Penghu: the Hawaii of Taiwan
October 9-11, 2015
Happy Birthday Taiwan! 10/10 is Independence day in Taiwan. Since it was on a weekend this year I got a 3-day weekend (thanks Taiwan for having a birthday!). I really wanted to go to Penghu Island for the weekend. I asked Alex and Kristen if they wanted to join me. Alex was going to be away, but Kristen said she wanted to come with. To get to Penghu Island you can take a ferry or an airplane. I learned my lesson going to Green Island and opted not to take the ferry and puke my guts out. Despite booking over a month in advance I still couldn’t buy airplane tickets with good times. All the morning tickets were booked on Friday and all the afternoon tickets were booked on Sunday. I quickly bought airplane tickets and found a hotel. Before we knew it Kristen and I were going to Penghu.
On Friday, Kristen and I drove to the Taichung airport around noon. The scooter parking lot was filled so we parked at a private lot across from the airport. They told us 120NT (4USD) for the weekend, but we honestly couldn’t tell and really didn’t have a choice. We parked and walked into the airport. We were there early, as usual, and had plenty of time to check-in. Our flight with Mandarin Airlines was at 1:45pm and very short. By the time we got in the air, I read a couple pages in my book, and drank a complimentary juice box we were landing. We took a cab to our hotel, An-I Sea View Hotel, for 300NT (10USD), and got ready for the rest of the day. It was too cool to go to the beach so we decided to drive to a different part of the island. Our hotel hooked us up with a scooter rental. The rental shop actually picked us up and took us to the shop. We got a scooter for 350NT (11.67USD)/day and were on our way. (I am so glad I got my Taiwanese license. It has made scooter rentals wayyyy easier.) Before getting out of Makong we stopped at a temple. It was empty and quiet, which almost made the place a little eerie.
Our next stop was the Qingwan Cactus Park. Penghu is known as the Hawaii of Taiwan, but I think they have swapped the palm trees for cacti. At the cactus park we got to see plenty of cacti and even got to drink the cactus juice that is a local specialty.
We then made our way to the Fenggui Blowholes. This was where our scooter troubles started. When I turned off the road towards the blowholes the scooter started chugging and then just abruptly turned off. I looked at Kristen and said, “now what?”. I tried turning the scooter back on but it wasn’t working. The check engine light was on, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I suggested we walk around the area to give the scooter time to cool off. We walked along the coast and returned to the scooter. Thankfully, the scooter started and we made it all the way back to our hotel.
We talked to the front desk about the scooter and the man that had been very helpful before said he would take it to the shop and see what was wrong with the scooter. He then recommended a restaurant for us and we made our way there…or so we thought. Penghu’s streets are not straight and have forks in all of them. You pick the wrong way in the fork and you will be lost. Eventually we were tired of walking so we stopped at a Japanese restaurant and had a delicious meal.
We came back to the hotel and were told that our scooter was “fine”. I drove it around and the check engine light didn’t come back on so I figured it was okay.
Kristen and I woke up early on Saturday morning so we could have a full day. Our hotel had been so great for the price already, but breakfast was not that great. Oh well! We were going to venture around the other side of Penghu, but about 15 minutes into our drive the check engine light came back on again. We were not happy! I drove it back to the shop and they gave us a different scooter. I had filled the previous scooter with gas and wondered if I would have to fill this new one. My question was quickly answered when the shop worker started siphoning the gas into the different scooter.
We were off again! Kristen and I saw a lot in the morning, including: the Zhongtun Windmill Power Park, Penghu Great Bridge, Whale Cave, Xiaomenyu, Erkan Ancient Residences, Daguoye Columnar Basalt, Niuxinshan, the Xiyu East Fort and West Fort, Neian Beach, and lastly Xiyu Lighthouse. Everything was super easy to find with the help of my tourist map I had picked up in the airport and with all the brown signs.
It was lunchtime and we were both hungry. I drove around a fishing village, but with no luck. We ended up having a 7-eleven lunch along the dock with a lot of other families who were doing the same thing. Through the help of the map and pictures I was able to decipher that the beach we had took pictures at earlier was actually the beach we had picked to swim at. It was so rocky earlier that we decided we didn’t want to go there. I spotted people lying on a beach on the opposite side of the road, so we went there. The beach was nice enough but the entire island of Penghu was very windy. We were laying on the beach trying to enjoy the sun but couldn’t because we were being blasted with sand every other minute. We went into the water and then sat on the dock for awhile.
The wind just wasn’t worth lying down again. Having gotten enough sun we got back onto the scooter and headed back towards Magong. We stopped at the Tongliang Great Banyan and a temple before making it all the way back.
In Magong, we showered the beach off and then got ready for dinner. I dropped the scooter off and then we started walking around the Zhongyang Old Street where the four-eyed well is located. We even found the Shuncheng Gate before we found dinner.
Penghu has a lot of historical sites and beautiful views, but it doesn’t have a lot of good places to eat. I was so hungry I finally Googled some places and we went there to eat. The food wasn’t that bad and the place was really busy.
Both of us were tired from the day so we walked back to our hotel and rested.
We heard fireworks at around 9:00pm, but our window didn’t face the show. We were both so lazy that we didn’t go outside.
We were up and out the door by 7:00am on Sunday morning. Our hotel gave us a free shuttle to the airport, which was great! Our flight was at 8:10am, so we were back in the Taichung area by 9:00am. Our scooter parking had ended up only costing 90NT (3USD) for both of our scooters. I didn’t understand, but then again they were drinking at 9:00am so I wasn’t going to question it.
Even though Penghu Island was very windy it was also very beautiful. Another island checked off my list and a great weekend!