FAMILY TRIP TO TAIWAN

FAMILY TRIP TO TAIWAN

Last year, my mother suggested to go Taiwan for our second family trip. We were so happy as we had never been to Taiwan before. Unfortunately my brother could not take annual leave and unable to join us. As a first timer, I spent about 2 months to make our itinerary, yet the schedule seems a little tight.

On the departure date, we reached KLIA2 airport at 7am to catch our early flight. After taken our breakfast, we checked in our baggage. It took us 4 hours 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur to Taoyuan International airport, Taiwan.

After we collected the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass and HSR (High Speed Rail) ticket which we bought from Klook app, we took HSR from Taoyuan airport to Taichung, and took city bus to Fengjia. Yes, we will start our journey from central to north.

Once we checked in our homestay at Fengjia, our stomach already started to growl. Thus, we went out to take our first dinner in Taiwan. No doubt, at Fengjia night market.

Second day, we carpool with 3 Korean women and 1 Hong Kong couple to Nantou county. After 2 hours driving, we arrived our first station, Qingjing Farm. We enjoyed the Sheep-shearing Show at Green Green Grassland. The show features a New Zealand-style sheep shearing demonstration which sheep shearer skillfully removes the woolly coats for the audience’s enjoyment.

Due to time constraints, we skipped to interact with the sheeps and Horse Riding Show. We walked to Guanshan area through 487-Step Trail and closely observed mountain trees, plum trees, and butterflies.

Then, the driver brought us to the Small Swiss Garden. The garden is planted with plants and plants from all over the world, and each season can see different natural beauty. The air was fresh and environment was elegant, we felt very relax there.

After leaving Qingjing Farm, we took 1 hour to reach our next station – Sun Moon Lake. The driver showed us how to take the shuttle boat and enjoy the scenic view at the lake. Of course, we not forget to dock our boat at Xuan Guang Temple to try the famous A Ma tea leaves eggs, as well as Ita Thao Pier to find the old village of aboriginal Thao people. There was an abundance of street food, souvenir shops and restaurants for us to relax in.

We enjoyed the cozy cruise at Sun Moon Lake and walked around the village for 4 hours before we returned to Fengjia. Of course, our dinner was settled at Fengjia night market again. First day passed.

On third day, we checked out our homestay and booked a private car for one day tour at Taichung. Initially my plan was Lavender Cottage -> Xinshe Castle -> Carton King -> Gaomei Wetlands -> Taichung THSR station. However, the driver told me that due to the first 3 places were in Xinshe, we might not have time to visit Gaomei Wetlands. If it is our must-go place, why not we go there first?

I trusted him and accepted his suggestion, this is why I visited Gaomei Wetlands in the morning. Sadly, I found that there was nothing to see in the morning, even the ‘wetland trail’ will only open at 11:30am. I couldn’t watch the tide or leave the seawall to go splashing around. Regret that I didn’t do some research before adopted the driver’s suggestion.

Okay, I still took some photos to prove that “I have been here before”. Haha…  After 15 minutes, we departed to our next attraction – Lavender Cottage at Xinshe.

Lavender Cottage is a beautiful and relaxing garden, around 1 hour drive away from Taichung city. I felt really comfortable when wandering around this place. Every single corner seems to have its story to tell. We were surrounded by the green and purple decorations. The healing atmosphere made us slowed down our pace and enjoyed the scenery around us. At least, my mood was getting better now. Haha…

We spotted this unique postage service where you could send a postcard to yourself in future, according to the dates that were stated on the mailboxes.

After wandering the sea of flowers, we took about 20 minutes to our next station – Xinshe Castle. There are a lot of European style castles surrounded by a beautiful garden and pond. The buildings are made of red bricks. With the lake, mountains and beautiful garden as a backdrop, we felt that we were walking into a fairy tale. This was really a perfect spot for us to take pictures to our heart’s content.

After took a relaxing stroll at Xinshe Castle, we headed to the next attraction – Carton King Creativity Park. It is the first paper-based theme park in Taiwan where almost everything is made out of cardboard material. As we entered the park, we saw famous structures like the windmill in Netherlands, Big Ben in London, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.

Besides, we could also see the park from another perspective, by walking on the No. 11 Sky Trails. The sky trail is made out of wrought iron, which is a very strong material. But the iron is bent to create curvy forms that give the metal a softer feel to it. 

We spent about one and a half hour here because we figured out that we still had extra time. This proved that we could visit Gaomei Wetland if I stick to my initial plan! Sigh… I felt sad again. L

Anyhow, what is passed is passed. The driver fetched us to the last station – Taichung HSR station. After said thank you to the driver, we took HSR again from Taichung to Taipei. After arrived Taipei city, we checked in our homestay at Wanhua district. So our Taichung journey ended here and we will start our Taipei journey tomorrow. But before that, we must feed our stomachs first. The first dinner we tried in Taipei was Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle. It tasted good but no seat available. All customers just stand in front of the store to consume.

Now it came to the forth day, I had booked the Guishan Island Whale Watching Tour in Yilan from KKday app. Due to our tour was scheduled at 9:00am, it had been a tiring day for us. We woke up at 5am, had our breakfast at Family Mart and took the earliest MRT to Kuo-Kuang metro bus station. The earliest bus from Taipei to Yilan was 7:05am and it took 80 minutes to reach there. On the way to Yilan county, I kept worrying that we might get caught in traffic jam and missed our tour. Fortunately, the traffic was quite smooth and we arrived Yilan at 8:25am. So we could boarding our scenic boat on time.

Guishan Island is the only active volcano in Taiwan belonged to lava terrain. It is a turtle-shaped island covered with lush greenery. It has a tail which faces the mainland and made up of rocks from the surrounding cliff face. It also ‘wags’ and apparently curves in different on the time of year and the prevailing waves.

Our boat tour explained the history of Guishan Island to all the passengers. I didn’t really pay attention on what he saying. My eyes kept watching on the sea and waiting for something…

After the boat tour finished explained the history and the scenic boat ride around Guishan Island, we headed to middle of the sea and started searching for dolphins, flying fishes and whales. This is the purpose we came for this trip!

However, after the boat wandered for about 1 hour, we still didn’t see any dolphin and flying fish. My mood was dropped from excited to depressed. I travelled all the way from Taipei to Yilan in the early morning just to watch the dolphins and flying fishes dancing on the sea. I had no luck today! Yet this was not the worst, the sky started to rain heavily! It was windy and very cold, I really wanted to cry… (Let me cry for 5 minutes. T_T)

Okay, finished cried and continue my story. The boat tour gave each of us a raincoat so we wouldn’t get wet, and the scenic boat took half an hour to return to Yilan.

After we had our lunch at Seafood wholesaler, we visited the Lanyang Museum which located 10 minutes walking distance from here. The structure of this Museum is quite unique. It incorporates the shape of the cuestas commonly seen along the Beiguan Coast. There are some permanent exhibitions inside that display Yilan’s geography, culture, history and diverse natural resources.

The sun had set when we returned to Taipei. We visited the Longshan temple in Taipei as it was closed to the MRT station that we dropped off. The temple itself is gorgeous with the intricate designs. There is a small, man-made waterfall at the courtyard. This temple is famous with the matchmaking God – Yue Lao. My mother prayed to him and wished I could get a girl friend ASAP. Oh yes, I am still single. Haha…

Before we returned to homestay, we were not forget to settle our dinner at Bangka night market near to the temple.

Fifth day in Taiwan, it was on Wednesday. We tried the famous breakfast in Taiwan – Yong He Soy Milk. I ordered a cheese egg crepe and a cup of soy milk. The cheese egg crepe tasted sweet and salty at once, love its crispy texture so much. The soy milk was really smooth and helped me to clear any additional greasy taste from the palate, totally different with the one in Malaysia.

After had our breakfast, we took MRT to Tamsui station and took bus Red 26 to our first attraction of the day – Taisui Fisherman’s Wharf. The two biggest attractions at the wharf are the wooden boardwalk that passes the river on one side, and the boat/yacht wharf on the other; as well as the beautiful Lover’s Bridge. Just like other tourists, we snapped our typical keepsake photos at the Lover’s Bridge and Love Sculpture. Despite being one of the major attraction in Taipei, the area was surprisingly not as crowded as we have expected.

Due to the ferry starts sailing at 11:00am and we were too early for that, we couldn’t take ferry to Tamsui Ferry Pier near to Tamsui Old Street. Thus, we took bus Red 26 again returned to Tamsui Old Street. The old street is filled with a wide variety of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes and stalls selling snacks. We strolled along the old streets of Tamsui, of course not forgot to try some must-eat local food.

After that, we had visited Taipei Grand Hotel, a landmark located at Yuanshan. It is one of the top 10 remarkable hotels in the world. The hotel featuring a palace-inspired exterior of golden roof tiling and red columns.

Then we talked to the National Revolutionary Martyrss Shrine which was just near to Grand Hotel. The shrine was full of fine architecture and scenery, Chinese history and war monuments. We also watched the dramatic ceremony of changing of the honor guards. The ceremony happens hourly. It is famous for its incredible military precision and the completely still posture of the guards on duty.

After finished watching the ceremony, we took the city bus to National Palace Museum, one of the most visited museums in the world. The museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks. The most famous exhibits would be Jadeite Cabbage. It is a jadeite carefully and cleverly sculpted into a small cabbage head.

We started feeling hungry after spending 2 hours at National Palace Museum. Thus we took bus to Shilin Night Market to have our dinner. Shilin is one of the largest and popular night markets in Taiwan.

After dinner, the night was still young. We took bus to Miramar Entertainment Park to have our last activity of the day – Riding Ferris Wheel on top of shopping mall. Guess how tall this Ferris Wheel is? It is 70 meters! Due to mom afraid of heights, only sister and I took the ride. We chose the transparent cabin to enjoy the panoramic city views of Taipei while onboard the Miramar Ferris Wheel, including mountains of Dazhi and Neihu as well as towering buildings like Taipei 101. Although it was quite high up, I must say that it wasn’t as exciting or scary as I expected. Haha… After finished riding, we took MRT returned to our homestay.

Day 6, we had booked a Yehliu, Jiufen & Shifen day tour from Klook app. After had some toast as our breakfast, we went to the assembly point and wait for our tour bus. The bus departed at 8:30am sharp. Without any delay, we arrived Yehliu Geopark at 9:30am.

There are many unusual mushroom-like rock formations that have been shaped through the centuries by winds and water erosion in Yehliu Geopark. They are said to resemble things like ice cream cones, pineapple buns, even gorillas. But none of them are more famous than the Queen’s Head rock. The rock looks like Queen Elizabeth with its slender neck and regal profile. We need to fall in line to take photo with it. Luckily we arrived early and the line wasn’t bad.

Next, we headed to the two-tone bay – Yin Yang Sea. The colour of the sea water is presented in two tones. This is due to the high content of Ferric ions that colour the blue water in orangey-brown. However, the sky spoilt my mood again and started to rain. The sea water became mud water. Thus, we couldn’t really see the two-tone colours.

Then, we moved to our next station – The Golden Waterfall. It was named after the golden appearance of the combination of the heavy metal elements that deposit in waterfall. The water was still clean, unlike Yin Yang Sea.

After visited The Golden Waterfall, we came to Jiufen Old Street. There are tons of delicious streets food snacks to be had here. We gobbled our way like Pacman through Jiufen Old Street. Of course, we won’t forget to check in A-Mei Teahouse, the hugely successful animated film Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki.

After Jiufen Old Street, we get back on the tour bus and headed to nearby Shifen Waterfalls. It is a 20 meters tall cascading waterfall. It isn’t the biggest waterfall but it’s a pretty sight, with plenty of viewing platforms set up all around. We spent about half an hour here to take pictures.

Our last stop was at Shifen Old Street where we had been given an hour to walk around. Shifen Old Street is a former railroad town. Through the train still runs to this day, mainly for tourism. It has become a popular tourist attraction famous for the releasing of these sky lanterns. Watching a few lanterns went up into the sky was really cool enough. We also bought some souvenirs at here.

At last, our tour was end and we followed our tour bus back to Taipei city. Our stomach was starving when we arrived Ximending. Therefore we took city bus to Raohe night market for food hunting. Another Pacman game began before we went for sleep…

Day 7, still in Taipei city. After had our light breakfast at KFC, we took MRT to Taipei Zoo Station. Today we would visit the Taipei Zoo. The zoo is very organized, and the entrance fee is just TWD 60 per adult. It is unbelievably cheap for a zoo that maintains a large diversity of animals, including giant panda and koala bears.  

We stayed in the zoo for about 4 hours. We thought we could finish watching all the animals in the zoo but it wasn’t. Nevertheless we still managed to see the rarely seen animals like panda, koala, alpaca, and penguin. The zoo was like a big magnet for us, and it caused us ran out of time to take Maokong Gondola. L

Walking too much will easily get hungry, we decided to eat something better for today’s lunch. We took MRT to Gongguan station to try the Taiwan’s famous steamboat buffet – Mala Hot Pot. It is a 2 hours “Eat All You Can” buffet style hot pot, plus unlimited Haagen Dazs and Movenpick ice cream. Unlike many buffets in Malaysia, they had many ingredients to choose and their hot pot was really tasty. 2 hours was not enough for me. Haha…

After finished taken our sumptuous lunch, it was time to take some walk. We decided to visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a Chinese-style garden which made to celebrate the long-serving and first president of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek. At the legacy showroom, we saw the authentic records, important protected photos, old items used by the former President, as well as the Presidential cars. Besides, we also caught the hourly change of guard ceremony here.

Many people believe that their stay in Taipei will not be completed unless they get to visit Taiwan’s tallest building – Taipei 101, and finally we were here. Taipei 101 is a landmark skycraper with a height of 508 meters and 101 stories. First, we soared up to the indoor observatory on 89th floor with the world fastest elevator and took in the amazing 360-degree views of Taipei. We found the central area in Taipei was surrounded by a lot of high rise buildings. The sight was awesome!

Then, we went to the outdoor observatory on 91th floor. The outdoor viewing deck let us felt the wind beside us, the sky above while enjoying the amazing scene beneath. The vast city lights were a cool thing to see, not to mention the cold wind.

After that, we headed down to the lower deck indoor observatory at 88th floor. Along the way, we were entertained to traverse an alley which light displayed panoramic view of the city on one side of the wall and a mirror on the other side giving a way for us to take picture of it as background. We followed the alley to the center where the giant sphere called Tune Mass Damper is situated. It is suspended like a pendulum that sways to offset movements or vibration in the building caused by strong winds.

Before we leave, we went to the shopping mall on the lower floor and bought some souvenirs.

Tonight, we had our dinner at Xuaxi night market as it was near to our homestay. We feeling tired after today’s walking.

Day 8 morning, it was the last day of our trip. We said goodbye to Taiwan and headed to airport. It has been an extremely fruitful and enjoyable trip. No doubt there were disappointments with us such as no luck to see the dolphins at Guishan island and could not catch the beautiful scene of Gaomei Wetlands, we still explored many places, food, and tried so many fun and new things together. I felt it was one of the best trips that I ever had with lots of beautiful memories to take away. Really hope to have another exciting trip with my beloved family soon.

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Written by VinsNg