We woke promptly at sometime, probably 9, that sounds about right, and embarked for Bai Sha Wan beach. The beach was about two hours travel north, outside of Taipei and along the coast. It was a beautiful beach and for the life of us we could not properly pronounce it. I asked several people and no one had heard of it. Finally we called the Taiwanese tourist helpline, and I asked. She said “Bai Sha Wan Beach? I do not know about it, but you can visit Bai Sha Wan beach. It is really beautiful.” It sounded the exact same as how I had been pronouncing it.
Bai Sha Wan Beach aka Bai Sha Wan Beach
So began our trip. We took a subway to the end of the red line then transferred to a city bus and took it 45 stops into the middle of nowhere. Finally we arrived and strolled down to the beach. We rented a small bamboo lean-to/cabana and set up the provided tatami mat. The swimming area was designated by little ropes and buoys with life guards surrounding the swim area stationed about every 30 feet. Clearly Taiwan takes ocean safety very seriously.
Exploring Tamsui, Taiwan
After the beach we took the bus back into Tamsui, the stop at the end of the red line where we got off. We walked around downtown and checked out some of the markets. Up until now, Nicole and I hadn’t been the best at eating traditional Taiwanese food, so we decided to make up for it, in spades, in Tamsui. We tried all kinds of delicacies.
We walked along the city’s little boardwalk enjoying our amazing street food and people watching. There were little booths where you could play carnival games, like popping balloons with darts for a prize, massage places, fortune tellers, and gift shops. At the end of the boardwalk we came to a small beach with a man painting giant pictures rapidly one after the other. He would paint what looked like a random image until at the very end he would turn the picture over and you would realize it was Mozart, or perhaps a castle or mountainside.
Fort Santo Domingo
Not far from the boardwalk area is an old Spanish fort called Fort Santo Domingo. The fort was built in 1629 and during its several hundreds of years of existence, it was burned, demolished, and razed. Originally it was a Spanish fort, then a Dutch fort, then a Chinese fort, then a British consulate. The British turned the fort into a consulate in the late 1800s and later built a consular residence next to it. Nicole and I walked around the grounds and used the building to escape the heat. Both the fort and the consulate were relatively empty with only a few other tourists milling about.
After the fort and the consulate we were pretty beat. It had been a long day and we’d traveled a great distance. Nicole and I took the subway back to our hostel and called it a day. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventure of movies, ferris wheels, and more night markets!