Sunset at Daodaocheng Wharf

I was going to leave this post until the end of the summer, but there are two timely events taking place around the Dadaocheng Wharf this weekend, so I'm going to post now and provide some links to the events in case anyone is in Taipei and interested in taking part. 

The first event is a Photowalk held by some of my friends in my Photowalking group. The purpose of the walk is to walk around the area of the wharf and will include three of the old Taipei city gates and will eventually show up to the wharf for fireworks and the music festival. 

Event Link: Photowalkers Facebook Group

The second event is the newly minted "Sounds from the River" music festival (大稻埕情人日) which will include free live concerts and is part of the much larger Riverside Music festival (台北河岸音樂季) as well as a large fireworks display.

Event Link: Sounds of the River

If you are free tomorrow (August 6th) you might want to check out these events!  

 Dadaocheng Wharf

The Dadaocheng Wharf is a newly renovated and quite popular outdoor activity spot for the residents of Taipei and is a short walking distance from the Taipei Railway Station. The long wharf has been integrated into the much longer bicycle path which spans almost the entire distance of the city and is a busy spot on weekends with various recreational events held throughout the year.

The wharf has played an important role in history and helped fuel the early economic success of the city and of the Dadaocheng area (which is now part of Datong district - 大同區) specializing in textiles, tea, cotton and a lot of what you're still able to see today on the popular Dihua shopping street. The area was sort of a more inland harbour for merchants to get their products both in and out of the city at a much quicker pace than from the original wharf near Danshui.

Much like a lot of other economically successful towns of the past, the merchant shopping area around Dadaocheng (which is considered to be "old" Taipei) has turned into somewhat of an "old street" where you can see the same type of "baroque" architecture that is prevalent in places like Daxi and Sanxia and merchants sell traditional products that aren't very easy to find.

The reason why the economic situation changed in so many of these places was because of the completion of Taiwan's railway system which took away the economic monopoly of businesses using the river and also made transportation of goods much more convenient. Businesses which ultimately made their fortune importing and exporting products by way of the river were thus forced to either relocate or thunk of new business ventures.

Today however, the Dihua Street Lunar New Year market is a local tradition for the people of Taipei and while the street attracts quite a few tourists throughout the year, the Lunar New Year market brings in well over a million visitors a year. The market sells a lot of the same things you would have seen hundreds of years ago in the form of silks, textiles, traditional Chinese snacks, food and medicine and is still the best place Taipei to do your one stop shopping for traditional materials.

If you want to learn more about the historic Dadaocheng area of Taipei, check out this site which is probably the best resource on the Internet with regards to events and historical information: Love, Dadaocheng.

I've also blogged in the past about the Dihua Street Lunar New Year market as well as the Confucius Temple (台北孔廟), Bao-An Temple (保安宮) and Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) which are all within Taipei's Datong District and are a short walking distance from each other.

Back to the wharf - while it may not look the same today as it did in the past but it is still functional and on weekends there are ferries that transport people between Taipei and Danshui on a regular basis. You won't see too many boats going down the river these days but I have heard that the city is developing plans to make the river a more tourist friendly area in the near future!

Apart from being a popular spot for recreational activities, it has become a popular place to view the sunset and faces the skyline of the Sanchong district (三重區) of New Taipei City. Sanchong is developing at a lighting pace due to the price of housing in Taipei city and the skyline is one that changes almost daily. The skyline faces the direction where the sun sets so it is one of Taipei's best places to view the sunset.

The wharf is actually really pretty and catching the sunset there is quite nice, so if you're in the area around that time of the day, check it out. And if you're free the weekend, check out the events. 

Sunset at Gaomei

I have wanted to visit the Gaomei Wetlands (高美濕地) for quite some time and it just so happened that on my way back from my recent trip to Nantou that I had a chance to stop in and check it out just before sunset. 

The problem was that I was completely unprepared and without a tripod and filters for my lenses, there was no way that I was going to get the photos that I’ve always wanted to get there. The wetlands are really beautiful and are really interesting for landscape photographers which is one of the reasons why I've always wanted to visit. 

Not having the proper gear didn’t really deter me though - I think its better sometimes to familiarize myself with a place and visit more than once so I know how to get what I want and what gear I need to bring with me to achieve those goals. 

To that effect I only planned to take a few shots of the beautiful sunset and share it with people. I’ll visit the wetlands again and go into better detail about them then, but I will give a brief introduction to the wetlands right now for people who don't know what they are. 

Gaomei Wetlands

The Gaomei Wetlands are an over 300 hectare protected plot of land along the western coast of Taiwan in the Qingshui (清水) area of Taichung. They are a small part of the much larger Dadu Estuary Wildlife Habitat (大肚溪口野生動物保護區.) The wetlands have a special mix of mud and sand that make it possible for diverse biological habitats of fish, crabs, birds and invertebrates (animals not poiticians).  

The biological diversity and beautiful landscape are what makes the Gaomei wetlands popular with tourists and photographers alike. Tourists can walk down the boardwalk and soak their feet in the water or play on the sand while photographers spend a lot of their time shooting the landscape or using long telephoto lenses to shoot the birds which inhabit the area and feed on the crabs and other culinary delicacies that the wetlands have to offer. 

Children playing

Children playing. 

Part of Gaomei’s landscape includes the massive wind turbines that provide renewable energy to the people of Taiwan. During my most recent visit I noticed that a few of the turbines weren’t working, only to find out later that six of the eighteen turbines were destroyed by Typhoon Souledor and had not yet been repaired. 

Some people consider these turbines to be annoying and an eyesore ruining the beauty of natural landscapes like this, but I happen to like them and I'm never really bothered when they're around. It is easy to get shots of the wetlands however without the turbines crowding up your shot. 

If you plan on visiting Gaomei, be sure to remember to wear sandals (so you can get in the water) and wear a windbreaker as it can be incredibly windy near the coast. If you're a photographer like me, remember a tripod and some natural density filters to get yourself some good shots! 

I'll visit the wetlands again sometime this summer and when I do go, I'll go prepared meaning that the shots will be a lot better than what I'm sharing today! I hope you like what you see anyway.