相遇‧風林火山

北海岸騎遇記
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2019 / 7月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林格立


與台北城不過近在咫尺的北海岸,萬千年來歷經多次的造山運動與火山活動,海浪與海風的細細雕琢,讓一路曲折多變,不僅沙岸與岩岸相互錯落,奇岩怪石壘壘而立,猶如台灣頂端的皇冠,鑲嵌著滿滿的珍寶。這一回的騎行特輯,我們隨著單車騎士踏入這個上帝大顯神蹟的舞台,共同見證驚奇與不朽。


天剛破曉,當多數人還在睡夢中,單車騎士早已精神抖擻、整裝待發,他們在台北城的邊緣、台2線的起點──紅樹林捷運站集合,趁著車流不多,陽光也還不毒辣,蓄勢待發要來一趟北岸的小旅行。

南國風情水岸

傳聞有肖似墾丁的淺水灣,是旅路上的第一個景點。沙灘在地表劃出新月一般的優雅弧線,當地的砂礫礦物質豐富,金澄的礦砂裡還藏著點點鏽鐵色的鐵砂,是此地的特色。

海域寬闊的淺水灣,不僅深受當地人喜愛,也是遊客欽點的戲水勝地,然而,北海岸及觀音山國家風景區管理處導覽志工、世居金山的張瑞松告訴我們,在戲水以前務先學會讀懂海的表情。

原來,北海岸常可見「離岸流」的情形,這種又被稱之為「隱形殺手」的特殊海象,從海面上看起來風平浪靜,水面底下卻是從岸邊急湧到外海的湍急水流,遊客若缺乏知識,隨著浪潮越游越遠,一旦想逆流回到岸上,卻難與之抗衡,最後造成體力透支,就此溺斃,就連教育部也積極在當地的校園中加強宣導,唯恐學生趁著假日戲水,卻意外釀成悲劇。

踏浪戲水之餘,若是不耐太陽曝曬,海岸線上也有不少海景咖啡屋可放空發呆,不知不覺待到了向晚,只見火紅的夕陽掉進木麻黃的林葉間,樹影搖曳,乍看下還真有幾分南國風情。

聆聽風與石謳歌

從紅樹林捷運站起迄,到三芝、台2線與中興街交叉處的便利商店,這16公里路程不過是個暖身操,運動教練游昌憲說,這是車友們口中所謂的「放行點」,「過了這裡就沒在管紅綠燈了。」他們在此稍作休息,補充水分、熱量,海線騎行才算正式揭幕。

繼續沿著台2線前進,迎來了北海岸的第一個岬角──麟山鼻。窄仄的鼻梁伸入台灣海峽,這是源於80萬年前,大屯火山群爆發後所遺留的傑作。

位於台2線23公里處的麟山鼻遊憩區迎來了旅途的高潮。拐入一旁的小徑,來到位於盡頭的麟山鼻漁港,從這裡向海的方向眺望,右手處是綠樹掩映的麟山鼻步道。

在這裡,除了可見到海濱常見的黃槿、姑婆芋、月桃、濱當歸、羊蹄、海檬果、石板菜等植物,另外由火山所留下的深灰色火成岩,因著長年累月海浪的拍打,加上強勁的東北季風吹拂,形成了被稱為「風稜石」的特殊地質,「與一般石頭不一樣,面大,又多,面與面之間有稜,稜與稜之交又有角,因此得名。」張瑞松告訴我們。然而舉目之間,又見山壁間幾株高聳的榕樹,竟將碩大的石塊緊緊盤握,形勢穩如泰山,讓人驚嘆著自然恆毅的力量。

至於港口另一側的海灘,則是另一番風景。左手處的腳踏車木棧道全長逾十公里,因著可一路連結至三芝,因而名為「風芝門」,在風芝門鄰近,兩枚體積碩大、爬滿綠色植物的藻礁,暗示出了此處的特殊景觀。

這種由藻類死亡以後鈣化形成的礁體,生長速度一年不過一公分,舉目可見的巨型藻礁,彌足珍貴,然而由於麟山鼻漁港的興建,多少波及當地生態,這幾塊擱淺在岸上的藻礁,推測是彼時興建港口時所特別留下的。

幸而等到潮水退去,潮間帶上仍裸露出大片藻礁,這些幸而留存下來的自然遺產,每到春季,潮汐拍打之際便浸染了點點綠意,原來是被稱為石蓴的綠藻。雖說石蓴可食用,甚至是中藥材的一種,「但現代人嘴刁,嫌這種植物吃起來腥味太重啦。」張瑞松說,他回憶起過往農業時代的生活,當地人甚至採集了拿去飼豬。

至於風芝門起始,可一路通往三芝的木棧道,這可不是一條簡單的濱海小徑,除了曾經被周杰倫相中,用來拍攝〈不能說的祕密〉的MV,也是車友口耳相傳用以迴避長上坡的小路,記得回程時從此處切入,享受一趟鄉野小徑的騎行,最後會再從一般公路上切出,回到台2線。

整個海濱,都是我的練習場

在前往下一個岬角以前,咱們先行路過了白沙灣,此為麟山鼻與富貴角合抱的海域,與淺水灣截然不同風情,亮白色的貝殼砂,顯得海域格外澄淨。張瑞松說,此地在日治時代更是日本人格外喜愛戲水踏浪的地方。

游昌憲指給了我們另一處車友喜愛的私房點,就在海岸邊的朱舍農莊。北海岸名人匯集,除了三芝名人文物館裡頭展示的李登輝、江文也、盧修一、杜聰明等人,另有書畫家朱振南,「朱舍」望名即知源於朱姓人家,而此地的經營者便是朱振南的親族。

農莊雖然極簡至極,甚至不提供餐飲服務,只供應烤肉用具、茶具的空間,但因著享有地利之便,加上環境綠蔭叢叢,炎炎夏日也相當清涼,是許多車友口耳相傳的景點。大夥兒先向農莊預約,攜家帶眷來此,事先備好食材,讓家人悠悠哉哉地烤肉、泡茶、聊天,他們只消把單車停妥在農莊內,還可快速換裝,一路以跑馬拉松的態勢跑至鄰近的富貴角燈塔再折回,來回恰好約是三公里,甚至到鄰近海域下海游泳。守著這一處基地,整個海濱都成了三鐵練習場。

萬千年來不曾改變過

這一路的單車騎行,除了遍覽名勝風光,也別忘品嚐當地的特色小吃。北海岸流行的肉粽,因著當地的廟宇──十八王公廟而起,祭祀有應公的廟宇據聞在夜晚格外靈驗,甚至有南部人在下班後連夜趕來,天亮前再趕回去,而為了迢迢車程飲食上的方便,風行起另類的伴手禮。從最早的劉家肉粽開始,漸次累積了名氣,另外有俞家、陳家也競相崛起,如今許多遊客就算不上香拜拜,也指名要來一顆,嚐嚐這聲名遠播的滋味。

離開富貴角以後,騎行進入了尾聲,咱們拜訪了在燈塔不遠處的老梅綠石槽。這一奇景,是過去大屯火山噴發以後造成的傑作,由於長期在海邊任憑海水沖刷,鬆軟處被逐一侵蝕,只留下了堅硬、凹凸不平的溝槽,恰逢此時正是春季、藻類蓬勃生長的季節,讓這片綿延長達一公里的海岸線,被染成了茵茵的碧綠。站在海岸線上,聽著規律的浪聲由遠而近,只見浪花從溝槽的裂縫中噴射出,猶如小型噴泉。

天工造物不僅如此,石門的另一重要景點,是從深海中抬升而起、高達十公尺的巨大石頭拱門,石拱上頭層層疊疊著各種地質紋理,細滑、粗礪、砂礫、圓石,質地與組成不一,這裡是當地人的重要地標,也是「石門」被稱之為「石門」的來由。

「小時候看就是這樣了,現在看也是這樣,從來沒有變過。」張瑞松不無驚嘆地說。然而,時代嬗遞,即便石門依舊文風不動,周遭的環境卻在悄然間改變,仔細一看,原本理當充滿螺貝、貝殼沙的海灘,不僅螺貝早已不見蹤跡,細沙中甚至夾雜著許多細碎的塑膠垃圾,令人不甚唏噓。

這一趟騎行的終站是名稱幾經更易的沙珠灣。然而稱為「沙珠灣」也罷,或者早先被命名的「中角」也好,張瑞松說,這裡在老一輩的當地人口中其實稱作「罟寮」。這是由於小時靠海吃海的人們,在海岸線上因陋就簡蓋了收納漁網用的罟寮,因得其名。然而如今不僅傳統的牽罟漁法早已不復見,近海的漁源也將近枯竭,罕見漁船出沒,過去聽著海螺指示,一同抬著漁船出海、牽罟,已是塵封往事。

但不論罟寮、中角或沙珠灣,站在這海天一色之間應能多少領悟,相較於自然的尺度與規模,人生如蜉蝣,名相無須過度執著,畢竟當我們以如此輕巧的形式穿越過大地,也瞭解了人文遞變也不過百年之譜,然而所經過、所踩踏的,卻是幾近永恆的大地,更多的崇敬與謙卑也從心而生。                                           

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EN

Taiwan's Jeweled Crown

Cycling the North Coast

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Not far from Taipei City, Taiwan’s North Coast has been shaped over the millennia by orogeny and volcanic activity, as well as erosion wrought by ocean waves and wind. That combination has made for a winding coastline, varied and intermixed geologic strata, and marvelously shaped rocks. Like a crown atop Taiwan that is inlaid with many jewels, the North Coast makes for a special cycling experience. Let us follow some cyc­lists as they pedal through this realm filled with God’s marvelous creations, witnessing together its strange and timeless wonders.


Just after sunrise, when most people are still asleep in their beds, some cyclists have already got their gear together in preparation for a two-wheeled journey. They gather at the Hong­shu­lin Metro station at the edge of Tai­pei City, near the starting point of Taiwan Provincial Highway 2. Taking advantage of the light traffic and the hours before the sun grows fierce, they set out on a short journey along the North Coast.

Subtropical coastline

Said to resemble southern Taiwan’s Kenting, Qianshui Bay has a beach with the elegant arc of a crescent moon. It is the first scenic spot on the journey. One notable feature: Thanks to abundant mineral content, the golden sands here also contain flecks of darker-­colored iron ore.

Much loved by locals, the wide beach also attracts travelers to come play in the water. Yet ­Zhang Rui­song, a volunteer tour guide for the North Coast and Guan­yin­shan National Scenic Area Administration and a resident of Jin­shan, urges would-be swimmers to first study the mood of the sea before going in.

Rip currents are a frequent occurrence along the North Coast. Often called a “silent killer,” a rip current is a coastal phenomenon whereby the water appears calm but there is a strong surface flow pulling rapidly out to sea. Without awareness of the rip current, swimmers can quickly be carried far from shore. Then, when they decide to turn around and head back, they may find it hard to resist the pull of the current, exhausting themselves in the struggle and eventually drowning. Consequently, the Ministry of Education has increased its information efforts in local schools to prevent tragedy when students head to the beach on vacation days.

The sound of the wind

Advancing farther along Highway 2, one comes to the first cape along the North Coast: Linshanbi. A remnant of an eruption of the Datun volcano group some 800,000 years ago, this narrow peninsula is a masterpiece of nature extending out into the Taiwan Strait.

The Linshanbi Recreation Area, located at the highway’s 23 kilometer marker, is a highlight of the journey. A small path next to it leads to the Lin­shanbi fishing harbor. When you look out to sea, the tree-lined Lin­shanbi Trail is on your right.

Here one finds many common coastal plants, such as sea hibiscus, night-scented lily, shell ginger, Angelica hirsuti­flora, Japanese dock, sea mango, and Sedum formosanum, as well as dark gray igneous rocks formed by volcanic eruptions. The long exposure to ocean waves and the harsh northeasterly monsoon winds has created “venti­facts,” which are wind-cut rocks. “They are quite unlike other rocks,” ­Zhang explains. “They have large, multiple faces, with ridged edges between the faces and corners where the edges meet—hence their Chinese name: ‘wind edge stone.’” 

The beach on the other side of the harbor offers a different kind of scene. To the left, the cycling boardwalk extends 10 km. Because it connects San­zhi with Shi­men, it is called the Feng­zhi­men Boardwalk, with feng meaning “wind,” and zhi and men being the same characters as are found in those place names. Nearby are two large algal reefs covered with green algae that provide truly special scenery.

Formed by the deposition of calcareous material from the cells of algae and growing at a rate of under one centimeter per year, these giant algal reefs are precious natural features. Yet, construction of the Lin­shan­bi fishing harbor has damaged their ecologies to some degree—despite attempts to leave the reefs undisturbed during construction.

When the tide pulls out, you can see large expanses of exposed reef in the intertidal zone. During springtime, these treasures of our nat­ural inheritance appear almost to be dyed green in places, at the spots where sea lettuce, a kind of green algae, grows. Although sea lettuce is edible and even an ingredient used in Chinese herbal medicines, “to modern people its flavor is too fishy,” says ­Zhang. He notes that back when Taiwan was largely an agricultural society, locals would gather the algae to feed to pigs.

The wooden boardwalk provides a simple coastal path to head toward San­zhi. Jay Chou’s music video “Secret” was filmed here. By word of mouth, cyclists have learned to take this route on their return to avoid having to pedal uphill, and to be able to enjoy cycling in more wild environs. Eventually, the route connects to regular roads that lead back to Highway 2.

Coast as training ground

Before we hit the next cape, we first pass Bai­sha Bay. Embraced by Lin­shanbi on one side and Cape Fu­gui on the other, the beach offers distinctly different scenery from Qian­shui Bay. Featuring bright white sand from crushed shells, it has exceptionally clear water. According to ­Zhang, it was a favorite beach of the Japanese during the colonial era.

Max Yu, who is a fitness trainer, divulges another secret spot along the coast for cyclists: the Chu­she Farm. Nearby, a few kilometers inland, the San­zhi Visitor Center and Gallery celebrates famous native sons such as former ROC president Lee Teng-hui, composer ­Chiang Wen-yeh, legislator Lu Hsiu-yi and medical educator Tu Tsung-­ming. Another famous local was the painter Chu Chen-nan, whose family runs the Chu­she Farm.

Its facilities are basic, and the farm doesn’t even sell food of any kind. It only provides equipment for grilling meat and making tea. Although the scope of service is limited, the lush green environment is pleasant, and it’s relatively cool here on a hot summer’s day. Consequently, the farm has acquired a good reputation among cyclists, who make reservations here ahead of time and come with the whole family. The families need only bring food and then relax as they grill meat, make tea, and chat. Meanwhile, the cyclists can park their bikes, change into their running gear, and jog the three kilometers to the Cape Fugui Lighthouse and back. They can even take a swim in the ocean. The coast thus becomes a training ground for triathletes.

Unchanged after millions of years

When you make this cycling trip, apart from taking in the famous sights, don’t forget to try some of the special local snacks. The North Coast’s popular meat zongzi stalls have earned fame thanks to the local 18 Kings Temple, which attracts crowds at night, when its deities are thought to be particularly efficacious in answering prayers. Even people from southern Taiwan rush to drive all the way here after work, and then rush back before dawn. The Liu family’s zongzi proved popular since they are easy to eat in one’s car on the way home, and also make good gifts. The Yu and Chen families then followed suit with zongzi of their own. Nowadays some people come just for the famous zongzi and never even visit the temple at all.

Leaving Cape Fugui, riders enter the tail end of the trip. We visit the Laomei Algal Reef not far from the lighthouse. The strange scene is a result of ancient eruptions of the now dead Datun volcano. Long battered by ocean waves, the softest parts were eroded away, leaving only the hardest bits and creating an uneven surface of troughs and ridges. We visit in springtime, the peak season for algal growth, when a kilometer-­long section of the coast here shimmers with green. Looking out at the reef, one hears the rhythmic sound of the waves and sees the surf crashing amid the reef’s crevices, creating spouts of water that look like small geysers.

Heaven’s handiwork doesn’t end here: Another ­important sight at Shimen is the massive ten-meter-high rock arch that seems to rise out of the deep sea. The stone arch, which reveals a variety of geological strata, is why Shimen (which means “stone gate”) got its name.

Yet time has brought change. Even if this stone feature remains sturdy and upright, the surrounding environment has been transforming. Look carefully and you see that the conch shells that used to be littered across the beach have all but disappeared. Instead, one now sees a lot of plastic shreds amid the fine sand. It is altogether disheartening.

The final destination of this cycling trip is Sha­zhu Bay, whose name has changed several times. Some used to call it Zhong­jiao, but older generations of locals have always known it as Gu­liao (“net shack”). That’s because back when these old-timers were little, everyone hereabouts wrested their living from the sea, and people would build improvised shacks to store their fishing nets. Yet the traditional fishing life has disappeared hereabouts as the old communal fishing method of beach seining has passed into memory and inshore fish stocks have grown severely depleted. Hearing blows from a conch as people carried a boat and seine net into the water is a thing of the past.

Whether you call it Gu­liao, Zhong­jiao, or Sha­zhu Bay, standing here and looking out at where the blue sky merges into the blue sea, you gain a sense that human life, by nature’s yardstick, is nearly as fleeting as a mayfly’s. Persistent attachment is foolhardy. By treading lightly across the land and understanding that our lives are but a century at most whereas these landscapes are eternal, we will gain greater reverence and humility.                    

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