For our October holiday this year, we decided to make use of the Taiwan Visa Shanhong had, to visit Taiwan for the first time. Knowing nothing about the country, we booked to join a coach tour – and although everything ran very smoothly – I think I can say we won’t be joining group tours again! Anyway, this is the first of the reports from the trip! We landed in Taipei and were transferred to a local hotel in Taoyuan, giving us a chance to go out, explore and find food!
The following morning, we joined the group and headed first for the bullet train ride into Taipei and our first stop, at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, erected as a memorial to Chiang Kai-Shek, first President of Taiwan.
Next stop was the Martyr’s shrine, to watch the changing of the guard. Very precise choreography – but I must confess I missed the pomp and bands of the London version!
It was now time to start the journey around the island – so we hopped on the bus, stopped off at the ‘miniatures museum of Taiwan’ and headed toJiufen.The area became famous when gold was discovered and nearby gold mines were opened. Now it is very much developed as a tourist attraction with retro-Chinese style cafés, tea houses, and souvenir stores bearing the name "City of Sadness".
The final stop on Day 1 was Nan Fang Ao, a fishing harbour with a famous temple. After stopping here for photographs and a bathroom break, it was the long drive around the coast, past the beautiful beaches of Cisingtan to Hualien for our overnight stop.
Do you like the shirt Shanhong bought me?!... and the cute little bug? Take care… Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy xx
Day two had us visiting the Linzi centre - 'Linzi' is famous in Taiwan for medicinal properties and harvested to make tea. Partly because I don't drink tea, and partly because of the incredible costs, this was not something we felt the need to buy - but the first pic shows this kind of fungus. We then drove to the Taroko National Park and the Eternal Springs Shrine. It is an area of natural beauty and gave us a chance to stretch our legs. We started the climb to the temple at the top - but had to give up when the steps kept going and our time began to run out!
From the Taroko National Park it was a short drive around the coast to Cisingtan, one of the many beach areas of Taiwan, for lunch.
From here it was then the long, long drive to our hotel for the night in the Hot Springs resort of Tautung. More for a toilet break than anything else, we did end up at a working animal farm, where of course I made friends with a few goats!
That was, in fact, all we did in this day, which sums up the disadvantages of a coach tour around the full island, we spent much more time on the coach than off it. We won't be doing this kind of tour again!
The next morning we were up early and back on the bus heading first to the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, a museum and educational complex spanning more than 100 hectares with eight Chinese-styled pagodas that stand for the Noble Eightfold Path, four stupas that symbolise the Four Noble Truths, and the Fo Guang Buddha amongst other buildings. While the religious aspects were not of the greatest of interest for me as a Christian - they did have an absolutely fantastic ice-cream stall!
It was then back on the bus and a further drive, firstly to a fruit packing farm, and then to take lunch at the Mei Non Hakka Village, a very touristy complex of shops and tea houses in the middle of nowhere! Then, from there to the town of Kaoshiung and the Spring and Autumn pavillions.
We just had time to visit the Leo Ho night market before heading back to the hotel! Take care… Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy xx
I didn’t have a chance in the last report to show any of the night market pics – so here they are, including the wonderful t-shirt I bought Shanhong! You can also see the result of her blue sweets!
Today started with another drive – stopping off en-route at a tea plantation, where we were able to pick some leaves and have a tasting. Shanhong bought some green-tea powder, but I am not a fan of any kind of tea! It was then on to the Sun Moon Lake for an early lunch.
After lunch we headed to the Wen Wu Temple where we appear to have taken lots of photos!
From Wen Wu temple, we drove via a Peacock Farm, to the lake itself where we had a boat ride.
From the Sun Moon Lake it was another drive to Taichung for the night, and a visit to the Fong Jia Night Market, similar to the one illustrated at the top of this report. Night markets in Taiwan seem to be more about food and clothes than the handicrafts and souvenirs we are used to from Thailand.
So, there you have another day – I hope you are enjoying this tour of Taiwan with us – just one report to go. Do take care and do keep in touch!
Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy xx
The day started with the long coach ride back to Taipei, calling in at a Wood Sculpture Area which was a real disappointment compared to Chiang Mai and not even worth a photograph! So, the first point of note was lunch, which was held in a very strange restaurant. I won't try to describe it - here are the pics!
After lunch we headed to the most famous building in Taipei - Taipei 101, home to a shopping mall and, of course, one of the tallest buildings in the world. We took the opportunity to visit the observation deck, so took the high speed elevator (note the speed in the pics below) to the top and took some pics. The final pic is of a proud teddy showing off the latest stamp in his passport!
After Taipei 101, we were taken back to the hotel - end of trip. We had a full morning before we needed to fly back, so had a walk around the hotel area and found a few buildings of interest, including a local temple - all good material for some final photos.
So, there you have it, our trip to Taiwan. It was good to be able to go and see some new places - but it is unlikely we will go back. We have a home in China, and Taiwan is not all that different. If we do go back, it will be to stay in one place and explore ourselves - coach tours are simply not for us!
Take care… Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy xx