|Shihfen Waterfall, Taipei|
There are pros and cons to visit Taiwan in the Chinese New Year. On the one hand we did experience the bustling and exciting atmosphere of this big festival of Chinese culture, on the other hand some hard times in transportation were inevitable. We landed in Taipei on the 20th of January. We went sightseeing at some main attractions in Taipei on the 21st before departing at night for Chiayi which was a point of departure for the famous Alishan. We also spent some time in Tainan before heading back to Taipei where we stayed for four more days by the end of the vacation. Worth mentioning was the Taiwan High Speed Rail that brought us from city to city in around 20 minutes. It’s a very advanced and well-developed system opened in 2007. It’s also the most effective means of transportation throughout our trip. What I loved most about Taiwan were still all those palatable foods found in night markets.
to Chiayi probably only for the popular scenic spot called Alishan, which is a
range of mountains on Taiwan’s spine and from which Taiwan’s highest mountain,
Yushan, is easily visible. Since the
famous Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi was under maintenance, we took a bus at
Chiayi HSR. The journey took over two
hours including toilet breaks. We went
sightseeing around Alishan by walking around trails indicated on a map provided
by the hotel. We were excited about the
view from Jhushan just before dawn, the top attraction in Alishan. The next morning we woke up so early, took
Alishan Forest Railway up to this peak, and waited there frozen at 0 degree
Celcius. Unfortunately, we saw nothing
due to heavy fog. What a disappointing start
of the day! Back in Chiayi we shopped
and ate again in the big night market.
We also had a massage the night before leaving the city.
is known as one of Taiwan’s oldest cities and cultural capitals for its rich
folk cultures including famous local snack food and extensively preserved
Taoist rites. There are more Buddhist
and Taoist temples in Tainan than any other city in Taiwan. We particularly loved a big night market in
Tainan, as there was a wider variety of mouth-watering snack food. We would have gained some weight if we stayed
longer. It’s nice seeing all those
cultural heritages too, but again we disliked the messy traffic. There wasn’t a well-developed rail system and
there were always long queues at bus stops.
We visited Anping Fort which was built by Dutch in 1624 and had been the
administrative center of the Dutch regime and the hub for trading, and Chikan Lou,
the Chinese style towers built on top of an old Dutch fort called Provintia
where some of the original brick foundations could still be seen in certain
areas of the site.
|Puji Temple, Beitou, Taipei|
The Taipei Metro was adequate, and so we were at ease touring around the city. Main attractions included Mengjia Longshan Temple, National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, and 228 Peace Memorial Park. There were also Taipei 101, the second tallest commercial building in the world, and Beitou hot springs district, where we went for a private hot springs hotel room instead of the public outdoor hot springs. You don’t want to miss such high quality hot springs! Besides, we had a half-day trip and a 1-day trip in two hot spots named Jiufen and Shihfen respectively. Never once had I see crowded trains like those. We could hardly breathe. If you are fine in an extremely jam-packed train, go visit Jiufen, which is a small town filled with both retro Chinese and Japanese style cafes, tea houses, and souvenir shops, as well as stunning views of the ocean, and Shihfen, where you can see the biggest waterfall in Taiwan.
|Two Sisters Pond, Alishan|
|Fort Provintia, Tainan|