Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園), Stones want to be people, too

Yehliu (野柳) is a small fishing town one-and-a-half bus hours north of Taipei. Following the harbor and its stacks of nets and fish traps on the one side, its bustling fish restaurants on the other, you will find your way towards a rocky cape, its orange cliff raising above the often churning waves. This place, more academically called “Yehliu Promontory”, is well-known in travel guides as “Yehliu Geopark”, a local tourist attraction well worth a visit.

To the many visiting Taiwanese families, it is not the cape itself but rather the hundreds of hoodoo rocks that are the cape’s main attraction. Often man (or woman-)high, the rugged stones invite the visitor not only to the obligatory photos, but to some creative guessing-games, just like summer’s slow-moving fluffy clouds do. Yet, in many cases, the local tourism bureau spoils the fun a bit, their signs loudly introducing the “Fairy Shoe”, the “Beehive”, the “Ginger Rocks”, and the “Sea Candles”. Thus, it doesn’t surprise that the biggest stars of the parade are those stones featuring a vaguely human silhouette, the thin-necked “Queens Head” being the park’s unambiguous super-star. With people queuing 15-minutes deep to take pictures in front of the otherwise unremarkable stone, we decided to leave the crowds behind.

The pathways up the cliffs are much emptier. Overly careful clerks unfortunately closed the rugged track along the shore. Yet, while the hoodoos with their crowds invite a certain comic element, it is the windy quite of the cliff with its more secluded view towards Taiwan’s northern bays and hills that make the trip really worth it.