Visitor & Sun Moon Lake

December 6 & 7, 2014

I have lived in Fengyuan for a few months and I finally got my first visitor, my friend Rachael. I had just gotten in a minor accident the night before so I was ready for some interaction with a good friend and familiar face.

Saturday morning, after a rough start of getting down to Fengyuan, Rachael arrived in Fengyuan. She had been craving some cheese so we picked up some Pizza Hut pizzas, walked around for a bit, and then hopped on the scooter for a small Taichung tour with a few of my favorite places in the area.

The first place I took Rachael was Rainbow Village in Nantun District. Having been there before, but I was more than okay getting to look at the little designs that are painted on the walls again. One of the best things about art is you can look at piece several times and still see something new that you had previously missed.

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Once Rachael was done seeing Rainbow Village I scooted us to the Botanical Gardens in Taichung. (I was really grateful for Rachael’s patience. I was a little on edge because of my little accident I had had the day before.) It only cost 20NT (0.66USD) to get in and took less than an hour to walk around. Not having much of an intellect about fauna I enjoyed the greenery, but didn’t really know what the differences between the plants were. There was a cool person-made waterfall inside and a very small aquarium of fish and other sea animals. It was a nice afternoon activity.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Waterfall picture

Waterfall picture Photo cred: Rachael

Next stop was the home of bubble tea: Chun Shui Tang. We ordered a classic milk bubble tea and some homemade bread. Everything was delicious, but pricey, due to it being the “original shop”. My friend Anthony also met up with us at Chun Shui Tang so we were able to catch up and have a b*tch session about work. Afterwards we walked to my favorite ice cream shop. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name because it is in Chines, but this shop is where you can get honey comb ice cream. More sugar for me! Yummmmm!

Honey Ice Cream Cone

Honey Ice Cream Cone

After searching around a bit for my scooter (all the alleyways looked the same!) we said our goodbyes to Anthony and were on our way to Feng Chia Night Market. We spent a few hours walking around Feng Chia checking out shops. I was able to buy a sweater and some warm sweatpants for the cool nights we have been having in Taiwan.

We scooted back to my apartment and spent the rest of the evening eating pizza, sipping wine, dying Rachael’s hair, and watching a Christmas movie classic: Home Alone.

Waking up the next morning we got ready and went to eat breakfast at Shark Bites Toast. It is a little bit more of an expensive breakfast option, but I love the breakfast there. Then off to the train station we went. Rachael and I do this thing where we say we are going to get up and go do things early in the morning and then we don’t (haha). By the time we took the train to Taichung and walked to the Nantou Bus Company bus stop we weren’t able to take the next bus to Sun Moon Lake until 11:30am.

The overall cost of our round-trip bus ticket to Sun Moon Lake cost around 300NT (10USD). We arrived at Sun Moon Lake around 1:00pm. Getting off the bus and looking around we kind of were like, okay now what. We asked an information desk attendant which way to go to walk to the lake. We started walking in that direction and not even 100 feet from where we got off the bus we spotted a shop where you could rent scooters for 100NT (3USD) an hour. Sign me up! The whole process of signing some papers, leaving a form of identification for liability reasons, and getting helmets took less than 15 minutes. After filling our tanks with gasoline we were on our way, scooting around the lake.

Me on the rental

Me on the rental

Rachael on her rental

Rachael on her rental

After scooting around a little bit we arrived at a large temple. Wunwu Temple was a rather large temple with several different sections to it and a beautiful view of the lake. If you walked through the temple and up concrete stairs you could walk around a peace park at the top of the hill.

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Wunwu Temple

Wunwu Temple

Once we toured the temple we were back on our scooters. The next stop was the Sun Moon Lake wharf. We walked through the Ita Thao aboriginal village area to get there. Since the discovery of this area the Ita Thao have modernized their village area to accommodate the tourists that come to Sun Moon Lake. Since we were there on a Sunday there were several people there eating and buying aboriginal goods and then taking pictures on the wharf. Although I saw some cool trinkets I wasn’t in the mood to buy anything. However, Rachael was able to buy some Christmas presents for her family without breaking the bank.

We thought about going up the gondola (ski lift type thing) to the top of a mountain right next to Sun Moon Lake. I have been told that there are aboriginal tribal activities at the top, but we simply didn’t have the time to go up to the top, do things, and then come back down. We continued around the lake. We stopped at another temple about three-fourths around the lake.

Syuentzang Temple is supposed to be related to the Thao tribe as well. We didn’t go inside, but there was an amazing view of the lake outside of the temple.

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If we had more time at the lake we could have gone on the hiking trails, rented a bike, and much more. There are several things to do there. It wasn’t just a bus trip to see a lake like we had originally thought it would be.

On the last stretch around Sun Moon Lake we reached an open area with a bike path along the road. We weren’t sure if we were even supposed to be driving on that road, but we were anyways. It was a great last view of the lake before we went back to the scooter shop.

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Dropping our scooters off we paid 250NT (8USD) for a little over 2 hours of touring around the lake. Wanting to get back to Fengyuan we got back on the bus. Due to traffic it took 2-2.5 hours to get back to Taichung. We took the train back to Fengyuan and went to the temple night market. There we ate some questionable dumplings that I will never eat again. We then went to Amazing 63, which is one of my favorite coffee shops in Fengyuan. Sipping some coffee on the balcony we just chatted about stuff that was happening in our lives.

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Then it was sadly time for Rachael to go. I dropped her off at the train station and wished her a safe trip home. It was so nice having a visitor and a nice reminder that I have someone in Taiwan if I do get in an accident.

I wonder who my next visitor will be…