#LDlifehacks: Getting to Long Dong

Most people who have been commuting from Taipei to Long Dong will be well-acquainted with the Kuokuang Long Distance Bus 1811 & 1812. They runs five times daily departing from Taipei Main Station and terminate in Yilan.

Departure time at Taipei Main Station (exact location here):

1811 – 8:50, 17:40, 20:20
1812 – 14:20

So what happens if the buses are full, or you miss your bus?

Here are two alternatives for you to consider:

Option 1: Take TRA Train to Keelung & transfer to Bus 791

  1. Walk to Bus Stop “Keelung Station (Renxiang Clinic)” (exact location here)
  2. Take Bus 791 towards Fulong (福隆)*, travel time: approx. 45min
  3. Get off at Longdonggang stop (龍洞港) – closest bus stop to School Gate

Bus 791
Estimated arrival time at Keelung Train Station (Renxiang Clinic)

Weekdays

Sat, Sun & National Holidays

5:00

5:20

5:20

5:50

5:55

6:30

6:30

7:40

7:10

8:45

7:41

9:25

8:30

9:50

9:12

10:30

10:12

11:08

11:12

11:50

12:12

12:30

13:10

13:10

14:08

13:50

14:52

14:32

15:38

15:08

16:40

16:17

17:10

17:17

18:13

18:13

19:17

19:17

20:12

20:12

21:40

21:40

*Time of arrival at bus stop estimated from official bus schedule here

Reminder:
Make sure you’re taking 791 towards Fulong, NOT 791 towards “Country Xincheng” (國家新城)!



Option 2: Take TRA Train 
to Rueifang & transfer to Bus 856

Take the TRA train to Rueifang Train Station, the closest train station to LD, then hop onto the Golden Fulong Shuttle Bus 856.

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Train schedule from Taipei Main Station to Rueifang Train Station from 6am to 8am (https://www.railway.gov.tw/en/index.aspx)

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Bus 856 weekend schedule, including national holidays (http://www.gold-fulong.com.tw/en/Default.aspx)

The first bus departs Ruifang at 8am, goes up to the mountains to Jiufen before it hits the coast at Yiyang Sea (yes the bay with contrasting hues of blue and yellow, resembling the Yin & Yang symbol ☯️) and continues on the Coastal Highway towards LD.

The great news is Bus 856 now stops at Longdonggang stop (龍洞港), the closest bus stop to School Gate parking since August 2017. The bus schedules above are not updated with the new bus stop addition but Longdonggang is in between LD Bay Ocean Park and LD Four Seasons Bay.

The entire bus ride from Ruifang to Longdonggang takes about 40min. The bus comes every 30min on weekends, and every hour on weekdays. A pretty good option if you want to get some breakfast or pack lunch from Ruifang before making your way to the crags. Ruifang has a quite a bustling day market scene, more on that in future posts 😉

Reminders:

  1. It is recommended that you take this option only when you’re taking Bus 856 before 10am. The traffic towards Jiufen through the mountains could be crazy with tour coaches and tourists who usually turn up around late morning!
  2. To get to LD/Jiufen, board Bus 856 at Bus Stop B (see map below). This is NOT the bus stop (Bus Stop A) right in front of the train station.
856 bus stop

Get on Bus 856 from Bus Stop B

#LDlifehacks: The Weather

Let’s put it that way – unless you’re at LD over the summer, the weather could be sometimes, how do we put it, iffy? And it doesn’t help that the weather forecast is not extremely accurate and at its best, quoting from a local friend, “just for reference”. However, there are still some useful cues from the local weather forecast’s website, giving us a better idea of the weather.

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Type B fun 😀

1. Check the weather forecast for Longdong Park South Entrance on the Central Weather Bureau’s official website (https://www.cwb.gov.tw/V7e/forecast/entertainment/other/A014.htm#)

No the weather forecast for Taipei, Keelung, Ruifang or even Gongliao (the district where LD is) are not good enough. In fact, after staying along the coast for a while, we learn that the weather in Taipei and LD are many times coincidentally, opposites. There are many occasions when hopeful friends from Taipei turn up at LD having to turn back because it’s raining, or days when it is “send conditions”, and there’s almost no one around (not that we’re complaining!). We noticed this during our times staying in different home-stays along the coast, and this is exactly the reason why we decided to stay close to LD – because the best way to tell, is to look out of the window! The beauty of being close to LD is, when you spend less time commuting, you earn more time climbing 😉

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Weather forecast for Longdong South Entrance (https://www.cwb.gov.tw/V7e/forecast/entertainment/other/A014.htm#)

2. Check the radar display for current rain intensity

The weather forecast provides information on wind direction and it helps heaps to know if the wind is bringing more rain clouds or blowing them away.

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Noooooooooooooo…

3. Check the road surveillance cameras for live updates

It seems like access to the camera footage is restricted to the Chinese version on the CWB website so here are the links below! We suggest looking at these two cameras closest to Longdong:

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Step 1: Click on 瑞芳區 (Ruifang District)

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Step 2: Select 台2 北濱海公路/南雅路到南雅路/鼻頭路 (third last from the bottom)

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Step 1: Select 貢寮區 (Gongliao District)

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Step 2: Select 台2 88K+150 到 91K+000 (fifth from the top)

One camera to the north and the other to the south of LD, so this should give you a good idea of how the actual weather is. Just to get an affirmation before making the commitment to head out here 😉

Some reminders:

1. Do take note of the Plum Rain Rainy Season and of course, the typhoon season, which typically take place in May and August/September respectively. Having said that the global climate is changing and these events do span over a month before or after.

2. It’s a good idea to plan for an extended trip in Taiwan if you would like to climb at LD! This gives you flexibility to shift your itinerary and turn up for climbing when the weather has cleared up.

Regardless the weather, there’re crags which stay relatively dry on rainy days. Or if you’re looking for an active wet weather program, the region has much to offer too. We’ll share this in a separate post 😉

Rock on!

#LDlifehacks: The Taiwan Bus App

Don’t travel around Taiwan without the Taiwan Bus App! Although named as a “bus app”, the application provides useful information for various modes of transport islandwide from time schedules of the MRT, railway trains and buses to the actual quantity of U-bikes at a specific location. And the most important thing is, it is finally available in English! C-O-O-L!

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Introducing the Taiwan Bus App

There are no U-bike stations around Long Dong (I’ve seen some random bikes lying along the coast somehow), but LD is easily accessible by buses, directly from Taipei or from train stations like Ruifang & Keelung. Read more about getting to LD from Ruifang from my previous post here.

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Buses that I have saved, basically all the buses that come to our village!

The Taiwan Bus App gives real time of bus arrivals, reducing waiting time and enabling us to manage time more efficiently. It works only on mobiles with data, or where you can get wifi, and I personally feel that it’s worth getting data for this purpose (unless you decide to hitch-hike, which is totally cool too!).

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Bus arrivals in real time. Nice!

Longdong Port or Longdonggang stop (龍洞港) is the closest bus stop to the North Parking Area, the parking before School Gate. Cross the road, take the flight of stairs down to the back of the Ho-Mei Village (和美村) and keep walking along the driveway towards Ho-Mei Elementary School (和美國小). This is the most common way climbers take to go climbing at School Gate and beyond, even all up to Second Cave.

To get to Golden Valley and Back Door, take the Long Dong Cape Bay Trail (龍洞岬灣步道) which begins at the side of Ho-Mei Elementary School. The trail is paved with stoned steps and you will find yourself gaining elevation and end up at the top of the crags (awesome view!). After passing two vista points, walk another 100 to 200m and you’ll see a dirt trail on your left that leads you down to the coast. The trail has a clear path but may be hidden in the bushes. You will find warning signs of seasonal “Freak Waves (瘋狗浪)” at the start of this trail. This is the same way fishermen take to get to the coast.

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Freaky freak waves!

To go to Back Door, walk to the end of the paved trail and it will lead you to the South Parking Area which is equipped with restrooms. You will see another vista point, go around it and make your way down with care.

For climbers who are going to LD from Keelung and Bivy, Bus 791 brings you to both Longdong Port or Longdonggang stop and Fozu Temple stop, which actually refers to Hsilingyan Temple (西靈巖寺)at the South Parking Area. The bus stop is just 5 min away from the parking, a fast and convenient way to get to Golden Valley and Back Door.

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Download The Taiwan Bus App for free at https://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/taiwan-bus/id1163101845?l=en&mt=8. It seems like it is currently available only for iPhones, let me know if you find anything else!

Some reminders:

  1. At times you may notice the next bus timing suddenly “disappear”, and the bus app shows the arrival time for the next bus (in 98min time!). Calm down and take a deep breath, chances are there are some hiccups in the system and the bus will still turn up at the same timing you noted.
  2. Press the bell early before you alight. The buses go really quick and you don’t want to miss your stop!

P.S. For guests staying at The Bivy, if you would like to see more of the surrounding, it is entirely possible to walk to LD! There is a walkway along the coast and from The Bivy it takes about 30min to get to North Parking Area. At times you may find our doggie Chongchong following you, she knows LD pretty well and could possibly show you the way 😉

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Introducing Chongchong, The Bivy’s greeter & security/bouncer

Being Alien Residents at Long Dong

It all began with a book that Matt sent to Qx in 2007, a guidebook of Long Dong that he had written. It took us three years when we finally decided to make our way there in December 2010.

With the help of Huzi (鬍子) who we had met at a climbing event in Singapore, we hopped onto his van in Taipei and made our way to Long Dong. As we got onto the Coastal Highway, the view of the winding coastline and crashing waves in the vast and open Pacific Ocean welcomed us. The drive along the Coastal Highway remains as one of our favorite parts of the entire experience going to, and now, living around Long Dong. It gives us an ironic sense of peace and thrill.

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Taking our first ride on the Coastal Highway

Since then, we found ourselves returning to this place year after year, staying in different villages and small towns around LD. Enchanted by the simple and local lifestyle of living in a fishing village, supported by some basic amenities, and a close enough proximity to LD, we finally decided to set up our second home, The Bivy in Bitoujiao in May 2015.

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The house as we found it

Where is Bitoujiao (鼻頭角)?

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Bitou Cape as seen from Long Dong

Bitoujiao (or Bitou Cape, Bitou referring to the tip of the nose literally) is a quiet and quaint little fishing village, inhabited by less than 80 people, about 2km away from LD. Bitou Cape, alongside Fugui Cape and Sandiago Cape, the northernmost and easternmost points of the island respectively, are the three main capes that provide a beautiful spectacle of the coastline in Northern Taiwan. In Bitoujiao, residents are generally either 50 years and above or young children, and the village thrives on fishing, recreation and tourism for a living. Our neighbours are really warm and kind people, making us feel welcome and well-integrated in the community. It certainly helps that we speak Mandarin, understand a wee bit of Taiwanese and perhaps don’t stand out too much on the outlook. Living here all this while makes us realize we are so fortunate to get to enjoy nature, quietness, clean air, good spring water, small catches of fresh seafood and seaweed and other local produce.

As for every climbing destination we head to, we believe in staying put at a place long enough to truly enjoy its climbing and the lifestyle of just being there. Living in Bitoujiao for four years now, we have picked up some tips and tricks about living and getting around, and many other things LD and its proximities offer. With this, we are happy to announce that we’re publishing what we have learnt through a series of #LDlifehacks on our FB page and website every month. We hope this will serve as useful information for all climbers and visitors to know and enjoy Long Dong better.

Look out for updates and safe climbs peeps!

Live an Adventure,
Qx, Kelly & Chong Chong (The Bivy Dog)

Qx and Kelly are rock climbers and AMGA certified instructors.
Chong Chong is The Bivy’s crag dog, ie greeter/security guard/trainee porter.
We love rock climbing.