Taiwan midway report

Sunday, June 08, 2008

So I've been in Taiwan almost a full week and here's a short little report on what we've done since arriving here.

We touched down in Hong Kong and waited 40 minutes on Monday for our transit flight to Taipei. We finally arrived in Taiwan, and it was raining... it was about dinner time, so we just had time to check in and go for shabu shabu. We were leaving early the next day, so we hit the sack.

The next morning, we awoke early to start our journey around the entire island. It was early but the sun was already up, and it was drizzling, which could pretty much describe most of our trip so far. The nine of us packed into a van and headed to Alishan. Pictures are not with me yet, but I was told it was the Taiwanese version of Cameron Highlands. As usual, the cold did not agree with me, but somehow I managed to come down from there ok. We tried to catch the sunrise which was supposed to be very magnificent from up the mountain, but again, due to rain, we went back disappointed.

We visited the Sun Moon Lake too, which had a lot of nice sceneries. Taking the boat ride across the lake was fun I suppose, but hardly as exciting. Still, the lake was quite impressive. We stayed over there for a night.

The next morning, we went to an aboriginal theme park, ostensibly to see the different tribes that lived in that area. Interestingly, they reminded me a lot about our very own Iban and Kadazan tribes. The theme park also had lots of fun and exciting rides, and I really enjoyed one ride; my first time on a hanging coaster. Sitting right in the front was really exciting!

We rushed a little to catch our train, which was a High Speed Rail (Read: Somewhat like a bullet train, although just a little slower... ). That was pretty impressive IMHO. The train flew like one quarter the length of the island in an hour.

We arrived and caught a bus to Ken Ting, the southernmost tip of Taiwan. It's a seaside area famous for its street stalls, sort of like a daily night market. We had a lot of Taiwanese finger and hawker food. They also had various unique things not usually found in a night market, like game stalls and temporary tattoos. Still, it was quite fun walking around trying out the various unique food... like wild boar meat (which we have officially dubbed TK).

Ken Ting is also famous for its beach and water sports, although not quite the water sports that you think. They have jet skis and banana boat rides, but they also had other more exciting rides, like the donut, or the 'popeye'. Both are similar to the banana boat, but at a much higher intensity. Failure to hold on tightly would result in falling into the sea. Still, they were very very fun, but tiring.

We also visited for the very first time, a hot spring! It was certainly interesting as I never really understood why people would want to go through so much effort just for a shower, but now I do... It's really comfortable! I also managed to try some of the more unique 'therapies', like those leg biting fish, and tea extract. The fish were really fun. It's interesting how they swarm you the moment you put your feet into the water. It's not painful at all although it takes a little getting used to so you don't get too ticklish. I enjoyed it thoroughly. All the various springs had different temperatures depending on what they were for, and we tried just about every single one of them. It was definitely a very fun experience.

So, after a day out at the beach (which thank goodness was free from rain), an evening at the hot spring, and night marketing, we left Ken Ting and caught a bus and train which took us to Hua Lien, which is on the east side of Taiwan. Hua Lien is a relatively big city, and we stayed in a very nice little blue hostel. Somehow, the landlady seemed to favor Ann Leong a lot. In Hua Lien we actually had the opportunity to see a Dragon Boat Race, although it was a bit too sunny for us. We also visited Taroko National Park, and took quite a lot of nice photos there. The highlight of our Hua Lien trip had to be the white water rafting though. Unfortunately, yours truly felt a little unwell half way through, but it was definitely an experience worth having, even though it was only half way. We travelled for about 3++ km downstream, and it was both tiring and hot, but still very enjoyable. It was definitely one of the best parts of the trip!

So after two days in Hua Lien, we bid adieu to the city which gave us our first taste of the internet in such a long time, and headed back to Taipei, which is where I am at the moment. Our touring part of the trip is over, but we still have the shopping part. So far, we've visited Xi Men Ding, but that place is just a little too 'hip' for my taste. I really ought to be shopping for more working clothes anyway.

I'm signing off here. There's plenty more to write about, not to mention photos to put up, but for now, this will have to do. It's been a really fun trip and I'm still looking forward to the next few days.

Oh, and I'm totally well now thanks!

Posted by Gerald at 6/08/2008 08:11:00 PM