Though properly pronounced as “low-ng doe-ng,” the northern Taiwanese city of Long Dong is much more fun to refer to as “long dong.”
Come on, cut me some slack…it’s a funny combination of letters and you know it.
Anyway, Long Dong is a coastal area on the northern tip of Taiwan that’s popular among scuba divers, climbers and hikers alike. It’s a bit of a ways outside of Taipei and you can only get there by bus (or taxi if you feel like dropping your life savings on a car ride), but its crystal-clear, swimmable waters make up for its inaccessibility.
My trip to the area two Sundays ago can be summed up by three s-words: sweat, sunburns, and stinging body parts. Intrigued yet?
This section refers to the mission of finding the cliff-jumping spot in Long Dong that I had eyed online a few days prior. The theme of this mission was, you guessed it: sweat. Lots and lots of it.
To start, getting to Long Dong itself was difficult – the 8:20 am bus straight there that we sprinted to make was full before we could buy tickets, so we were forced to go on a bus to Keelung and then figure out a way to Long Dong from there. Once in Keelung, we had to decide: do we get to Long Dong in a taxi driven by the most persistent, annoying cabbie ever? Take a train and another bus? Thanks to a few inquisitive friends, we found out there was one bus (the 791, to be exact), that would take us to Long Dong directly from Keelung.
Phew, right? Wrong. The frantic sweats had only just begun.
Long story short, once in the general Long Dong area, we got off on the wrong stop on the bus, forcing us to wait for another 791 to pass by and board again. After getting off at what we thought was the right stop the second time around, the cliff-jumping cove was still nowhere in sight. (Note to self: Never rely on vague directions pulled from a random blog to get to secret spots.) We ended up embarking on a steep, stair-filled hike and just about gave up on our dreams of cliff jumping before I spotted the cove in the distance. Frustrated, tired and quickly soaking through our clothes, this discovery gave us some renewed hope and we continued walking, praying that we would somehow end up at the bottom of the cliff where everyone else was. Spoiler alert: we made it. I was nearly dead upon arrival (the last 15 minutes trekking up and down rocks was not kind to me), but it didn’t matter. Our perseverance had paid off!
I arrived in Long Dong with every intention of being sun-safe and responsible. It’s just that the face sunscreen I had applied at 7 am had melted off by the time I made it to the water. And when I tried to lather sunscreen on the rest of my body after my initial cool-down swim, I was wet, too lazy to dry myself off and in the mood for poor decision making. So sunscreen application didn’t really happen. Not good sunscreen application, anyway.
Don’t fret, skincare enthusiasts. I learned my lesson. On the way back to Taipei, my friends couldn’t stop laughing at the tragic (albeit funny) state of my face, and I literally took to covering my shoulders with my towel because I was so embarrassed by my lobster-lookalike status. I’ve currently recovered to a more normal shade, but my nose and back are peeling, and it’s really just not a sexy look. Never, ever again.
Stinging Body Parts
The aforementioned struggles were worth it for the very reason we went to Long Dong in the first place: to cliff jump. The secret little cove where everyone swims, snorkels and jumps was everything I’d hoped for and more. Though it would’ve been nice to have swim shoes (everyone else had them) to protect us from barnacles and snorkels to get an even better look underwater, I couldn’t complain. It was too beautiful, too fun, too lively to not be having a good time. And the cliff jumping opportunities made it that much more worth it.
That brings me to my final section: stinging body parts.
When I come across cliff-jumping videos on social media, all I ever think about is how exhilarating it looks. Never do I think about the plight of the jumpers or how it feels to actually land in the water. Now I know better, though, because hot diggity damn that shit HURTS. The pressure of the water on whatever body part you land on is a lot stronger than you think. Let’s just say, I left my final 40-foot jump feeling…many feelings…in my nether region. Thankfully, the pain subsided quickly and I was too proud of the fact that my friends and I were the only girls with the guts to jump from that height to think much about the aching. Had to save face in front of the many impressed onlookers, you know?
Thank you Taiwan, for all these hidden gems and first-time experiences…I can’t believe I’ll be leaving you so soon.