Fulong Beach is not far from Taipei. It hosts a sand sculpture competition every year. We both like sand sculptures, so we headed out to Fulong Beach to see the sand sculptures.
Jeff and I took the train to Fulong Beach. It takes about an hour to get to Fulong from Taipei if you take the express train. But we took the local train, so it took much longer, as the train stopped at every little town between Taipei and Fulong. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry to get there, so we relaxed and enjoyed the slow pace of the train ride.
Fulong is famous for its boxed lunches, called biandang in Chinese. The original Fulong biandang is sold in a shop just outside the train station, and there was a long line of people waiting to buy them when we walked out of the station. I do not much care for boxed lunches, so instead I bought a beach hat. There were many of them for sale in a shop next to the one selling the biandang.
Fulong Beach is located adjacent to Fulong Village at the mouth of the Shuang River. It is frequently visited by Taipei residents during the summer due to its easy access from the city, Fulong is one of the more popular beach destinations in northern Taiwan, but we had never been there.
The Fulong visitor center had a giant sculpture shaped like a fish net in font of it. Inside the Fulong visitor center, there was a wonderful exhibit of carved driftwood.
During one of Taiwan’s recent typhoons, a lot of driftwood was left on the beach, some of it very large. After it was picked up off the beach, it was given to local artists to carve.
These carved driftwood sculptures were interesting and beautiful. Some were done in a traditional style, and some were more modern. I would have likely stayed and spent more time looking at them, but we had come to see a different kind of sculpture.
The Shuang River divides the beach into two distinct areas connected by a bridge. The outer area is essentially an island whose size varies according to the flow of the river and the tide.
The sand on Fulong beach is golden in color, a rarity for Taiwan, and has a higher percentage of clay in it than white beach sand. This makes it perfect for making sand sculptures! We had a good view of the sand sculptures from the bridge.
The Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival was held for the first time in 2008 to promote sand sculpture art in Taiwan. The festival has had a growing number of visitors every year since it started, and they were expecting over 500,000 people to come in 2014 to see the sand sculptures. It runs for almost two months, from May 3-June 30, so all those visitors are spread out over an eight week period. It was not too crowded on the day that we went, because it was overcast and cloudy, with a chance of rain the in the afternoon.
The competitors who made the sand sculptures were from all over the world.
There was no theme, so the sand sculptors could choose to do whatever they wanted. But the silk road in China was a popular choice, as there were three different sand sculpture with this theme.
Most of the sand sculptures were carved on all sides, so you needed to walk around the sculpture to see all of it.
Most of the sand sculptures were in great shape, considering that they had been carved almost a month ago. There was only one sand sculpture that was damaged. It was titled “Not true wealth” and featured unhappy people sitting on stacks of money. It was obvious that people had gone over the rope barrier and climbed onto the sculpture to have their photo taken sitting or standing on stacks of money (made from sand.) I wonder if the Irish artist who made this sand sculpture would have appreciated the irony!
After we were finished looking at all of the sand sculptures, we decided to rent bikes so we could bike through the old Caoling tunnel.
The old Caoling tunnel was one of the most important railroad tunnels that connected the eastern and western sides of the island at the beginning of the 20th century. It was constructed by the Japanese in 1924, and its total length is 2,165 meters. At the time of its construction, it was the longest tunnel in Taiwan. The Caoling tunnel was closed in 1979, when another train tunnel was built through the mountain. It reopened in August 2008, as a bike path, with pavement replacing the train tracks.
The journey through the tunnel seems endless. You keep moving and always expect to see a light at the end — but there is none. It takes a long time to bike through this tunnel!
The Caoling railroad tunnel is said to have inspired the creation of the famous Taiwanese folk song Diudiudang. The song was about a train running through the tunnel in its early days. The term Diudiudang was created by the song lyricist to describe the sound of the dripping water that could be heard while traveling through the tunnel.
You can see the mountain that the tunnel goes through in the background of the above photo. There is a beautiful view of the rocky seacoast on the other side of the tunnel.
The bike path continues alongside of the coast and eventually loops back into Fulong. But we decided not to continue biking along the path, as we were worried about the weather. So we just biked back through the tunnel again to return back to Fulong. We arrived back in town just in time, as it was starting to rain when we returned our rental bikes and got on the train back to Taipei.
.It was fun biking through that long tunnel! I would like to come back and do it again sometime. We had a wonderful time at Fulong!