This is the ninth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:
- Time for Taiwan: An Introduction
- 5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei
- Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites
- Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets
- Hiking Elephant Mountain
- Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition
- Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweets Edition
- Heading to Green Island
- Green Island’s Sites
- Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1
- Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Green Island is a beautiful, if strange tourist trap. While there are tons of things to do, there are a lot of “pre-packaged” activities that you gain access to by booking virtually any hotel on the island.
Case in point, thanks to our stay at Jack’s Inn, we had the choice of getting around on a scooter or electric bike (both of which we flubbed). We also had access to a snorkeling excursion or the hot springs.
While I’m normally a huge fan of water sports, the snorkeling on Green Island was weird. Really weird.
What was going on wasn’t apparent to us at first, but we later determined that snorkeling is a led expedition. And by led, I mean you’re basically given snorkel gear and a mandatory life ring and you swim very closely to a other dozen people. Say what?!
Perhaps there were better snorkeling expeditions, but the free one certainly wasn’t for us. Fortunately, there are other things to do on Green Island.
Visiting Green Island’s Historic Prison
Taiwan’s insane 40+ year period of martial law known as the “White Terror” is probably the #1 reason you don’t hear about Taiwan being an excellent tourist destination. Political dissidents were held in prisons all over the country, and I imagine remote islands like the Green Island must have been pretty ideal locations.
Mrs. Selfish and I didn’t know much about the White Terror, prior to our trip to the Green Island. Nevertheless, simply walking around the prison gave us a good idea of just how difficult a time people had here.
Entrance into the prison is cheap (or possibly free, I can’t find any receipts). The prison has been out of use for decades and is rapidly declining. It’s a pretty eerie experience, even in broad daylight.
It’s hard to imagine a government could put away people that disagreed with its principles so en masse, even though it still happens in many countries around the world day. Just another reason to count your blessings if you’re lucky enough to live in the first world.
Green Island Hikes
Even though it was hot enough to cook an egg outside, Mrs. Selfish and I were determined to find some short, scenic hikes. Fortunately, Green Island is full of sweeping vistas and accessible trails. Within minutes of leaving the prison, we parked at the North Eastern part of the island by Niutoy Hill.
The hill was lush. Minus the presence of the ominous guard posts, Niutoy Hill felt like it could have been in Ireland or a Studio Ghibli film.
Next we drove toward the center of the island, to Amei Mountain where we hoped to get a panoramic view of the island.
The “Across Mountain Ancient Trail” had the right distance. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. Once the trail started its descent we decided to abandon it in favor of something with a little more bang for buck value.
Coming back to the main trail we found a small side path up to the top of the hill, which had a small viewing area.
The view was… ok. Not great, not horrible, but certainly not worth the drive. The view of the lighthouse on the way down, however, was totally worth the effort.
Heading to the Zhaori Saltwater Hot springs
To close out the night Mrs. Selfish and I decided to visit Green Island’s Zhaori Saltware Hot Spring resort. Located on the South Eastern side of the island, the hot spring is part man made resort, part natural wonder.
According to the internet, there are only 3 saltwater hot springs in the world. The water is fed from the ocean and then heated by Green Island’s volcanic activity.
I’m a sucker for hot water onsen-styled experience, and this was a pretty good no-frills one. I just wish we had come at a colder time of year!
Join us tomorrow when we high-tail it off of Green Island and head to the Taroko Gorge National Park.