Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day Three Itinerary [Sun Moon Lake(日月潭) > Taichung (臺中)]: TaiwanTrip 2014

All rise and shine for a wonderful view of Sun Moon Lake (SML) after a good night sleep at Cherng Yuan Hotel @ Ita Thao! We could have slept in for a while longer but it would be a shame if i didn't step foot into any of the famous temples in SML!

Now, I Ta Thao (or Itashao) has in fact two temples that appeared very near on google map and i did have the intention to trek along the main road. Thankfully, the hotel staff notified us that it could be quite a long walk and his advice was to take the lake tour bus instead.

The town is very easy to navigate and you just have to remember to walk away from the lake and look out for the main road that could not be missed! Oh, the garbage truck (that yellow vehicle) in Taiwan was so cute; it chimed a chirpy morning melody that put a smile on our faces!

See, even the dog was mesmerised! Frankly, being a garbage collector is an honest job and we should always be grateful for their existence and respect their occupation, regardless of whether they are foreigners!

As Taiwan practices left hand driving, don't cross the road! I made that mistake and almost missed this bus; luckily, my sense of direction has yet to fail me! By the way, it's basic courtesy to let the elderly board first!

At NT$27 per ticket, it wasn't cheap for its rundown condition and a frequency that runs on a minimum 30-minute interval. However, please keep in mind that it covers major SML attractions along its route and should not be compared to a usual public bus service. Should you require to make multiple stops, do purchase the NT$80 one-day pass.

Bus journey to Xuanguang Temple took us fifteen minutes and from the way the vehicle navigated the road, i am extremely grateful to have heeded the advice of the hotel staff! The walk could have taken us at least 45 minutes and that's a conservative estimation!

Picturesque view of Shueishe town from Xuanguang pier! For my post on the teeny weeny temple and the ah ma tea leaves egg, please click here and here.

Map of Sun Moon Lake attached for your reference. I would strongly suggest you visit the official SML website (in English) at which proves to be very informative for my trip!

Too lazy to take the tour bus; hence, we bought ferry tickets which would have brought us back to Itashao to check out of our hotel, pick up our luggage and ferry us from Itashao pier to Shueishe pier! Per trip ticket cost NT$100 and day trip ticket (which allows for unlimited ferry rides) was NT$150; it's a no-brainer which one we chose. p.s. ticket indicated NT$300 but we only paid NT$150 per person.

Aboriginal street performers belting out songs in Hokkien! Are you aware that i love to sing Hokkien songs? And singing does help to improve your grasp of this dialect!

Maltese spotted at the pier.

After two days in SML, i am somewhat more seasoned in checking which platform to take the ferry and what to look out for to ensure i am boarding the one belonging to the right company.

Saying bye bye to Itashao!

Wenwu temple is another famous temple in SML; pity i didn't have enough time to check out the complex which looked vast even from the ferry! Well, praying for 4D or even better, TOTO winnings so that i could bring my parents for a trip to SML. I bet they will love it!

Reached Shueishe in less than 12 minutes! What we needed to do then was to walk back to the same place that our shuttle from Cingjing dropped us. That's the place where i could buy the coach tickets to Taichung; our next destination!

By right, i should have walked this way. By left, i thought we should explore Shueishe a bit since we never did get a chance to check out the gateway of Sun Moon Lake.

The dissuasive look on the golden retriever's face didn't deter me at all. My apparent lack of conformity could sometimes lead to greater discovery, for better or for worse.

Let's have an example; an unimpressive looking robot that attracted our attention simply because it wasn't your usual cardboard, metal, cement, pottery, plastic model.

It was literally made up of hundreds of mobile phones! Darn, i could even identify some of the older models; in fact, the LG flipped phone is still in my possession!

One mode of transport in SML is the bicycle and if time permits, this might be one good way to check out the nearby areas. I didn't ask but it did seem that per usage (despite the duration) is priced at NT$100 (less than S$5).

Our coach tickets to Taichung were purchased from this Nan Tou bus counter in a building opposite the SML police & fire station. There are other "public transport" ways to get the second largest city in Taiwan although you may wish to note that you are required to transfer at Puli, a major town that connects to Cingjing and SML.

Map as above for easy reference.

We were just in time to board the double-decked coach! We were pretty lucky as i think we got the last two tickets; the coach was in full capacity!

Almost forgot to inform the price of each ticket; NT$190! There is definitely a faster way to get to Taichung; private shuttle which might set our budget back by at least two to three times the amount we paid for this coach.

I understand from online information that the journey would take us around an hour plus, which should be bearable for my pointy ass. Anyway, i love double decked coach which would allow me to see more things on an elevated 'platform'.

Furthermore, i can take unflattering pictures of others with a much reduced risk of being spotted! From the above picture, i bet you would have spotted the words "檳榔" (which means betel nuts). 

Many Chinese would have remembered the news quite a number of years ago on the betel nut beauties (檳榔西施) who would wear revealing attire in order to attract the largely male clientele. From the many pictures i took of the betel nut stalls, i can only say the trend of employing 檳榔西施 has declined TREMENDOUSLY.

From a distance, the many tall and slender trees may be mistaken as coconut trees even though the high altitude would render that quite impossible. These trees are areca palms but they are more known as betel nut trees as the seeds are commonly wrapped in betel-nut leaves for chewing. 

Profits must be good, judging by the huge areca plantation that filled up the entire hill!

Trees don't interest me as much as tombs! It happened that the period i went was during Qing Ming festival and likewise in Taiwan, many families would arrange for a visit to clean the tombs of their ancestors.

There were notable differences in the tombs, i noticed. As you can see, only yellow paper was used when it is more common to have coloured paper in Singapore. Many headstones didn't have a photograph and there was strong emphasis to indicate the surname of the deceased. 

I guess i have to borrow this book i chanced upon in the Chinese library at Chinatown Point (Singapore) where there was quite a bit of discussion on the issue of funeral in Chinese history and its changes in this contemporary times.

Yellow blossoms! It's unfortunate i didn't manage to see any widespread blossoms in Taiwan yet back home, Singapore was facing an unprecedented blossom boom after a long spell of dry weather! 

Reaching Puli, one of the few stops in our journey, which is a key town connecting Taichung to places like Cingjing, Sun Moon Lake and even the Eastern part of Taiwan. 

It might be worth a visit in the future although from what i understand, Puli is renowned in Taiwan for its wine production, a refreshment i don't particularly fancy. 

Having said that, i am excited by the mere thought that i could do tandem paragliding! Yes, i am afraid of heights but we should always challenge ourselves! And i believe the adrenaline rush would be worth the feat that comes along! 

烏溪 - the 119.13-kilometer river that was rated the 6th longest in Taiwan. Once you see this and the appearance of high rise buildings, it means that you are reaching Taichung! 

Another tell tale sign; the high speed rail! Shall be blogging soon on the business class tickets that we purchased for the trip to Taipei. Do look out for it. :)

Pink blossoms this time!

After close to two hours, we finally arrived at Taichung Railway Station (臺中車站)! Nice architecture that hailed from the era when Taiwan was still colonised by the Japanese. 

Timetable for Sun Moon Lake -> Taichung. I found it a bit weird as the coach left around 20 minutes before the departure time of 11.40am. I could, however, attribute it to a bus that had already filled up. Moral of the story? Arrive earlier to buy your tickets as the bus would depart upon reaching full capacity. 

I timed; it took us less than three minutes to drag our luggage from Taichung station to 53 hotel! For those interested to read my review on 53 Hotel, please click here

We were allowed to check in before the mandatory 3pm! Yippeee! After checking with the super duper friendly counter staff on the actual location of Yizhong, it's time to check out the city!

Saw a freaking long queue right outside an atas looking patisserie even though we didn't attempt to queue up. For your benefit, everyone was eating ice creams on waffle bowls and from my internet search, the place is funnily known as Miyahara Ophthalmology (宫原眼科) even though it was obvious only desserts were served. 

I might love food yet i was more intrigued by this eerie-looking office block right opposite. Games like Left4Dead really screw up our minds and it's hard not to imagine that this would be a great place for a zombie horde. 

As i mentioned in my 53 Hotel review, having the map provided by the hotel would be very helpful to get around places around the hotel. Do note that Fengjia is out of the way and would require the help of public buses or taxis. 

Okay, a billboard advertisement for 53 Hotel! Damn, i must have liked my choice of accommodation so much to have advertised it so often in this post. Haha.

青草街 - there was no green grass in that area. The only product that i could relate to was the 青草油 that my mom loved to use on my wounds when i was younger! Don't laugh; the oil stings the wounds as if they are tearing apart! 

繼光商店街 - a pedestrian-only shopping street dated back to the Japanese colonial period, it was said to house many heritage shops that make it very popular during the Chinese New Year season. 

This banner was hilarious!!! Pants Kingdom - "even the biggest of birds can fit in our pants". Sorry, you mean the cage or the bird? 

Such adorable helmets!! How come we don't see them in Singapore? Well, bet it has something to do with safety regulations. Do you know that the Taiwanese government used to be quite relaxed on the need for bikers to wear helmets? 

Yizhong Street Market! For my lengthy post on this vibrant market, click here

Finally, the humongous Fengjia Night Market which I doubt i have covered all the sections! For an even longer post on the night market, check out By the time i reached the hotel at the end of the day, it was already 12.30am! 


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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