Known for its night markets, healthy food, and the famous Din Tai Fung, I must say that there is so much more to Taiwan than just what it is commonly known for. Yes, this country did live it up to its claims, but then there are countless more things and sceneries to discover from this extremely beautiful place.
I personally didn’t think that there would be much to see in Taiwan. I haven’t heard much about this country because people rarely visit. Our stay only lasted for 4 days, it’s just that our flights to and from Taiwan were both at midnight so it seemed like we stayed there much longer. It’s a 2-hour trip from the Philippines, but it didn’t feel like it because I was just asleep during the flight.
One place that is a must-see to all tourists is Sun Moon Lake. It is the largest body of water in Taiwan. It is located in the Nan Tou area, so we took the Nan Tou bus from the Taichung (HSR) High Speed Rail station. They offer special packages that include a round-trip ticket to and from Sun Moon Lake plus entrance passes to the different tourist attractions surrounding the lake. We were originally supposed to take the package that costs NTD 1090, but then the seller said that we were already late. She was afraid we could not make the most out of our package. Instead, we took the pass that cost NTD 620.
The ride was claimed to take 2 hours, but surprisingly, it only took an hour for us to get there. Once we alighted the bus, someone approached us, ripped off some part of our pass, and gave us the tickets for the yacht ride. It has 3 stops: Shueishe, Syuanguang, and Yidashao. The bus dropped us off at Shueishe and from there, we went straight to the wharf. All the yacht rides follow one route which was from Shueishe to Syuanguang to Yidashao, and then back to Shueishe. Local specialty snacks in this area (Shueishe) include: Sun Moon Lake street fruit, presidential fish package, crispy fried fish, Assam black tea, and ice cream black tea.
You will admire the clear and blue color of the lake much more once you have arrived at Syuanguang. It has a green environment with temples and locals selling products. Unfortunately, the temple was not open to the public. A claimed must-eat is the 50-year-old lady tea eggs. You also must see the Sun Moon Lake boundary and the Qinglongshan trail.
Yidashao is somewhat similar to the setting of Shueishe. It’s full of buildings and there are souvenir shops and local eateries. Food specialties include: rice and chicken wings, Koryo mushrooms package, carbonated sausage with millet and the road black tea. You can ride a cable car, but during the time that I was there, it was unavailable. Aboriginal members also perform dance and song numbers.
We couldn’t understand anything, so we just looked for a “safe-looking” restaurant. We ate at Zhi-La Small Hall. It’s a local eatery run directly by the owners itself. The son and the mother cook, while the father attends to the customers. You can see pictures of their trips on the walls, and it really actually feels like their personal space. They had no menu in English, and they could see that we were having a hard time in choosing our orders, so they gave us a set meal menu instead.
With our tummies full, we rode the yacht again and we headed back to Shueishe to catch our bus. It’s the same spot where we were dropped off by the previous bus. Just make sure to fall in line for the same bus liner (if you have a package) cause there are many. We are dropped off again at the Taichung HSR station. We retrieve our baggage from our locker, and we ride a train to the Taichung Railway station. In order to reach the front of the Taichung Railway station, follow Exit#3 and the signs that lead outside.
*Note: The (TRA) Taichung Railways Administration is different from the Taichung (HSR) High Speed Rail.
We then headed to Miyahara, which is known for selling delicious sweets. From the front of the Taichung Railway station, just cross street, and the building will be found at the right end corner of the 1st block. The place is actually interesting because they revamped an old fire station into a pretty store. We bought some pineapple cakes and chocolates.
From there, we made our way to our homestay: Ino Home. Make sure that you have prepared the name of your hotel in Chinese characters so that it will be easy for the driver to understand. For additional uses, you may also have a map view of the place.
Ino Home is a Bed & Breakfast. The caretaker/owner, JR, can be of big help and he is very nice. He also speaks English, so if you have questions, make the most out of it. You may also ask him for good restaurants you can check out in the area. He recommended that we go to the Chong San Night Market instead of the Fengjia Night Market, because the food there is more authentic than the ones at Fengjia.
That concludes my Day 1 in Taiwan. Posts about the rest of the trip will be published soon. Stay tuned!