Taiwan travels: Jinmianshan and the Suao-Hualien Highway

Richard Brown
3 min readFeb 25, 2024

My second hike up Jinmianshan in two days, this time by an alternative route starting from the Wende MRT station. It took about twenty minutes to reach the trailhead from there, passing the quite charming Bihu Park (碧湖公園) along the way.

I liked this route more than the previous one, particularly the wooded section at the beginning, because the terrain was more varied. Some of the rocky parts further up the mountain were pretty tough, however. It would be very easy to twist an ankle if you lose concentration even for a few seconds.

As much as I enjoyed the two hikes, I suspect that I’ll be returning to my usual stamping ground of Jiuwufeng next weekend. More than a few times on the trail, I told myself that I’m way too old to be scrambling up and down boulders. There is a lot of truth to the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Even though it was only a couple of weeks ago, my recent trip around Taiwan seems like a distant memory. One of the most beautiful places we stopped off at while driving along the magnificent east coast Suao-Hualien Highway was the Qingshui Cliff (清水斷崖), which stretches for more than 21km and rises an average of 800 metres from the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The views of the ocean waves smashing against the cliffs are absolutely spectacular!

Such is the ruggedness of the terrain that the first road suitable for vehicles was not completed until 1932. Since then, the highway has been substantially upgraded, including the construction of new tunnels through the most dangerous parts, and a railway was added in 1980 after six years of work.

Suao is a hard-scrabble fishing port, with some great seafood restaurants around the harbour. The atmospheric Nanfang’ao Nantian Temple (南方澳南天宮) dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea, is well worth a look. Highlights include jade and gold statues of the deity.

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Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.