Yehliu is a cape on the north coast of Taiwan. This is also known by geologists as the Yehliu Promontory and is part of the Taliao Miocene Formation. This means that the rock formations are very, very old. Yet they are ever-changing because of the continuous erosion of the limestone, exposure to the elements, and earth movements. What we know as interesting and weird shapes are hoodoo stones a.k.a. tent rock or fairy chimney. Very good and popular examples are the Bryce Canyon in Utah, the High Plateaus region of Colorado Plateau, and the Badlands in Cappadocia (Turkey). Here at Yehliu Geopark, tourists can gawk at the stone formations named Ginger Rock, Ice Cream Rock, Tofu Rock, Candle Rock, and Fairy’s Shoe. However, the main attraction is The Queen or Queen’s Head. Marine erosion had given the limestone column a long, graceful neck, a flat face, and a regal headdress all of which, seen at the right angle and with the barest of imaginations, have a resemblance to Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti whose classically beautiful bust was discovered at the Great Pyramid.
Yehliu Geopark is operated by the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration. It is to their credit that the park has retained much of its original appearance and is in as pristine a condition as it can be. The development of the area is well-planned in such a way that tourists can have maximum enjoyment of the sights yet incur minimum or zero damage to this popular tourist destination. The brochure, for example, states that “When you come here, be sure not to touch or even damage any of these creations of nature, so that our future generations can also enjoy them.” A series of rules are strictly observed. “Attention. Please save the environment. No touching\No climbing\No biking\No wading\No swimming\No fishing\No tagging of any kind or anything illegal to the local law.\Please do not litter.\Do not disturb plants.\Due to the heavy wind and waves, please do not pass the red warning line.” The guidelines are obviously obeyed for the tourists’ sakes as well as nature’s. Even though teeming with people, things are orderly at Yehliu. Pathways have nary a crack nor a rough portion to inconvenience the pedestrian. Toilets are strategically located-from the Visitors Information Center to the farthest point at the foot of the heavily-wooded hill.
Yehliu Geopark is one of the destinations in Taiwan that showcase the country’s love for nature. The bits of greenery that dot the cape are preserved and are encouraged to thrive. On my trip there late last month, I saw a specie of bamboo that was low-lying with what seemed to have a very short stalk that was practically hidden by the lush leaves of the plant. The bamboo grew in clumps among the rocks and made the landscape very pretty just like anybody’s well-kept garden. And this vast garden happens to be beside the sweep of water we know as the Pacific Ocean.
What is worth emulating from Yehliu Geopark is the maintenance which is constant and untiring. The hardworking crew of two that I saw were working on, or rather, under, the pedestrian bridge. One was scraping away whatever crust was forming on the steel bridge support while the other was scrubbing at the rocks underneath the bridge. Scrubbing the rocks, now think of that! They practically left no stones unturned in order to maintain cleanliness, and the purity of the water and the air. The area is clean partly because the guests to the site were also mindful of the rules. Throwing trash anywhere seemed sacrilegious. Can we say the same thing about our parks?