Castaways on Penghu Pt. 2

From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics

From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics
From Taiwan Pics

Lucky for us, along our journey, we met several people who spoke pretty good English who were more than willing to help us out. We did manage to get out to Cimei on a ferry where we planned to spend the night and return the following day. Cimei is beautiful! We rented a little scooter and drove around the island in about 30 minutes, and marveled at the steep ragged cliffs, the lush grass that seemed to grow despite the dense rock, and picturesque blue ocean that we could see far off into the distance.

Cimei is also home to the fabled tombs of 7 virgins who killed themselves rather than disgrace their families. Here’s how the story goes: Seven Beauties Tomb, called Da Islet, has a sad but touching legend. In the reign of Jiajing, Ming dynasty, pirates attacked Da Islet, killed people, burnt houses, and robbed money. Not yielding to the pirates, seven virtuous girls jumped into a well. Later, townsmen filled the well up with soil. Before long, seven sweet-flower trees with green leaves and delicate fragrance grew out. Praising their virtue, people set a monument called Seven Beauties Tomb.

Another of our favorite cheesy tourist sights was the Twin Hearts Stone Weir that is an old fish trap in the shape of two hearts and harnesses the rising and falling of tides to trap fish daily.

But nothing could have prepared us for the epic snorkeling of Cimei. I’ve always been bummed to find the disintegration of coral around the world, but I’m happy to report that the coral was absolutely abundant around Cimei. We saw thousands of fish including a really long trumpet fish and some rather strange 7+ft long sea cucumbers that looked like awkward sea snakes.

We managed to find a place to stay at a little Greek style Bed and Breakfast in the tiny town that was right next door to a Vietnamese noodle shop. We made friends with a family staying there and rode around the island and played with their kids, who are the same age as our students. The parents were both teachers and treated us so very kindly! They even took us out for a seafood dinner that night and told us entertaining stories. One of the things that the mom said was that there is a Chinese phrase that says something to the effect of “Treat strangers the same way that you would treat your own family”.

When she told us that, it dawned on me that this summarized all the interactions that we’ve had with people here. They have sincerely and openly welcomed us into their homes and always help us when we’re lost, confused, misunderstood, or anything at all. The next day, we had some major problems getting back to the main island. Apparently people don’t usually stay on Cimei and return on the same boat that they arrive on. All of the boats were full or going to the wrong destination. Just when we thought we were out of options, Aaron managed to befriend an army guy who spoke passable English who was able to finagle each of us a trip back on a small fishing-style boat. We were on separate boats but we met up later at our go-to low budget hotel. Yay!

By Aaron: (written on his ferry ride from Cimei back to Magong).
The Penghu archipelago is one beautiful place. Not very visited from
people outside Taiwan. In fact on the island of chimei we did not see
a single westerner except ourselves. On Thursday afternoon of our trip
we found out that there was no scheduled boat to the main island on
Friday. The problem was we had to get there on Friday. Luckily I had
met Yunam who is serving his military time here. He had already gone
above and beyond his duty helping me find a boat to go fishing on and
then going fishing with me on it because he knew no one else spoke
much English. Friday morning he made it his mission to get Rika and I
to the main island so we could catch our flight Saturday morning. I
think he had to ask quite a few people as no one seemed to have any
room. Finally he found two boats that each had one spot. So as I right
this I just shipped Rika off to sea without me and she had no phone.
We do however have a room booked in the city we are trying to get to
so hopefully we will find each other there. Neither of our boats are
actually going straight to our destination so there is potential for
anything to happen. But we are always up for an adventure. More

So Rika and I both got a sort of layover at an island named Wangan and it
even overlapped for about five minutes before her boat left. So I rented
a motorcycle and checked out this little island while I waited for my
boat to get here. Nice little place but I'm glad we stayed in Cimei. I
think there was more to see and do there and it had a nicer place to stay.
This island is one I'm glad we stopped at because it is famous for the
green sea turtles that nest here and they have a very nice
conservation center about them and the other wildlife that live on
these islands. Also on the scooter I did a couple laps around the
island to check out the sights and the on mountain here that is
fifty-six meters above sea level. So there seems to be some confusion
on what boat I am to be on but I will hopefully get it sorted out.
We'll see when I finally get to Magong.

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