Saturday, October 2, 2010
Chaoyang Trail in Nanao 南澳的朝陽步道
This trail is a short and easy walk up a mountain called Guishan 龜山 (not Guishan island - this is a different Guishan) next to Nanao harbor. Even though you're walking uphill most of the time, it isn't very steep, and the trail is excellent - mostly stairs made from soil and rock held together by large blocks of wood. Because the mountain is next to the sea, there is a spectacular view of the ocean from the top and at various points on the way up.
The only bad thing about this trail is that it only goes for about a kilometer. You can go up and back in about an hour, although will surely want to linger at the top and enjoy the sea view. Considering how remote Nanao is, it really isn't worth coming here just for this trail. You should try to do something else in the area while you're here. However, since Nanao is on the road between Yilan and Hualian, this is the perfect stopover.
I saw lots of mushrooms growing by the side of the trail - many different species. I've never seen so many kinds of weird mushrooms. And next to the train station in town, there was a woman selling different types of (presumably edible) wild mushrooms. They seem to be a local specialty.
Nanao 南澳 is on the twisty little road between Suao and Hualian. To get there from Hualian, just drive north. From Yilan, take the No. 5 highway south until it ends at Suao. Then follow the signs guiding you toward Hualian. Do NOT follow the signs toward Nanfangao 南方澳. Although Nanao and Nanfangao sound similar, they are in opposite directions. The road toward Hualian is pretty bad - it's just one lane each way, and there are always lots of big gravel trucks driven by insane idiots, so the road is slow, annoying, and dangerous. You're pretty much guaranteed to get stuck behind a slow moving gravel truck, so just relax and enjoy the scenery. The drive from the end of the highway to Nanao will take about 45 minutes. Before you get to Nanao, you will see a set of huge wooden signs on the right directing you toward the Chaoyang trail and other attractions. If you get lost, just head toward Nanao harbor. The start of the trail is well marked, and is right next to the harbor.
Another way to get to Nanao is to take the train. The train station is some distance from the mountain, but there is a shop in front of the station (on the right hand side) which rents out bicycles and scooters. Some bike trails around the mountain and surrounding farmland which have been marked out, and it looks like a nice place for a relaxing ride.