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2014-11-07

2014年11月2日 北投弘法大師岩 - 軍艦岩 Easy hiking over the hills of Beitou

On the way down from Battleship Rock
久しぶりに気楽なハイキングをした。日曜日の午後、前日からの雨が上がり曇り空のもと、3時間の山歩きだ。日本からの友人を連れてのハイキングであるが、Facebook上のTaipei Hiker Clubにイベントとして紹介しところ、思わぬことに20数名の同行者が集まった。コースそのものは、以前歩いた部分と重なる部分もある。また、参加者には、台湾人以外のメンバーも数名参加した。国籍で言えば数カ国になる。今回も、英語で記述する。

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Easy hike on the hill
If you take a MRT train from Taipei Main Station to the direction of Danshui (淡水) and your train departs Shipai (石牌) Station, you will notice on your right a hill going along the elevated MRT line and can locate such buildings of Yangming University (陽明大學) on the hillside. This is where we hiked this time. This small hill has such peaks of Battelship Rock (軍艦岩) on one side of the hill and points of interest like Kobo Daishi Rock (弘法大師岩) and memorial stone (弘法大師碑) on the other, both of which we visited.

The highest point is just 200m high
My Japanese friend visited Taipei and I planned a short hike on Sunday afternoon for him. I placed my hiking plan on the Facebook, and much more people showed up than I expected. The number of participants turned out be more than twenty. After the activity my friend told me that he enjoyed such company and was glad to talk to them, which made me happy too.

Start from New Beitou MRT Station
The route that we took is in most parts identical to the one I walked two years ago, albeit the opposite direction. We started at New Beitou (新北投) MRT Station and went up to the Kobo Daishi place, which is actually a Buddhist temple. We followed a Taipei City Nature Trail and some small footpaths to the Battleship Rock. From there we went down a small path to RongZong (榮總) Hospital and then walked all the way to MRT Shipai Station. The total activity time is just three hours, covering a little over 5km. It had rained a night before and in the morning, but it did not rain while we hiked in the afternoon. It was pleasant cloudy for walking.

Entrance of the path to Daishi Rock
Although I know that there will be more than ten people to join the hike as the Facebook shows, it still surprises me that such a large number of people coming for the hike. A little after 13:00 we leave the station and go along Guangming Road (光明路). The road gradually ascending along a stream to Rehai Wenquan Hotel (熱海溫泉) and we make right turn and up to Wenquan Road (溫泉路). We go right to the backdoor of Rehai Hotel. There is a stone staircase going up across the Hotel. A yellow high gate stands over the steps and you will not miss it.

Dirt path to the Daishi Rock





We go up the steps and turn left. Then at the end of the small pathway, we turn right and go up another steps. We follow the narrow paved footpath to Dayuansi (大願寺) temple. It is a small house and does not look like other Chinese temples. A dirt footpath starts here. Although grass covers the both sides of the path, stone steps are laid and it indicates that this was once a good path in the past. Only a little more than ten minutes from Wenquan Road we have come to our first stop, Kobo Daishi Rock.

Stone steps remain at the Daishi Rock
There is a huge rock besides a small platform. This place used to be a temple more than several decades ago. A square hole was carved into the rock and sacred items for worship was placed inside the hole. According to the characters inscribed onto the stone beneath the hole, this was made in the year 1910 of the Japanese colonial era with a fund donated by congregate of Shingon (真言宗) sect of Buddhism, one of the influential sects in Japan. Kobo Daishi (in Japanese, or Hongfa Dashi in Chinese pronunciation, lived 784-835)  was a Japanese Buddhist master who created the sect twelve centuries ago. He went to Tang Dynasty China and mastered the religion. After his return to Japan he received high degree of respect from the royal family. His followers believe that he still lives in the cave at Koyashan (高野山) in Japan. Monks of the Koyasan bring food every day to his resting place. This is their tradition that has lasted more than millennium and they are still doing so.

Kobo Daishi Rock and its altar hole
Memorial Stone
A view from the platform, Mt. Zhongzheng is visible
After the defeat of Japan in the last war and its consequent withdrawal from Taiwan,  people no longer made visit here. It became a ruin over decades. Only a decade ago a group of people came and restored it. Now after six decades of negligence, the stone hole is placed again with a Buddha image and other items of worship. It looks that believers come here often and burn incense to pray. There is another hole on the adjacent rock to the Daishi Rock and it also has a Buddha image inside. By the platform stands a stone memorial. It was erected to commemorate the establishment of the temple in 1910. The inscription on the stone face reads such a Japanese poem: Overlooking the bottom of the hill, trees and bushes are there with blossoms, the master's hill up here shines with glory.

Taiwan Happy Stone
One more thing. Just below the platform down by the steps a chunk of stone with a Japanese inscription was recently discovered. The side of the stone with the inscription was faced down so that nobody had discovered for long time. It is assumed that a Japanese leaving Taiwan after the war left his final words on the stone. It says that he wishes happiness to Taiwan forever. So this stone is called Taiwan Happy Stone.

Zhaomingsi Temple




A little after 14:00 we leave for our next stop, ZhaomingSi (照明寺) temple by way of the Nature Trail. We follow a dirt footpath a short while and jump onto a paved trail of the Nature Trail. We walk to the top of the paved trail and turn right to a dirt wide road and come to Zhaomingsi at 14:18. We have a little rest here as there is a restroom in the temple. There are arrays of gold statues near the temple gate. This is a very traditional Chinese temple. If we compared it with the Daishi Rock, the difference is obvious.

Battleship Rock Trail

We start at 14:25 and enter a dirt Nature Trail. It goes up for a few minutes and we come to a junction. One on the left is a Nature Trail going further up. We take a right one and go along the hillside. We follow the level trail, then down a little and up again to the Nature Trail that comes over the hilltop all the way. We make right turn and at 14:50 see the Battleship Rock right in front of us. If we look up from this side, the rock looks like a bow of a big ship, and this is the reason for the name of this Rock. We can go up to the top from either side of the Rock. We take the one on left and climb up to the top.

Battleship Rock
The top of the Rock is a good vantage point; you can see the whole area of Tianmu (天母)  and Shilin (士林) beneath you. Beyond the houses and buildings lay Mt. Jiantan (劍潭山)  and nearby peaks. There are already bunch of hikers on and around the top. We make a rest and members take their pictures.

A very wide view from the top of Battleship Rock 
The path to Rongzhong Hospital
After a long rest of a half hour, we start descending the hill. We take a little-known footpath that goes almost all the way on rock. As we go down, we can see Tianmu just in front of us. We come down to the backyard of Rongzong Hospital and go through the hospital premises to its main gate. Some members take an opposite direction at the gate and the rest of us walk all the way to Shipai Station. We arrive the station around 15:00 and complete the short and easy hiking.

It takes only a couple of hours to complete a walk on the hill trails. The trail condition is pretty good. There are points of interest such as Kobo Daishi Rock and good vantage points like Battleship Rock along the trails. This is recommendable to all hikers regardless of age, sex or experience.

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