Part of what I’m going to write happened on Friday so it’s not exactly the weekend but anyway….school was over for that week and it was time to travel somewhere else.
First stop – Changhua(彰化). We tried to make something really crazy those 3 days – explore pretty much everything in the middle Taiwan region. For that purpose we had to leave Taoyuan really early in the morning so around 5:45 on Friday we boarded the train to Changhua(which was going through Taichung – our last stop). I don’t know which train exactly we boarded because there are several types in Taiwan which vary in speed and routes although I think this one was pretty fast since we got there in around 2 hours. It is really strange to depart on such a trip since neither me nor Vivian knew where exactly are we going…I had only the slightest idea about those places but other than that it was up to us to find out what was in there.
Changhua(according to my guide book) was a place that had one major sight to see and that was the huge statue of Buddha. Someone might say that one sight is not worth spending the time but for me that place was very exciting since the whole area where the statue was placed was a hill from which you can see the whole city and around it is a park where many people practice Tai Chi(if that’s the right name to use).
The statue was hollow and inside it were 3 floors where different parts of Buddha’s life are portrayed. Behind the statue was a temple that was also a marvellous sight.
I think that whole place was really beautiful, but we had to move on so after that we decided to walk back to the train station from where we got the train to our next stop. The city centre wasn’t anything special so we didn’t waste much time in there.
Lugang – It is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan. Although not really big the city has many temples, one of which is very old and I think very famous as well(Longshan Temple) The trip from Changhua took around 30 minutes with the local bus. When we arrived there it was around 10:30 so we had 2 hours to walk around. During that time we were able to visit most of the temples in the city and try the local food.
After that we had to go back to Changhua and get the train south to our next stop – Ershuei(二水 – literally: 2 waters). Ershuei itself is not a tourist attraction at all. There was a monkey farm in the city which we didn’t manage see because the trains don’t pass regularly through the station and we had only 20 minutes to walk around, but I don’t think we missed that much after all.
Jiji – the 2nd stop on the Jiji Branch Rail Line(which is one of the oldest in Taiwan dating from 1922). The city was very small but it was very interesting in a way that so many nice things were packed in such a small area. When we arrived in there we rented that for 2 hours
From here we went to a war museum. I don’t really know how to call the place because it basically looked like a park where a few tanks, 2 airplanes and a boat were place together.
After that we just rode around and enjoyed the views 🙂
Shueli(水里) – We arrived there after the sunset so we couldn’t see much of it during daytime. Once again the city wasn’t much of a tourist attraction so it was only a stop on the way to our next destination – Sunmoon Lake. One interesting thing that happened to me in there was that i was able to try the betel nut. I don’t know if it is really that famous outside Taiwan but it is one of the things that people associate the country with. So briefly stated – nothing special – it’s like eating grass, but it really affected me fast so instead of feeling well i felt bad so I decided not to try my luck with another one.
The bus left Shueli at 6AM which meant we had to wake up before that and I think it was very close for us to miss the bus. I don’t remember if i set any alarm for that day but somehow I managed to wake up 🙂 After 30 minutes we arrived at the lake but since it was so early the place looked pretty empty. Sunmoon lake is the biggest lake in Taiwan and one of the most famous tourist destinations.
Number one of the morning schedule was to visit the nearby Longfong Temple and then take the Maolanshan hinking trail which was going to take us to through the tea plantations in and then to the weather station which had a great view on the area. That morning “exercise” took us around 2 hours but it was OK because after we went back most of the stores were open already and we could get some breakfast.
The bus that was going around the lake was leaving the station every 1 hour and going along the eastern shore. We had 5 destinations to see but unfortunately the time wasn’t enough for everything. We stopped at Syuanguang Temple first and from there walked to Syanzang Temple which was a little different than the others because I didn’t see any Taoist deities inside.
After we got the next bus we had 2 choices – either visit the Aboriginal village of Itashio or go to Wenwu temple. Too bad I didn’t estimate the time right because for some reason I thought the bus is getting us faster from the temple than the village just because the first one is closer to the station(even though it’s exactly the same bus). For that reason we decided to go see the temple…
I don’t regret going there but we missed a festival that was going on right at that time in the village. What was worse was that we missed the next bus so we had to hang around there for another 1 hour until we can get back…and it got boring.
Puli – after arriving there we had to take a taxi to visit the nearby Chung Tai Chan Monastery(中台禪寺) I didn’t realise that the monastery was that far and pretty much no one goes there unless with a tourist bus. There is no public transport to that direction and there were no taxis in there as well so we got really lucky that the driver gave us his card so we called him after we finished walking around there.
There weren’t many places inside where pictures are allowed but in some of the rooms we saw some pieces of art which were amazing and probably priceless – gold statues, jade jewellery, etc… One thing that is also interesting to mention is that the temple is not really old and the cost of building it was around $10 000 000(US). I got a bottle of holy water from there as a gift. I think it was truly a temple because I didn’t see any souvenir shops – after all I don’t quite associate Buddhism with selling cheap key holders and other toys. What I also found interesting is that in every temple there’s some literature that is absolutely free – as long as people want to read it. In my case the problem was that everything was written in Chinese so I had to skip.
After that we went back to Puli where we had approximately 1 hour to spend before we leave to Taichung. We stopped at the local brewery where I wanted to buy a bottle of wine. It was really crowded inside and when I wanted to ask something about the wine the salesperson didn’t pay much attention to us which was really annoying and I couldn’t buy anything from there.
After that we had only one temple to visit – Mazu Temple.
Taichung – 3rd biggest city in Taiwan.
To be honest I don’t think I saw much of the city. When we arrived there it was already dark outside and after we met one AIESECer we went to the biggest night market in the city. I don’t know exactly how big it was since we never got to see the end of it but that place was CROWDED…we bought some food…checked the prices in the Adidas store, but I still wasn’t sure if I want to buy anything. I think I’ll wait until I get to Taipei.
That night I didn’t take any pictures for very obvious reasons. By the way we found a hotel near the railway station so the next day we were able to explore the city without the need to carry all our stuff with us.
Sunday – the last day of our journey. We woke up around 9 even though we left the hotel around 10. Taichung turned out to be pretty hot that day and I felt really tired from the previous 2 days.
The picture below is a real proof of how studying English in school can be important later in life 😀
In the morning we visited a park that was close to the library…not that the park was really big, but it seemed nice 🙂 After that we went to a Confucian Temple. The picture below is of the ice cream we ate. What was really weird about it is that it had beans inside 🙂
We got the train at 6PM to Taoyuan and that pretty much concluded our long weekend…I feel guilty because I realised just 2 days ago that yesterday was Vivian’s birthday and didn’t have any time to look for any present 😦 I hate it when such thing happens because I know how it feels to have your birthday in another country and all your friends are back home. I am really glad that the AIESECers thought of that and prepared a surprise party for her. The pig cake was very funny but a rat cake might have been more suitable…since it’s still the year of the rat.