Monday, June 23, 2008

Erliao and Hill 308

Moon World is a classic example of a chalk badlands terrain. In geological terms it comprises highly saline limestone with a sandstone and shale structure, so that in an area of several hundred hectares no plants grow and the highly eroded ground is bare, creating a "lunar" landscape. The area is also interspersed with mudstone strata containing large amounts of natural gas that forces mud out of the ground in "mud volcanoes." In winter, moisture evaporating from the chalk leaves behind patches of powdery white salt crystals on the surface. Well known scenic spots in Moon World include Erliao Pavilion, Hill 308, Mt. Tsao Suspension Bridge, the Crocodile, and the Lion's Head. At Erliao Pavilion at dawn, when the first rays of sunshine fall upon the chalk, moisture starts to evaporate out of it to form mist which shrouds the hills, creating a scene like a Chinese ink-wash painting.

For this dreamy picture, I woke up at 3:00AM and drove about 16km on confusing foggy country roads to Erliao Pavilion where photographers have to bear the fierce mosquito attack and fight for a good spot among a bunch of tripods, and those aren't the only challenges for photoshooting in Erliao. The timing is the trickiest part, it is believed that 2-3 days after a pouring rain during May to September is the best time to make the trip: too much moisture evaporation veils the tiering hills leaving nothing but a white mist in sight; without mist shrouding the hills, the masterpiece of a Chinese ink-wash painting washes away into a barren land.

Hill 308, named after its height above sea level, is famous for its magnificent panorama over a huge area of barren, eroded soil--a Grand Canyon landscape that comprises countless gullies, ravines and peaks. The 308 meters in altitude doesn't diminish the majestic sea of clouds wafting up and down the peaks at dawn, nor make it more easily accessiable.

Sunrise in Erlaio is good practice for High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, whereas Hill 308 is best visited in late afternoon, when the sun brings out the red orange hue of the cliffs. Open Invitation to anyone interested, just send me an email or leave a comment with your contact information, and you can join me (free ride!) the next time I plan to go.

Routes to Erliao and Hill 308

View Erliao and Hill 308 in a larger map

1 comment:

Fz. said...

Hey Hanjie,

I am thinking of going tomorrow…! A little impromptu so if it’s too rushed, maybe Saturday? Anyway I’m a Singaporean backpacker, and Sat’s my last day in Tainan, afterwhich I will move on to Alishan…

Do drop me a msg soon…thanks!!!

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