

After the service, we had 2 birthday cakes, one on each floor, the one cut by Bishop Lai was provided by one of the church families, whose child also has a birthday today.   We also had lunch boxes, and lots of fruit and dessert.

And we finished with a presentation from Bishop Lai to Rev. Julia Lin (and St. Stephen’s Church) of one of Bishop Lai’s homemade wooden artworks, saying in Chinese, “God’s mercy endures forever.”

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Today’s Thanksgiving Service was such a great occasion, really special. For me, this is one of THE churches that I always try to take my very special VIP visitors from overseas who may be interested in frontline mission.  St. Stephen’s Church has such a testimony, transformation is happening in that area of Keelung, and real hope is being given to the whole community.  May God continue to bless St. Stephen’s Church and all who serve ~ and are served there.  Thanks be to God!

A grey Mid-Autumn Moon Festival @ Keelung!

A grey grey day in Keelung, on Taiwan’s NE coast, as always!  Grey city, grey weather.  But particularly so today as the country surfaces after yesterday’s Typhoon Meranti, and prepares for tomorrow’s Typhoon Malakas.  We’re in a kind of typhoon-sandwich….

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Today is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the first day of a 4-day holiday weekend, when the moon is supposedly at its best and brightest all year ha ha ~ no sign of any moon round here!  It’s grey grey grey with rain rain rain and more rain!

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In Keelung today, my arrival coincided with the arrival of the huge Golden Princess Cruise Ship returning from a 5-day cruise to Japan….

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In fact the only major colour in Keelung was all the balloons on sale outside the famous temple!

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Keelung outdoes itself for signs and billboards saying ‘Keelung’ or ‘I love Keelung’, including on the roadside electricity substations….

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Hopefully the locals do love Keelung ~ even if they don’t love the Keelung weather!

To Keelung 基隆, the hard way….

Have bike.  Old bike.  Very old bike.  Old heavy bike.  Old heavy bike that only works in first gear.  Old heavy bike with big strong basket in front.  Good for shopping.  Good for going to market.  Old heavy bike needs to go to Keelung.  New owner lives in Keelung. New owner wants old heavy bike for shopping in local market.  But new owner cannot ride to Keelung.

Dragon Boat Festival.  Day off.  4:30 am.  Dark.  Me in yellow.  Me on bike.  Very old heavy bike.  Setting off for Keelung.  In first gear.  First gear all the way to Keelung.  40+ km. Crazy.  Pass motorbike convoys of young people.  Many.  Roaring motorbikes.  Happy people.  All out all night.  All going the other way.  Very dark.  No lights.  Up big hill.  Down big hill.  In first gear.  Pass Baishawan 白沙灣.  Up second big hill.  Down second big hill. Still in first gear.  Flat from now on till Keelung.  Flat roads all in first gear.  Crazy.

Beautiful views.  Calm sea.  Local people exercising.  Fishing.  Shops already open selling Dragon Boat Festival Zhong-Zi 粽子.  Sticky Rice Dumplings.  Like.  But too early for eating zhong-zi.

5:18 am sunrise near Shimen 石們.

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Still-shipwrecked stranded ship.  Still there.

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5:27 am pass Jinshan 金山 Nuclear Power Station.

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6:00 am breakfast in 7-Eleven.  Coffee.  All set to go. Pass by Jinshan.

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Pass second nuclear power station.  Barbed wire all around.  Not beautiful.  Pass through Yehliu Tunnel 野柳.  Hate it.  Dark.  Narrow.  Cars whizzing by.  Out into the sun.  Pass Wanli 萬里.  Stop to put on more sunscreen lotion.  Sunglasses on.  Lots of traffic.  Busy road.  Hate it.  Facing massive mountain road ahead.  Hot.  Very hot. Walk.  Push bike.  Up very big hill.  Huffing ‘n puffing.  7:30 am pass sign saying ‘Welcome to Keelung.’  Keelung nowhere to be seen.  Not a house in sight.  Still an hour to go.

Down very very steep hill to Waimu Shan 外木山.  Road almost vertical.  Not sure if brakes will hold.  Go very slow.  Arrive in one piece.  Sigh of relief.  7:45 am arrive at sea.  Coastal bike-way to Keelung.  Beautiful.  Almost worth it.

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Another big hill ahead.  Walk.  Push bike.  Hot.  Sun.  Very hot.  Up.  Down into Keelung. Cars everywhere.  One-way streets.  Traffic Lights.  Nightmare on a bike.  8:30 am arrive at Trinity Church.  Call friend.  Friend arrives on motorbike with niece.  Photos to prove me and bike have arrived.  In one piece.  In first gear.  Grand handover.  Still alive.  Still smiling.

Second breakfast.  Yummy Zhong-Zi 粽子 with friend in house.  Lemon and honey juice. Water.  Lots of water.  10:00 am back to Keelung Harbour.  Weather turning grey.

Going home by bus.  Happy.  Back along the same route.  75 minutes.  Rain.  Home by noon.

Mission accomplished.  Bike delivered.  Made it to Keelung.  In one piece.

Never again.

Ha ha! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 ~ very misty, very muddy, but hey, very fun!

‘Far over the misty mountains cold / To dungeons deep and caverns old / We must away ere break of day / To seek the pale enchanted gold’…..

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And so we did ~ venture forth that is, in the footsteps of The Hobbit and his friends, to the misty mountains cold, dungeons deep and caverns old ~ there’s plenty of them in the mountains above Keelung, and plenty have sadly lost their lives in those caverns mining the gold.  And copper.  The old gold mining town of Jinguashi 金瓜石 is located right there, right in the misty mountains, and just above it is Teapot Mountain (580m), the top looking like a teapot when seen from Jiu-Fen.  And that’s where we went yesterday, New Year’s Day, by car and motorcycle, a group of 10 of us from church and chaplaincy….. and y’know, it was a very fun day!

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Last time I visited Teapot Mountain was in September (see that blog post here) on a nice sunny and dry day.  Although the rest of Taiwan may have been sunny and dry yesterday, Teapot Mountain definitely wasn’t. It wasn’t actually raining, but had been. Lots and lots! So although we arrived at the actual Teapot relatively dry, by the time we’d clambered in and up and through and out the other side, we were definitely not very dry. Nor very clean. Mud-covered to be precise.  Fortunately we all had gloves to grab onto the ropes and haul ourselves up, but the rocks were soaking wet and slippery and very dirty and muddy.  Ah, yes, and so were we by the end!

But y’know, it was great fun, and, hey a bit of mud is OK…

Hope you noticed the shoes in the last photo ~ how we laughed!

Grateful thanks to the lovely Ching-Yi who drove her car over there with us in it, 90 minutes there, and 90 minutes back.  Those on the motorbikes took double that time, but hey, they were still smiling to the end!

And a great way to spend New Year’s Day too ~ YES!

Mt. Keelung基隆山, Jinguashi金瓜石 POW Camp and Jiufen九份

An Indian Summer (or in Chinese, known as an Autumn Tiger!) ~ Yippee!

Yes, a whole 3 days so far of temps up to 32°C, with blue skies, blue seas and butterflies ~ time to get the sunglasses, sun cream and sun hats back out, YES!

And if there’s one place in Taiwan where a fine day is rare, it’s the N.E coast and the mountains above Keelung.  I was up there 2 months ago to climb Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 and Banpingshan 半平山(check out that blog post here) and at the time, thought that if there’s ever a fine day again, that’s the place to go!

And so it was that today was THE day!  Up early on the first bus to Tamsui, then the MRT to Taipei where there’s a bus that goes straight up to Jinguashi 金瓜石 without having to go via Keelung, which on a Saturday morning is packed out with people and vehicles…

First stop was Keelung Mountain (588m) which kind of separates Jinguashi 金瓜石 and Jiufen 九份 and from the angle I was looking, is said to resemble a pregnant woman lying on her back…. what do you think eh?!

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It’s actually an extinct volcano and takes about 30-40 minutes to go straight up ~ there’s steps all the way, little pavilions to rest in, and of course great views!

Next stop was the town of Jinguashi 金瓜石 itself.  Oh dear, such a tragic history.  Famous for it’s gold and copper mines during the Japanese era (1895-1945) in fact it was THE largest copper mine in the Japanese Empire at the time. The mines are long closed, and the Japanese buildings and mine workings have been converted into a now-famous Gold Museum.  Always full of tourists – which is just as well because otherwise Jinguashi is a very quiet place. I met an old man who told me he was born there in 1925, and apart from a few years serving the Japanese army during World War II, he’s lived there ever since. And he’s losing all his old friends one by one, so it’s a very quiet life.  In fact we walked together down through the old winding streets…

Mining towns nearly always have tragic histories, and this one is exacerbated by the fact that the Japanese used over 1,000 captured Allied soldiers to work in the most dangerous mines – Prisoners of War who lived in the notorious POW camp at Jinguashi, known at the time as Kinkaseki POW Camp.  The introduction on the Taiwan POW website says:

On November 14, 1942 in the village of Jinguashi, located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, 523 allied POWs began what was to be for some a three year ordeal as slaves in the largest copper mine in the Japanese Empire. In all more than 1100 British Commonwealth and Allied prisoners of war slaved in this notorious Japanese POW camp called KINKASEKI from December 1942 to March 1945…..

The POW’s in this camp were forced to slave in the dark depths of a copper mine and were subjected to the most inhumane treatment imaginable. Conditions in the mine and the camp were as bad, if not worse in many cases, than that experienced by the POW’s on the now-famous Railway of Death in Burma and Thailand, which was made popular by the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”.

It’s well worth reading more on the Taiwan POW website – and note that every Remembrance Sunday they have a Memorial Service there, organised by the Canadian Trade Office.

All that remains of that POW Camp now is an old gate post and part of the original wall, but the camp area is now a Memorial Peace Park, with flowers, explanations, a Memorial Tree, sculptures and a wall with a list of all the names of the POW’s held there…..

Very moving.  Definitely well worth visiting ~ and especially with Remembrance Sunday being this weekend.  Lest we forget indeed.

And so on to Jiufen 九份 , just a mile or so down the road ~ and which is always overrun with zillions of people!  Famous for its gold rush, long over ~ these days it is a major tourist destination – to visit the Old Street, eat and relax and look at the view.  It’s also famous for the location of several famous movies, and now also an arty kind of place. There were visitors from all over Asia – Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, all enjoying themselves – and of course shopping!

Jiufen needs a sunny day ~ and today was it!  And the Jiufen Church ~ what a view!

An amazing day ~ full of history and full of beauty.  Such a beautiful place – but with such a tragic past.  So much to remember this coming Remembrance Day.  This year is also the 70th anniversary of the end of Word War II, and October 25 was the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender in Taiwan.  As Robbie Burns is thought to have written:

‘Man’s inhumanity to man  Makes countless thousands mourn!’

And may God help us ~ to ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’….. (Luke 6:31, Matthew 7:12)

Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 and Banpingshan 半平山 (半屏山) Ridge

What a place!  In its heyday, Jinguashi 金瓜石 was a very major happening kind of place, a gold rush town up in the mountains above Keelung on Taiwan’s NE coast with one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines ~ over 600 km of tunnels in and under those hills. During the Japanese era (1895-1945), it became the largest copper mine in the Japanese empire. But by the 1970’s it was all gone, the gold rush all finished.  As with all mining towns, so here – a tragic history of hard labour and terrible working and living conditions. Worse too, as the Prisoner of War Camp in the town supplied over 1,000 captured Allied soldiers to work in the most dangerous parts of the mine….

These days, Jinguashi is a tourist town ~ the Japanese residences have been restored and the gold mine area is all open as a museum, although some of it quite badly damaged by Typhoon Soudelor last month and still under repair.  There’s even the ruins of the Japanese Shinto Shrine to visit.  The main problem is the miserable weather, rain, rain, and more rain ~ but yesterday was one of those rare days when the rain stopped, the clouds were still low and dark, but that made walking more comfortable, and yes, the sun even came out!

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Just above Jinguashi is Keelung Mountain, that’s the one in the photo above.  Behind me on this side is a fantastic circular ridge of mountains, Banping Mountain 半平山 (半屏山) (713m) and Caiguangliao Mountain 燦光寮山 (739m).

IMG_4329And half way up Banping Mountain is a massive clump of rocks sticking up, called Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 (580m). When viewed from the gold museum and the Shinto Shrine, it really does look like a teapot…. with no handle, but hey, a teapot nonetheless!

So in a country of tea and teapots, Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 is definitely a must-climb!

The teapot on Teapot Mountain is huge, and the only way up it is through the middle of the teapot – fortunately there’s fixed ropes provided, and it’s fun, and the views are great!

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But to get there from here is, well, quite a journey.  T’would be quicker by boat, just off round the coast.  But of course there’s no boat, and sooooo ~ on the first bus out of Sanzhi 三芝 at 5:30am, then MRT Metro and 2 more buses and hey, you’re at Jinguashi by 9:00am ready for the big expedition to start.

Quite amazingly, there was a group from Keelung on the top of Teapot Mountain who were going on around the ridge ~ and so off we set together.  They knew the route like the back of their hands, they even had lots of yummy Keelung delicacies to munch away on, and they had spare gloves.  All to share.  There were lots of fixed ropes so the gloves came in useful, and lots of long silver grass which was very slippery so the gloves helped grab onto clumps of it.  So off we went, all round the ridge and back down via the Shinto Shrine by 2:00pm.  5 hours round trip.

Such a fun group to meet up with ~ and so it was that we had a special group photo together on top of Caiguangliao Mountain 燦光寮山.  Thanks to them it was a great day!

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An amazing day in fact, well worth all the trouble of getting there and getting back. Actually getting back was easier than going, using the bus straight to Taipei rather than going via Keelung. Well worth it all.  Thanking God for amazing views, beautiful mountains, ideal weather.  And the teapot? Well, so special.

And now, of course, pouring Taiwan Oolong Tea from my favorite Chinese teapot will definitely never be the same again, ha ha!