Sunday, July 26, 2015

Taiwan: Day 4

#1: Geographic Center Stela, Nantou

We started out our fourth day in Taiwan with a visit to the geographical centre of Taiwan. We stopped by a fruit stall before we started our journey towards the stela, and the owner gave us generous amounts to sample. All that sugar didn't manage to prepare us for the steep walk. After what seemed like never-ending flights of stairs, we finally reached the top. Oh, what a view! It was tiring, but totally worth it!

#2: Checheng Station - Jiji Station, Nantou

Next, we got dropped off at Checheng. We walked around the wood exhibition, and then went off to the old street. We ate at a popular tea house where you can choose to have your meal served in a wooden bucket for a fee (you can take it home as a souvenir), although we didn't go for that option. After lunch, we took the train to Jiji. I thought the scenery was so beautiful, just look at how the train tracks are positioned against the mountain! 

#3: Sky Bridge, Nantou

The last place on our itinerary for the day was the Sky Bridge. It is an extremely long bridge suspended high above the valley, so only 150 people are allowed on it at a time. When we walked to the other side, we walked through some stalls and made our way towards the observation tower for a great view of Houtanjing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Taiwan: Day 3

#1: Sun Moon Lake, Nantou

I can see why Sun Moon Lake is such a popular destination for travellers and locals alike. The lake takes on the shape of the sun on one side and a crescent moon on the other, hence its name, and is surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains.

There are a lot of ways to explore the area, such as by bus, boat, bicycle, and even cable car. We had less than half a day to spend there before going to our next destination, so we did a boat ride from pier to pier. We did a lot of photo-taking and also got to try the famous mushroom tea leaf eggs. Apparently it sells in the ten of thousands during peak seasons!

#2: Cingjing Farm, Nantou

Some windy roads and good two hours later, we arrived at Cingjing Farm just in time for their sheep shearing show, which was one of their highlights. After exploring the vast grounds for a little, we headed to the horse riding show. Some of the moves were interesting at the start but it didn't manage to keep our interest. There were lots of walking tracks, shops selling sheep-related products, and of course, photo opportunities. If you like you can get up close with the sheep as well! (You may or may not need to bribe them with food!)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Taiwan: Day 2

A great contrast from the days to come, our second day in Taiwan was jam-packed with activities and attractions!

#1: Shengxing Railway Station, Miaoli

Shengxing used to be part of the Mountain Line, but when a newer section was built, services were stopped, leaving it as a tourist attraction. It was a romantic little place with some shops nearby. Hubby and I thought it would be a great place to film a music video!

#2: Longteng Broken Bridge, Miaoli

I was so glad our tour guide decided to add this to our itinerary. Its broken beauty serves as a reminder of the two most devastating earthquakes in Taiwan, first in 1935 and then in 1999.

#3: Lavender Cottage, Taichung

This place was the resulting efforts of two girls who wished to start their own lavender farm. It was a beautiful place with pretty gardens, souvenir shops and little cafés. There were many cute things to do, like little walk, sitting on the carousel and making a wish atop the hill. It was one of our lesser favourite attractions as it wasn't something we felt was unique to Taiwan (I'm thinking of Lavandula in Daylesford) but it's definitely a picturesque spot.  

#4: Rainbow Family Village, Taichung

Oh, the bold colours and art of this village! Rainbow Grandpa, who is more than 90 years old, is the man responsible for the vibrancy of this village and still stays there to this day. It's a very small place (we probably spent less than half an hour there), but trust that your spirits will be lifted from all that passion and colour!

#5: Gaomei Wetlands, Taichung

We arrived at the wetlands at 5pm, and the plan was to watch the sunset. Unfotunately it didn't happen because we found the heat intolerable! There was no doubt that it was an amazing place though. There were birds and crabs, windmills in the background, and I can only imagine the beautiful, uninterrupted view of the sun setting.

#6: Fengjia Night Market, Taichung

But not matter what, it's never too hot for food. Our tour guide acknowledged our lack of tolerance for the heat and dropped us off at Fengjia Night Market. Thus began the feasting! We filled ourselves up with plenty of snacks, and while they are called 'xiǎochī', meaning 'little eats', trust me, you will be very, very full, especially if you have no self-control like me!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Taiwan: Day 1

I've just returned from an eight day trip to Taiwan, and while I've brought back some form of contact dermatitis or photosensitivity reaction, I've also brought back plenty of memories and new experiences.

For the first five days of our trip, we had a private tour guide that drove us around the western side of Taiwan. We stayed in a different hostel every night which sometimes did feel like a bit of a rush, but it also meant that we got to see many different parts of the country. We were really thankful for our guide because we wouldn't have been able to do too much ourselves in such hot weather. Being chauffeured was a luxury, and his knowledge and enthusiasm were huge pluses. 

#1: Cihu Mausoleum, Taoyuan

Our first stop was Cihu Mausoleum, the resting place of Chiang Kai Shek, who was one of the greatest leaders of the Republic of China. To be honest, I had never heard about him before this visit. It wasn't till afterwards when I had read up on him that I realised what a major role he played in Chinese history.

Some defining features of this attraction were its abundant portraits and statutes, a beautiful, large lake (hence the name 'cíhú', meaning 'benevolent lake'), and the changing of guards ceremony.

#2: Neiwan, Hsinchu

Our next stop was Neiwan, a Hakka community located within the township of Hsinchu. We strolled along the old street and feasted on local snacks, and also took a walk across the suspension bridge. I was drenched in sweat, but there was no denying its humble prettiness with its mountains and waters. 

#3: Sanyi, Miaoli

Our last stop for the night was Sanyi, a rural town recognised for its woodcarving industry. Upon entering the town, we were stunned to see shops upon shops selling intricate carvings and sculptures, all made from wood. We also visited the Wood Sculpture Museum which was an eye-opener. It was fascinating to learn about the history of woodcarving and to admire the craftsmanship as well as the thoughts and meanings behind each work. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Greetings From Taiwan

I apologise for the lack of updates recently, as I'm currently on a two week holiday to Malaysia and Taiwan with hubby and the family. So far we've been having lots of fun visiting different attractions and of course, most importantly, tasting all the amazing foods this country has to offer! From pig's blood to oyster omelettes to intestines, we've been looking forward to every meal every day.

I'll update you guys on my trip in more detail once our schedule becomes more relaxed, so till then, I'll mainly be updating photos on Instagram!