Over the past few years I've succumbed to the bad habit of working in photoshop until the early hours of the morning. Staying up that late all the time isn't great for the body and it makes me look like a zombie most of the time, so I decided a change was in order. It has been early to bed and early to rise for the past few weeks.
As a way to reward myself for this lifestyle change I decided to jump on a train at 5:30am and head over to the East Coast of Taiwan for the day. Starting my day at 5:30am rather than ending it at that time is a big change for me but I absolutely love the East Coast.
Apart from the scenery at the top of some of Taiwan's highest mountains, I would have to say that the East Coast has the most beautiful landscapes in Taiwan and is almost unrivalled compared to all the other countries I've visited.
I've been all over the East Coast from Yilan (宜蘭) all the way down to Taidong (台東) and each time I travelled I was either going by car, train or plane. I've been to almost all of the major landmarks on the East Coast yet I haven't had the opportunity to actually stop and visit the Qingshui Cliffs (清水斷崖) which are listed as one of the most scenic spots in Taiwan.
The cliffs are so scenic it seems that the People's Republic of China features an image of the cliffs on one of the pages of their most recent passport (despite not having any semblance of sovereignty over the beautiful island or its beautiful people) which says a lot about the beauty of this place considering the size of China.
The Qingshui Cliffs are a collection of cliffs along a twenty-one kilometre stretch of beach running along the southern section of the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路) between Yilan and Hualien counties. The cliffs rise directly out of the sea and are on average about 800 meters tall with the tallest peak, Qingshui Mountain (清水山) rising 2408 meters from the ocean floor.
The spectacular mountains rising vertically out of the ocean are only part of the allure of this area though as the colour tones in the water are also quite special. There are three different shades of blue ranging from navy blue to the lightest almost seeming to look as if it were emerald green.
The water looks really inviting, but don't let the colours fool you, this isn't a beach where you should even consider taking a dip. The mountains rise directly out of the ocean which means that when you are standing on the beach you are pretty much standing on the edge of land as there is a huge drop off.
Fortunately for me, on the day I visited the waves were extremely high and looked almost perfect for a surfing competition. There was no way that I was going to get too close to those huge waves though.
There are a few ways of getting to the Qingshui Cliffs. The best method would be by car or scooter. But you can take a train to the Chongde Train Station (崇德車站) or the Heren Train Station (和仁車站) and do a bit of a hike.
The trail that takes you to the beach is currently closed and under reconstruction due to typhoon damage so if you plan on getting to the beach, be prepared for a long hike from the Chongde Train Station. If you're not interested in a long hike then the roadside viewing platform is open to the public and you can get some pretty nice shots from there.
I travelled a long way to see this place and the viewing platform wasn't enough for me, so a long hike was in order and it was one that I don't regret at all as the scenery here was absolutely amazing and makes you feel a bit like an ant would feel most of the time I suppose.
If you haven't had a chance to see this place yet, make sure to put it on your list. Don't wait as long as I did to experience it!