Little Liuqiu Island

August 22, 2012 at 5:00 am | Posted in outdoors, Taiwan | Leave a comment
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As the owner of the hotel opened the door to our room, we couldn’t do anything but laugh. The entire floor space was taken up with four floral-patterned mattresses laid side by side. It wasn’t even really a hotel. It was more like a block of houses which rented by the room and provided a home-made breakfast.

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But it didn’t matter. We hadn’t come to Little Liuqiu to spend our time in a hotel. We’d come, like all the other tourists on this holiday weekend, to enjoy the seaside. But, unlike everyone else, we barely spoke a word of Chinese and this made it all more of a challenge.

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On the terrace outside, the steps to the shallow beach were pointed out and an offer of snorkeling plus free DVD was given. We had other plans. With jerky movements, we managed to back our rented scooters out of their cramped lots. Helmets on and cameras in our bags, we began riding.

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Our destination was anywhere that looked good. We stopped to pose by Vase Rock. We snapped pictures of unknown temples as we sped past. We bought squid balls on a stick and ate them with bubble tea while we wandered past souvenir shops selling jokey T-shirts and sequined baseball caps. Some other tourists took pictures with us, complimenting our pale skin. We crawled on hands and knees through Black Dwarf Cave and wandered through the jungle foliage of Wild Boar Ditch. We laughed at the college girls trying to get a family of stray cats to pose for a photo, then tried to do the same.

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The island was only 6.8 square kilometres and we must have circled it a few times during the two days we were there. But we kept riding. Kept being cooled by the wind whooshing against our bare legs and arms. Kept feeling the thrum of the scooter. Kept trying to straighten our hair for the five minutes of freedom it would have before a helmet was plonked back on it.

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Somewhere, amongst our stops and starts, along a road that led from somewhere to somewhere but which we hadn’t a clue about, we saw a sign. A sign for a beach. So we turned right.

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Scooters and cars were parked haphazardly along the small lane, so we dismounted and took the first free space. The road ahead became a rough concrete ramp leading into dirty sand. But as the ferns and banana trees to our right began to thin, we saw the beach; a mile or so of pale, shelly sand. Two huge chunks of fossilized coral sat randomly, creating shade for people to sit in and nooks for holding possessions while their owners waded in the grey-blue water.

We slipped off our flip flops and clothes and left them in a pile, our cameras hidden inside it. Then we ran, all four of us, towards the small waves.

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