For most weekenders, the small town of Sanjhih (三芝) is nothing more than a hazy memory along the road to bigger, more well-known places such as White Sand Beach (白沙灣, surely the loveliest beach in north Taiwan) and Cape Fugui (富貴), which combines a fisherman's market (offering delicious seafood lunches) with some wild and panoramic sea views from Taiwan's northernmost point.
Taiwan was ruled by Japan for half a century until the end of World War II. Dozens of splendid examples of architecture from that era can be found in Taipei (台北) and other cities, yet very little evidence of Shinto – the official religion of Japan throughout the colonial period – has survived.
Summer is now in its hottest period with temperatures having reached as high as 35 degree Celsius in the past few days forcing people to find cool places.
Paying a visit to the wonderful Sanmin Bat Cave, which was once one of the best short adventures of northern Taiwan, is a pretty straightforward affair these days, since the local authorities, seeking to open this imposing natural curiosity to everyone, changed the route of the access trail to the cavern, bypassing a long wade up the slippery stream bed, and the steep descent and ascent (with fixed ropes) of several rock faces.
While there are many large tourist destinations that everyone wants to go to, some smaller ones are well worth seeing if one has access to a car and some time for a daytrip.
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Considering their location right beside a drivable road and that the many cool, shady spots in the glen below the falls are just made for relaxing on a hot summer day, it's a big surprise to find that the beautiful Chiedong Waterfalls (茄苳瀑布), in the hills above the Taipei County town of Xichi (汐止) haven't become a popular summer destination, as I've never seen more than a couple of other persons each of the many times I've paused at this lovely spot through the years.
One of Taiwan's largest lagoons, Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣) has been earmarked for development into a major tourist resort since the late 1990s.
The Yakou Tunnel (啞口隧道) is the middle point of the Southern Cross-Island Highway and it is also the highest point of the highway at 2,722 meters above sea level.
Of all the satellite towns surrounding Taipei City, Xichi (汐止), which is to the east of the metropolis and located on the road towards Keelung (基隆), has undoubtedly received the worst press.
There's a spot about twenty minutes' walk from the entrance of Manyueyuan National Forest Recreation Area (滿月園國家森林遊樂區) where (unless the weather is misty) almost all visitors to the park seem to stop walking for a moment, admire the sudden and impressive vista that opens up for a few brief moments, and take a photo of the arresting scene laid out in front.