"This looks pretty straightforward, we mostly follow the main highway North towards the ocean"
I'm not sure what possessed me to say that after our walk from Jiufen to Jinguashi. We started off on the highway but soon found the directions putting us pack on a narrow path, making our way through overgrown residential walkways.
There aren't even construction workers or barking dogs in this neighborhood, though the houses that are still standing are much larger and more Western, decidedly not abandoned. We're nearing late afternoon and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't get dark as early in Taiwan as it does in Korea and also that we don't get turned around.
"As long as we keep walking towards the ocean, we're going the right way" I tell myself. But we're back in the trees now and I have no idea where the ocean went.
The narrow path turns into a clearer brick pathway and that joins back up with the highway. There is definitely nobody else making this walk and very few people driving. At one point a cab even slows and tried to convince us to get in but we're captivated by the river, the strange retaining walls and the view of the ocean. Besides, the winding, pompous grass lined highway reminds me of home and I'm unwilling to give up my momentary peace for a potentially harrowing cab ride.
"Oh, here's a sign"
This walk has been far more straightforward and before we know it we've almost reached our destination. We turn right, thinking we have a bit of a hike to go but then suddenly, there we are at the waterfall, by a turn out in the road.
"Well this is... less golden than I expected"
The mineral deposits supposedly discolor the water so it looks gold but the water is looking pretty water colored to me. I'd read that it also discolors the river and then mixes into the ocean, but I don't think we have time to quite walk all the way to the coast before we'd be walking in the dark.
We sit to eat the rest of our cakes but seemed to have timed our arrival perfectly with that of many cabs and a bus. Soon there are people crowded around our bench taking pictures as we stuff the last of our not quite what we were expecting pastries into our mouth.
"What's that up on the hill?"
"I think it's an abandoned copper smelt. Should we go see if we can walk around?"
"Do you know when the last bus is?"
I look up bus directions and we try to find a sign on the stop telling us when the last bus leaves. Dan thinks it's in the next half hour but we decide to risk it anyways.
We walk under an arch that has seen better days towards the dilapidated buildings but our plans for exploration are stopped short by a sign and a fence. We briefly debate walking up the road next to the fenced off driveway towards the building further up the hill, but we're both anxious about the bus so we settling for trying to get some good pictures before heading back to the waterfall.
"Look! The water in the river is way more golden!"
Now I really want to see how it mixes with the blue of the ocean but we'll have to save that for another trip. A trip where I agree to take the bus or hop in a taxi. I find another larger sign for the bus and it looks like the last one isn't for another two hours but the smaller sign says it only stops once an hour and we don't want to risk missing it, so we sit down and have a wait, hands beginning to stiffen as the sun goes down and the wind picks up. We probably only wait about twenty minutes but our anxiety increases as it gets darker and all the groups of people hop back in their cabs, leaving just us and a roadside vendor in the process of packing up.
We hop on the bus with one other couple and I realize it's just a tourist bus that goes in a loop around all the area attractions. You could probably get to to far more sites in a day than we did but hurrying from site to site isn't really our style and even much later when we get back to our hotel room and I realize my face is hot and windburned, I wouldn't trade our day slipping down hills and stumbling over broken paths for one spent in the relative comfort of a bus.