Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taiwan May 2008 Part 3

I have officially reached the end of my patience with posting day by day, so from now on I'm just going to do the highlights.

Pippin, my lovely teddy who follows me everywhere. He had a nice time in Taiwan too =)

This is taken atop the 狮头山, or Lion's Head Mountain in Miaoli, which Kimble brought us to climb. The mountain is full of temples build in a variety of style and period.

Somewhere in Miaoli. It was a lake with a little stone island in the middle, and the locals fish there.

Moving on! I have to say, Taiwan has a fantastic train system, even if it is a little hard to get to certain areas, and is probably impossible to navigate if you can't read or speak Chinese.

And our next destination: the scenic 日月坛, Sun Moon Lake. That place is amazing, very beautiful, very relaxing, great weather. Best way to go around is to rent an electric bike. There are also many small, family-run hostels there, generally of excellent standards and good value, especially during off-peak seasons.

Next stop: Alishan, one of the most famous destinations in Taiwan. I'm sorry to say that it was quite a disappointment, at least for us. We had the most appalling luck. This is a picture of the view from the top of the mountain at around 5am, right around when we were supposed to be able to catch a spectacular sunrise. But due to the heavy fog, and the impatient train who wouldn't wait, we left without catching a glimpse of the sun.

The famous Alishan ricebox, which tasted like crap.

Redeeming features of Alishan: truly spectacular trees, so tall they seem to reach into the skies.

Moving on: to 绿岛, Green Island! Hands down, my absolute favorite destination in the entire trip. Relax, we didn't take these little boats to the Island =) The ride was bumpy, and yes, I threw up. Eating breakfast before the ride was a very bad decision. Standing on the deck, instead of sitting inside, seemed to make the ride more tolerable.

I loved EVERYTHING about Green Island [except for the proprietor of our hostel, who was a little evil. Don't stay at Jack's!]. The gorgeous seasides, the sleepy, peaceful little town, the close-knit small town community and the friendly population. I'll be seeing you again, Green Island.

Something unusual: seaweed iced dessert! Tasted very normal, actually, except for the addition of stringy seasweed, which has no taste. But still very cool. Did I mention how much I adore this place?

A short distance from Green Island is Hualian, a coastal city. First night there, we visited a night market by the seaside, at the 南滨公园 [Nan Bin Gong Yuan].

Part of our dinner

Watermelons were in season while we were there, and gigantic watermelons could be seen everywhere. Fresh, juicy chilled watermelon will be offered in every household you visit.

Another famous destination: Taroko National Park. Again, not quite what it's made out to be. And, please don't go up there without an exit strategy. The guidebook may say that you can flag down a bus off the park, but I can tell you from personal experience that is not viable. We had to hitch-hike out of the dame place.

Freaky kid who picked us up in front of the night market and followed us around, trying to sponge food and games off of us.

Game machine with cigarettes as the top prize!

If you are in Taiwan or going to Taiwan, and you are reading this, please help me eat an extra helping of breakfast and Soybean milk =(

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