The Wild Shores of Yilan

Getting lost on the Yilan coast
Getting lost on the rugged coast of Yilan.

Last May I went to Sū'ào 蘇澳, a small township in Yílán 宜蘭 known for its cold springs, seafood restaurants, and fish market. I was there to visit my uncle whose work had brought him to Taiwan for a conference. On my only free afternoon I borrowed a bicycle from the hotel and went out riding to see what I might find. It was unrelentingly hot, as it often is in Taiwan, and so my goal was to get lost without dying from exposure.

I went south along a road leading out of Sū'ào 蘇澳 to Nanfang’ao, a fishing port and harbour nestled between several rugged mountain outcrops on the edge of the Pacific. Beyond the shipyards and industrial lots I found a small residential area with a disused road heading upslope to a gorgeous view of the sea. I hopped a fence and clambered down a rope-lined trail to an unnamed beach where I found a small cave lined with volcanic rock off to one side. Inside, I turned around and captured this view of the wild shores of Yilan, a primal coastline where the vast forces that shape our world interact in a slow, ponderous symphony of tectonic uplift, orogeny, and erosion.