During the last school holiday in December 2012, we went to Taiwan for vacation for a total of 13 days.
My parents-in-law came along. After searching for a private driver and booking accommodation, we were ready to embark on an interesting adventure by touring the country of 23 millions people.
It’s time consuming to look for places to stay as we don’t want to end up staying in a place where it’s dirty and unsafe. We made our choices based on the reviews by past customers. To make things worse, all communication is conducted in Mandarin though there are some customer service officers who are fluent in English.
Taiwan is generally a safe country and the people are friendly and helpful. The place is clean and the people are very particular about the environment. Of course, you will never go hungry as the country is full of yummy snacks that you can enjoy – and some of them are shared with you here.
We toured Taiwan from the East to the South, and from the West to the North. It’s an anti-clockwise trip of the Island.
Overall, it was an exciting trip for us and we have learned the way of living, food, and culture of the Taiwanese people.
Since we already briefly know what Taiwan is about from this trip, we might go to Taiwan again but this time we will choose to stay in one place and explore the place in more detail. Hmmm… perhaps Cingjing Farm (æ¸…å¢ƒè¾²å ´).
(I have also written some interesting facts about Taiwan if you’re interested.)
Here’s the rundown of what we did, places we visited, food we ate, and where we stayed during our visit to this island that was formerly known as Formosa.
Day 1: 4 December – Tuesday
Our flight took 4.5 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Taoyuan Airport in Taipei. We arrived in Taipei in the evening. The driver that we had previously booked and assigned to us did not turn up. However he sent a replacement driver. The driver took us to our first hotel in Taiwan and we reachedÂ Cityinn Hotel Plus Ximending (æ–°é©›æ—…åº—è¥¿é–€æ·é‹åº—) at 11.30 pm. The hotel provides free titbits and free mineral water in the room. No breakfast provided as we got this room at promotional rate. The rooms are clean and well kept though it is a bit small.
Day 2: 5 December – Wednesday
Our driver picked us up at 9am the following day from the hotel. He uses Volkswagon Carvelle that can accomodate 8 persons. Since we didn’t have breakfast, he brought us to Su-ao Port (è˜‡æ¾³æ¸¯) to have late breakfast. We had glutinous rice (ç±³ç³•é£¯ – NT$30) and pork rib soup at Liao Rong Chuan Mi Gao ï¼ˆå»–æ¦®å·ç±³ç³•ï¼‰. Prices are reasonable. Su-ao is also home to the world’s largest Mazu God (åª½ç¥–) statue that is made from coral.
After some winding road, we stopped at Qingshui Cliffs (æ¸…æ°´æ–·å´–)Â for toilet break and enjoyed the spectacular view of the cliff and ocean.
Then we stopped at Taroko National Park. I thought I would see forest here but what is amazing here is the mountains and cliffs and the rivers. They are unique and breath-taking. In one of the stretches, we had to wear safety helmets (on loan – FOC) to walk along the road to see Swallow Holes (ç‡•åå£) – holes in the mountains where swallows live.
Another significant achievement is how the Taiwanese people built a road connecting the West and the East of Taiwan by cutting through mountain ranges starting from Taroko National Park. It’s calledÂ Central Cross-Island Highway (æ±è¥¿æ©«è²«å…¬è·¯).
We went to Qi Xing Tan (ä¸ƒæ˜Ÿæ½)Â and collected some pebbles. It was strong wind. The beach is special as this is the first beach that I don’t see sand but stones. Later, we went to a museum that is about dried fish flakes (æŸ´é±¼). The process of making dried fish flakes is explainedÂ clearly in the museum. Dried fish flakes are similar to Bonito flakes (I am not sure whether they are the same). The museum is located near the beach and there’s a shop selling all types of products.
Checked in at @Home Homestay which is surrounded by paddy field and vegetable farm. The B&B, as the name suggests, has a cozy and homely environment. It is run by 3 young women who graduated from the same university. They are very hands-on and do everything from cleaning up to making simple but healthy breakfast.
That evening, after checking-in at @Home, we went to Hualien city to have dinner. We had what we call at home wanton or jiao zi. But it’s called bian shi in Taiwan. The restaurant is Yi Xiang Bian Zhi (æ¶²é¦™æ‰é£Ÿ). One bowl has 11 pieces bian shi that costs NT$300. Don’t think it’s not enough because it’s rather filling. The restaurant looks simple but it has been patronized by celebrities and politicians.
Day 3: 6 December – Thursday
We had breakfast at the homestay. Prepared by the three ladies: bacon, homemade bread, sunnyside up, salad, coffee and tea. It was lovely. We said goodbye after taking pictures with them. We felt very homely and they owners are very friendly and easy going.
Went to Gong Zheng Bao Zi (å…¬æ£åŒ…å) and bought a few xiao long bao for snack. The prices are very cheap: NT$5 each. We also bought 2 cups of soy milk at NT$15 each at the same shop.
Japanese have a vast influence on Taiwan. Naturally, you’ll find Japanese heritage here. Do you know that there’s a Japanese tample in Hualien? With the help of GPS (even the driver is not sure of the location), we visited Japanese temple called Qing Xiu Yuan (æ…¶ä¿®é™¢) which is located in a Hualien village.
Before we left Huelin for our next destination, we bought some mochi (éº»ç³¬) at Zhen Ji (æ›¾è¨˜éº»ç³¬). Seemingly Hualien is also famous for mochi. Prices: Green tea flavor at 10 each. While red bean at 15. The best and freshest mochi can be found on the cashier’s counter.
Next, we went to Liyu Lake (é¯‰éšæ½) in Hualien area. We paid NT$600 for a boat ride around the lake. It lasts 15 minutes. You can also pedal a boat but of course it takes much longer time to tour around. The air was fresh and the surrounding is clean. The scenery is spectacular.
Shi Ti Ping (çŸ³æ¢¯åª) was our next destination. It was about 1.5 hours’ drive through winding coastal, mountainous road. First time in our trip we saw so many other tourists in one spot in Taiwan. It showed that this spot is famous among tourists. It was drizzling and the wind was cold and strong. You can witness strong waves splashing the beach or stones here. Nice view.
On the way to Water Flowing Upward (æ°´å¾€ä¸Šæµ) in Taitung, we stopped at Dong He Bao Zi (æ±æ²³åŒ…å) and bought some Chinese meat steamed buns. Each costs NT$180. They also sell mantou. Personally, I find the meat steamed buns are a bit salty. Water Flowing Upward is a strange phenomenon and one has the false impression that the water flows upward – that is against what Â we normally know about nature where water flows downward. You have to see it to believe it.
We wanted to go to Little Yeliu (å°é‡ŽæŸ³) but when we reached it was already closed. But it was only about 5.30 pm only. It was already dark.
We had no choice but headed to our hotel in Taitung. We checked in at Kindness Hotel. Indeed, as the name suggests, the hotel turned out to be very kind and thoughtful. From double door to multiple shower head bathroom. From freeflow of ice cream to superb service.
Suggested by our driver, we had dinner at Wan Jia Xiang (è¬å®¶é„‰). The food was okay but it was expensive. Later we went to the night market in Taitung. It was not big. For the first time I tried stinky tofu (è‡è±†è…). As the name suggests, it smells like drain water! And we some bought shi jia (é‡‹è¿¦ ) fruits – which look like Buddha’s head. In English, it’s called Sugar Apple, Sweetsop, or Custard Apple.Â For the ripe ones, they cost NT 50 dollars each. Shi jia is Taitung’s specialty fruit. When in season, they are everywhere. You can’t miss them.
Day 4: 7 December – Friday
In the morning, we went to Luye (é¹¿é‡Žé«˜å°). It is a highland resort with tea and pineapple plantations. Located north of Taitung, the natural hide-out is clean and cooling. We tried the grass gliding which is a unique activity. NT$100 for two rounds. It’s also a nice spot for wedding photo as we saw a Hong Kong couple was there taking pictures. Near the viewing platform, there is a minsuÂ / homestay which looks very decent. It includes breakfast and dinner.
We had lunch at Under the Tree Noodles (æ¦•æ¨¹ä¸‹ç±³è‹”ç›®) in Taitung city. It seems like it’s a famous spot for noodles. You can have add ons like eggs, pork balls, pork. The patrons keep coming while we were there. Big bowl of noodles is NT$45.
It’s time to leave Taitung. After lunch, we took about two hours to reach Kenting. Before reaching, we stopped by Taiwans largest temple for God of Earth (åœŸåœ°å…¬) in Checheng (è»ŠåŸŽ).
Checked in at Daban 6 (å¤§é˜ªå…æ‡¶äººé¤¨). This homestay is basically a shophouse turned in to a motel. Paid the balance of our rental and breakfast $2360 (breakfast is not included though). Frankly, the room is no-frillls and a bit run down. The only consolation is the beach is just across the street. Also its homemade breakfast is delicious.
Later, we went to Eluanbi Park (éµé‘¾é¼»). It is a park with a small hill with a lightouse. You need to pay entrance fees to enter. $40 and $20 for adults and children respectively. One needs to walk some distance to reach the top where the lighthouse is located.
That evening we had dinner at Ali Seafood (é˜¿åˆ©æµ·ç”¢) near Maobitou (è²“é¼»é ). The seafood is fresh and cheap. They sell various types of clams, fish, prawns, lobster, seaweeds. Make sure you ask the price first, to be safe. The dinner came with free rice with sweet potatoes (åœ°ç“œé£¯).
After dinner we went to Kenting (å¢¾ä¸) night market. The stalls line up both sides of the main street in Kenting. We tried its super sized hotdog and tea.
The night falls early at 5 pm. That day,Â mother-in-law fell sick due to a cold.
Day 5: 8 December – Saturday
Early in the morning, I went to Kenting Nanwan Beach for a short walk before breakfast at 9 am. We had homemade bread, bacon, salad. Plus coffee, tea or juice. You can.ask for second serving if you are a big eater.
On the way to Kaohsiung leaving Kenting, we stopped at Xiao Du Bao Zi (å°æœåŒ…å) to buy some pau. The shop has a few branches and one of them in Kenting. You have to get your queue number and I had number ten even I reached there at 10 am.
After a long drive, we reached Foguangshan (ä½›å…‰å±±). It’s located in the suburb of Kaohsiung ï¼ about 30 minutes’ drive from Kaohsiung. FGS is spectacular and it’s huge. And it has many buildings and a big Buddha statue at the end.
By then we were starving and we still needed to drive to Kaohsiung city for a late lunch. We had glass noodles at Dongfen Wang (å†¬ç²‰çŽ‹) for lunch at 3 pm.
Not that we hadn’t had enough but just for fun, we went next door to have shaved ice. This restaurant is also a popular place started by an old lady.
Next destination was Dagou Former British Consulate Residence (æ‰“ç‹—è‹±åœ‹é ˜äº‹é¤¨å®˜é‚¸) which is located up on a small hill. To reach there, visitors have to climb up small steps that go through some residential houses. We didn’t go in as we needed tickets (NT$30 and NT$20 for adults and children respectively). The historical building is made of red bricks and it definitely has its own uniqueness. One can see National Sun Yat-sen UniversityÂ (åœ‹ç«‹ä¸å±±å¤§å¸) from Dagou.
We took a short ferry ride (10 mins) to Cijin Island (æ——æ´¥) and walked around the temple and night market areas. The place is famous for seafood and crackers.
We checked in Kindness Hotel in Kaohsiung. This is the newest addition to Kindness Groups of Hotels.
We went to Rui Feng night market (ç‘žè±å¤œå¸‚)Â for dinner. We had seafood porridge and fishball soup there. The night market was very packed and it’s hard to move around.
After dinner, we went to Love River (æ„›æ²³) for a night stroll before calling it a day.
Kaohsiung is a modern and big metropolitan and so far the biggest next to Taipei.
Day 6: December 9 – Sunday
Departed Kaohsiung and headed Tainan. It is just an hour’s drive. Tainan is a city that is full of ancient buildings and rich in history.
We went to Fort Provintia (èµ¤èŽ°æ¨“) first. This historical buildings used to be a fort and school. Entrance fees required.
We had lunch in two places since the driver told us Tainan is famous for its snacks. We had dumplings first for lunch at Zai Fa Rou Zong (å†ç™¼è‚‰ç²½). Besides that we ordered pork balls.
Then we moved onto another shop for wan guo (ç¢—ç²¿). We also ordered vegetable, pork knuckle, and noodles (æ“”ä»”é¢).
Next up, we visited Confucius Temple (å”å»Ÿ). As the name reads, this old temple is to commemorate Confuscius. Entrance fees required.
Later we went to Eternal Golden CastleÂ (å„„è¼‰é‡‘åŸŽ). A fort surrounded by moat and cannons. Entrance fees required. There is a live cannon performance at every hour. In fact, it is more like fireworks, not cannons. You can walk around the square-shaped castle.
We visited Anping Tree House (å®‰å¹³æ¨¹å±‹) located next to a temple and in a residential area. Anping Tree House is not the tree house we understand.Â Hard to explain but it looks like the trees are growing in a house. There is platform built above ground for easy access and viewing. Surely a very strange phenomenon.Â Entrance fees required.
We had dinner at Chous Prawn Fritters. Besides prawn fritters, we also had meat ball soup, rice with minced pork (é¯è‚‰é£¯) and braised eggs (é¯è›‹).
Then we checked in Kindness Hotel. This is the worst out of three Kindness Hotels we stayed.
Day 7: December 10 – Monday
Departed Tainan and headed Alishan. It took about 2 hours. First stop was Tian Chang Di Jiu Bridge (å¤©é•·åœ°ä¹…æ©‹). There are two bridges. Di Jiu is near to the road side. Tian Chang bridge is located in the inner side on a hill but it is closed. When we reached there was an accident happened a little further up and we had to wait for the police to clear the scene.
Later when traffic was allowed to proceed, we went to Fenqihu (å¥®èµ·æ¹–) for lunch. It is about one and a half hours drive from the bridge. Fenqihu is a small town half way to Alishan. We went to Fenqihu Restaurant to have the famous steel lunch box (ä¾¿ç•¶). It was crowded when we reached at 1.30pm. The food was good and it has chicken drumstick, pork chop, cabbage, rice, braised egg, and bamboo shoot and mushroom soup. The price is NT$120. The lunch box was sold to railway workers in the old days. And now it’s more for tourists.Â We walked around Fenqihu town and bought some mochi.
This is the highest point a visitor’s car can reach in Alishan (excepts cars of the residents there) where Alishan Station located. We went to Alishan Recreation Center. We were lucky as we managed to take the last train up to Sacred Tree Station (ç¥žæœ¨ç«™) at 3.45pm. But as the last train coming down is 4 pm, we had to walk down back to Visitors Center to meet our driver. Since we were not sure how to get down, we asked a tour guide the directions to go downhill. In fact, the distance is about 45 minutes of leisurely walk. By the way the place is very cold, wearing another layer of clothes is essential and a cup of hot, steamy coffee is a bonus.
The distance is too far and J and K were too tired to walk, I asked the driver to come up but he told me he couldn’t drive up except certain vans and local residents. We asked the same tour guide and he told us we could take a ride with a designated van which costed us NT$300 for six. Lucky for us, it took about ten minutes to reach Visitors Center. You can have a cup of hot coffee at the highest 7-11 in Taiwan there. I advise you to come early to Alishan so that you can take train down as well (instead of walking or taking the van) and the place gets dark at about 5 pm.
We went to Shiquo (çŸ³æ£¹)Â to have dinner since we stayed in a minsu in the same place. We stayed at Little Swiss Homestay (å°ç‘žå£«å±±èŽŠ) which is located in the middle of tea plantation. The place is very well maintained and clean but lack the homely feeling that we experienced in Hualien. Frankly, this place is a little over-priced.
Day 8: December 11 – Tuesday
As with what others did before us, we woke up at five in the morning. For? Sunrise! Because the driver came at 6 am to fetch us to Longtou (é¾é ) to watch sunrise. The viewing platform was at the back of a hotel called My Landscape Hotel (æ¢…åœ’æ¨“è§€æ™¯é£¯åº—). It is about six km from where we stayed. Due to weather conditions, the sunrise was not as good as we expected and we only managed to see it at seven.
A warning though. J and K were sick due to the winding nature of the roads in Alishan. Just be prepared with bags for unexpected vomits.
Departing Alishan, we went to Jiji Train Station (é›†é›†ç«è»Šç«™) on the way to Cingjing (æ¸…å¢ƒ). The train is nothing to shout about but it’s an very old station. However, it was rebuilt after 1999’s 921 earthquake. The town is popular with handmade banana rolls (é¦™è•‰æ²).
This was not part of the itinerary but the driver wanted to show us something rare here near Jiji. It was a temple that was hit by earthquake but still standing there – with broken pillars. The temple is Wu Chang Gong (æ¦æ˜Œå®®) which is not far from Jiji Station. It’s an amazing sight and there’s a new temple that is complete right next to the old one.
After a long car drive, we reached the famous Sun Moon Lake (æ—¥æœˆæ½). We took boat ride from Shuise Station æ°´ç¤¾ç å¤´. Tickets available at the jetty. First stop is to Xuan Guang Si (çŽ„å…‰å¯º) which is a temple. And this is also the location of the famous tea leaf eggs (é˜¿å¬·é¦™è‡èŒ¶è‘‰è›‹). The boat tickets entiltle you to multiple rides a day pass of three ports. The third port is Ita Thao (ä¼Šé”é‚µ). The place is packed with people especially with Chinese mainland tourists.
We later went to Paper Dome (åŸ”é‡Œç´™æ•™å ‚). Entrance fees apply but you can use the ticket value to redeem for souvenirs or food of the same value. Not recommended as there’s nothing much to see except a church made of paper.
Before calling it a day, we had dinner at Ah Dong Chicken (é˜¿æ±çª¯ä»”é›ž). The eatery is famous for its chicken that is roasted in a special steel bin with firewood. Mind you, you have to “dismantle” the chicken with bare hands (gloves and relevant utensils given). Besides that we ordered roast wild boar, stir-fried Shansu leaves (ç ´å¸ƒåç‚’å±±è˜‡). We can find shanshu in Malaysia too but nobody eats it.
After dinner we checked in at Top Cloud VillaÂ (é›²é ‚æ¸¡å‡å±±èŽŠ) in Cingjing at 7.30pm. We stayed in a room for six with floors, one double bed on the first floor and two double bed on upper level. I like this minsu as the room is made of wood. It has spectacular window view and skyview (with electric curtain) on the top floor.
Day 9: December 12 – Wednesday
After breakfast at Top Cloud, we went to Cingjing Farm (æ¸…å¢ƒè¾²å ´). The place is big and divided into three sections. It has three to four entrances. Senior citizens and children have special rates. The highlight of the place is Horse Show (é¦¬è¡“ç§€). Excellent horse riding skills showcased by a team of five riders from Russia. The farm has sheep, and ponies. The scenery is heavenly beautiful.
Next we went to Carton King (ç´™ç®±çŽ‹). A shop that sells products made from paper. Rangin from lights, figurines, etc. We didn’t go to Small Swiss Garden (å°ç‘žå£«èŠ±åœ’) next door.
While on the way down from Cingjing, we went to Puli (åŸ”é‡Œ) for lunch. Puli is famous for bihun (rice vercimelli) and Chinese wine. There’s a wine museum in Puli that you can pay a visit to to learn about the history and process of making wine.
Later we arrived in Lugang (é¹¿æ¸¯). First stop was Long Shan Si (é¾å±±å¯º). The temple is very old (compared to what we had seen so far) but it is clean. The compound is huge and deep.
This is interesting. We went to Molu Lane (æ‘¸ä¹³å··). A very narrow street near the temple that only one person can go through at any one time. For the uninitiated, Molu means literally “touching breasts.”
Later we took a stroll at Lugang Old Street. You can find peanuts, niu she bing (ç‰›èˆŒé¤…), and other local snacks there.
Checked in Yuanlin Kindness Hotel. We had pork rib noodles for dinner at a restaurant opposite the hotel. Outside the hotel there many fruit stalls on both sides of the street. We had a short walk around the vicinity after the dinner to feel the pulse of the city.
Day 10: December 13 – Thursday
First thing in the morning while we had not digested our breakfast, we bought a box of Cold Braised Chicken Feet (é›žè„šå‡) as it is highly recommended by the driver. It’s different from I used to have because it is cold. We didn’t immediately consume them but we tried some in the hotel room and boy were they delicious and flavorful. We finished them in one setting!
Before we left Changhua we visited Fan Shaped Train Station (æ‰‡å½¢è»Šåº«). The station is unique as it is used to keep and maintain trains. The design of the station is attractive. Take note that the entrance is located along a small lane and only a small signage is visible. It even took the driver some time to locate it.
We tried the famous Changhua meat ball. The shop is Azhang Rou Yuan (è€æ‹…é˜¿ç’‹è‚‰åœ“). The meat ball is made of sweet potato flour (as the skin) and withsome meat inside. It is served with some gravy. A plate of this costs 30 Taiwan dollars.
Before going to Taipei – our final destination of our trip – We went to Lavender Garden near Neiwan. It is located in a very remote area going through some hilly roads. There are not many lavender to be seen, to be honest. But you can see other plants there. The scenery is nice. Entrance fees required but senior citizens and children enter free.
Later we went to Neiwan Old Town (å†…ç£è€è¡—) where we had our late lunch. The place is Hakka majority. We tried some local delicacies such dumpling (é‡Žè–‘èŠ±ç²½å) – NT$15, a Hakka specialty steamed cake (è‰ä»”ç²¿). Most stalls there sell similar products.
Chekced in Dandy Hotel Tianmu Branch (ä¸¹è¿ªæ—…åº—å¤©æ¯åº—), Taipei. The service of Dandy is superb. Had dinner at a Japanese Restaurant nearby on a recommendation by a hotel staff. It was good and the place was packed.
Day 11: December 14 – Friday
This is the start of our city tour. First, we took a quick look at the President’s Office (ç¸½çµ±åºœ). Then we went to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (åœ‹ç«‹åœ‹çˆ¶ç´€å¿µé¤¨) and the adjacent National Concert Hall (éŸ³æ¨‚é¤¨) and National Theatre Hall (æˆ²å‰§é™¢) and Freedom Square (è‡ªç”±å»£å ´). In the Memorial Hall, there are a few halls and one of them is about the life and struggles of CKS. The place is big and majestic.
Then we went to Taipei 101 – Taiwan’s tallest building. It has an observation tower on 89th Floor. The queue was long. We didn’t go up but walked around the shopping area.
We had lunch at Formosa Chang (èƒ¡é¬šå¼µé¯è‚‰é£¯) which is near Wufenpu (äº”åˆ†åŸ”) – where it is famous for cheap fashion shopping. I walked around a section of the area and got bored. So did the kids. I took them to a playground behind a temple and they enjoyed themselves there very much. It helped us to spend longer time there while the ladies did their shopping.
Then we rushed to National Revolutionary Martyrs’ ShrineÂ (å¿ çƒˆç¥ )Â to watch the change of guards which happens at every hour. Quite an experience to see how they guards do it.
The driver took us to a shop selling biscuits, especially Taiwan’s famous pineapple biscuits (é³³æ¢¨é…¥). They also sell other products such as meat floss, etc. We find the prices are on the high side. For example, a box of pineapple biscuits is 360 NT dollars.
As the last activity of the day, we went to Shilin Night Market (å£«æž—å¤œå¸‚). We had dinner at the food court located in the basement. We had oyster omeletteÂ (èšµä»”ç…Ž) and misua (é¢ç·šï¿¼æ¹¯). We reached there at about 5 pm. By the time we left the place was packed with people. The night market offers clothes, souvenirs, fruits, food to visitors. I find the items are highly priced there. I noticed there is a stall selling chicken chop that attracted a long queue. No joke.
Day 12: December 15 – Saturday
Still in Taipei and we went to Yehliu Geopark (é‡ŽæŸ³åœ°è³ªå…¬åœ’). It is an amazing nature park where you can see many limestones that resemble some familiar objects. Top on the list is Queen’s Head. There is not one but two queen’s heads. The place is clean and well organized. It even has a secuity guard maintaining order for taking pictures. The popular spot is big and you need to walk quite a bit. It was hot that day. Entrance fees required but highly affordable. On exit, there are stalls selling all kinds of Taiwanese food and snacks which are reasonably priced. If you want to buy something home, get it here.
Before going to Jiufen, we stopped by and checked out Golden Waterfalls (é»„é‡‘ç€‘å¸ƒ) in Jinguashi (é‡‘ç“œçŸ³). You donâ€˜t need to hike far as you can enjoy the amazing view of the golden waterfalls from roadside.
Continued on to Jiufen Old Street (ä¹ä»½è€è¡—). The place is packed with tourists and famous for snacks. We tried taro balls (èŠ‹åœ“). Traditional flavor is mixed with red beans. You can also try taro balls with ginger soup. The view is spectacular as you find mountains and sea. Jiufen is a former gold mine and it was started off by gold miners. Met a porcelain maker when we traveled,off road looking for a toilet. The shared with us his experience and inights about thr industry.
We went to Shifen Waterfalls. The place closes at 4.30pm. We didnt manage to enter but we could see the waterfalls from a distance. Later we went to Shifen Old Street and Station (ååˆ†ç«è»Šç«™). We had snack and tried its yu tiao with almond tea. I still like the Malaysian version of yu tiao. Shifen is the place for tian deng (å¤©ç‡ˆ). A lantern which you can release to the sky just like hot air balloons. You make wishes by writing on the lantern and light up the fire and release it to the sky. The lantern costs from NT$100 dollars for one color. One snack that you might want to try, that is chicken wings wrapped with rice which is located at the end of the road near Shifen Station.
Day 13: December 16 – Sunday
The last day was tiring since we had traveled quite a bit in Taiwan. The traffic was heavy especially when we were on the way to Fisherman’s Wharf and Tansui. I assume because it’s a weekend.
First destination was theÂ President’s Residence (ç¸½çµ±å®˜é‚¸).Â This used to be the official residence of Chiang Kai-shek. Now it has turned into a tourist spot. Visitors can tour around the garden (which is huge even by today’s standard) for free. But if you want to enter the residence/building, you have to buy entrance tickets.Â We didn’t go in but just walked around the garden that is planted with many types of trees and flowers. Two main flowers are obviously seen are roses and cherry blossom.
Next, we made a lightning stop at Yangmingshan (é™½æ˜Žå±±). AÂ beautiful hill located just out of Taipei. Many locals can be seen walking and running around this well-kept, serene place. There’s a working flower clock which is a hot spot too.
Then we adjourned to another place which is nearby Yangmingshan and this place is the furthest we can go. It’s 670m above sea levels and it’s called ZhuzihuÂ (ç«¹åæ¹–).Â One can see lots of fruit stalls, restaurants, and nurseries here. We had our lunch there and I love this quiet, cooling place where it’s also famous for a type flower called calla lily (æµ·èŠ‹). The sea of white calla is the trademark of Zhuzihu and the view can be very spectacular.
It’s time to go back to the city. And we stopped at Fisherman’s WharfÂ (æ¼äººç¢¼é ).Â Tamshui (sometimes spelled as Tanshui or Danshui) Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular spot for tourists both locals and foreigners. The place is buzzed with activities from the nearby restaurants and bars. It’s a nice place to enjoy sea breeze and seaview. It’s famous place for dating too.
Our last stop in Taiwan before dinner was Tanshui Old Street (æ·¡æ°´è€è¡—).Â Of all the old streets that we visited, Tanshui Old Street is the most crowded. It’s full of people that you can’t walk without banging each other. Just like other old streets, this place has many snack bars, cafes lining up the streets. Tanshui is famous its iron eggs (æ·¡æ°´éµè›‹) – a type of eggs stewed for a long time with spices. I personally don’t like it and there’s nothing special about it.
The driver promised to take us to try out Taiwan’s pork knuckle. We didn’t do it until the last minute.Â Before boarding a plane home, I reminded our driver that I wanted to try Taiwan’s pork knuckle before I bid good bye to Taiwan. He obediently took us back to Taipei City – to an apparently famous pork knuckle restaurant. But luck was not on our side, the restaurant closed that day. Fortunately, there’s another restaurant selling the same thing a few doors away.Â This restaurant is not without its followers because it was packed with diners that night that we had to go downstairs for a table – which previously was not occupied.
The food there turned out to be satisfactorily. And I was a happy man after chomping down its juicy and tender pork knuckle with rice.