Welcome back to my adventures in Taiwan during this summer! After spending a few days in Taipei for visiting relatives, my family and I packed up our belongings and headed off to Taichung (臺中), the third-largest city in the country after Taipei and Kaohsiung. We were to spend only one night there, before heading to Sun Moon Lake in the Nantou County the following day.
That said, we took the train from Taipei to Taichung, about a two-hour ride as we were going from north to central-west of the country. Gotta love the spacious, comfy seats and blasting air-conditioner on the train, especially in such a heat during the summer season!
We arrived in Taichung in the late afternoon, and took a taxi to our hotel. Checked in at the hotel lobby, settled down in our rooms, and later headed out to check out the Feng Jia Night Market, reputed to be the largest night market in Taiwan. From the looks of it, the night market is, indeed, quite large!
We went around the night market, checking out and trying tons of small, Taiwanese dishes. From the popular stinky tofu to pig’s blood cake on a stick (so much better than it sounds), it was an exciting *and yummy!* experience.
Unfortunately, we didn’t stay out very long, as we were tired from having traveled the entire afternoon, and needed to rest up for our trip to Sun Moon Lake the following day. Plus, the night market, which stretched from block to block in the city center, was a congested mess of cars, bikes, and people all over the place. It was thrilling, but way too much stimulation (and danger!).
The next morning, we checked out of our hotel, and was received by our tour guide in front of the building, and from there, we began our day’s tour around the Taichung/Nantou regions. We had opted for a private, hop-on-hop-off excursion, in which the driver took us around in a small, taxi-like car, and whatever we found interesting along the way, we could stop to visit it. Definitely a more autonomous way of seeing the many rural areas of Taiwan. Seriously, there’s so much lush, green landscape for miles and miles; since it is a tropical country, of course the fields and mountains remain so beautiful! ❤
Our first stop of the day was at Puli (埔里), a township that is famous for its wine factory, known for producing Taiwan’s well-known Shaohsing wine, which has been brewed since the early 20th century and has been used to welcome foreign leaders (including the Jamaican president!) into the country. I didn’t try or buy the wine, of course, but it was quite interesting to see that Taiwan also produced reputable wine- not just in Europe!
Before leaving Puli, we stopped by a reputable chocolate shop, Feeling 18, to purchase and taste its chocolates. Not bad, but I didn’t find them that special- they were all right.
Our next destination was none other than Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in country. A popular tourist attraction, it is also home to plenty of gorgeous, silhouette views of the mountains, as well as the Thao tribe, an Aboriginal group in Taiwan. There are plenty of hiking opportunities for the adventurous tourists, but my family and I opted just to hang around the lake, enjoy the scenery and check out what each site had to offer.
We took a boat ride from port to port on Sun Moon Lake (three, in total). At our first stop, we climbed up to the top of its temple, where you get the perfect, photo-taking view of the lake, in all of its glory. Photo really does not do justice to how beautiful it is.
For lunch, we rode over to the second stop, where we had Thao aboriginal cuisine at a local restaurant. While I wouldn’t say that it’s significantly different from that of Chinese or Taiwanese food, the Thao cuisine was actually quite delicious- flavors were there, but not over-powering, and I liked that.
In the early afternoon, we left Sun Moon Lake for our next destination: a peat bog. I know what you’re thinking (“Peat bog??” Whaaat?!), but let me tell you, it was an experience, albeit very brief. Basically, we got to walk around the bog (boots on, of course) and feel the sinking sensation as we were essentially stepping around soft earth. What a *wet* experience! (not in that context…get your mind out of the gutter!). 😉
Before leaving Nantou County, we made a final stop at Toushe Grandma’s Laundry Pool (forgive me for the awkward Chinese translation), which is basically a small, stone pool where women (often mothers and grandmothers) would manually wash clothes back in the day, thus bringing a community together.
After that, we were pretty much done for the day. Our tour guide drove us back to Taichung, where he dropped us off at the train station, as we were heading right afterwards to our next destination in our five-day journey around Taiwan.
Overall, our stay in Taichung was brief: I would’ve loved to stay perhaps an extra night, just so I could explore more of the Feng Jia Night Market (and try more of the local food). And since boba milk tea (one of my favorite beverages) originated in Taichung, I would’ve also liked to visit Chun Shui Tang (春水堂), the tea shop that started it all. Nevertheless, I am happy that we got to visit Sun Moon Lake, as I had seen such lovely photos of it online and had dreamed of going there for a while- and it definitely didn’t disappoint!
More adventures to come. Next stop: Tainan, Taiwan!
— The Finicky Cynic
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