Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day Two [Cingjing (清境) -> Sun Moon Lake(日月潭) and Ita Thao (伊達邵)]: Taiwan Trip 2014

The sleeping bug hidden in my body was relentless in its persuasion for me to forgo the NT$400 Hehuanshan sunrise tour when my phone alarm started ringing at 3.30am but i am not one to waste money like this!

Maybe i should when the chill hit my spines as soon as i pulled my blanket away. Nevertheless, we did go for the tour (as some of you might have recalled from the post here). After breakfast at Misty Villa, it's time to check out and proceed straight to Sun Moon Lake! 

I must have been too shagged as there wasn't any picture i took during the short journey of around ninety minutes! The mini shuttle, arranged at the minsu and cost around NT$450 per person, dropped us right outside this Sun Moon Lake Service Station for Bus & Boat at Shueishe Wharf (水社碼頭)!

Well, not literally by the pier though and we were required to go round the corner after buying a one-way boat ticket to Ita Thao Wharf, where our choice of accommodation is located. 

Sun Moon Lake was way more crowded than Cingjing and i bet it would take a while should we decide to stop and go through all the shops along our way. We were focused; the humongous luggage we lugged along must be deposited at the hotel the sooner, the better!

Friends warned me before the trip that Sun Moon Lake wasn't as spectacular as it was claimed to be in many guidebooks and on travel programmes. My expectation of it was therefore lowered although i still find Taiwan's biggest freshwater lake to be a calm natural beauty that took my breath away momentarily. 

It could have been a perfect place to nurse a broken heart or calm your stressful nerves if the busloads after busloads of tourists can disappear together with their incredibly loud chatter!

Anyway, no point talking about it since tourism is one easy way to perk up the economy and judging from the towering hotels, some of which have yet to start their business, surrounding Shueishe pier, the tourist numbers would only increase in the future.

Note: when you buy the ferry tickets, do clarify with the person at the ticketing counter on the platform to wait for the boat and what to look out for (boat's name, the uniform of the operator's personnel etc) so that you know you are waiting for the right ferry!

By the way, there were quite a number of operators and it might be good to check around; i paid NT$150 for this one-way ticket to Ita Thao although another company charged us NT$100. There was an option for unlimited boat ride which i honestly thought is a marketing gimmick. There wasn't sufficient time to tour the attractions and if you really love to take boats, go and sign up for star cruise. 

The majestic Wen Wu temple (文武廟) from a distance! We didn't manage to pay it a visit due to the limited time we had in Sun Moon Lake. Shall do so in the future! 

This little island is called Lalu Island (拉魯島) and took up a much bigger area before the infamous 921 earthquake shrunk the size to its present state in year 1999. At the moment, only members of the Thao tribe can access the island; considering the fact that it is a sacred place in their culture.

Not too far from Lalu Island is another wharf known as Xuanguang pier (玄光碼頭). The structure right on top of the hill housed the Xuanguang Temple which we will visit on the next day. Another popular destination for this pier would be the store selling Ah Ma Tea Leaves Eggs

A traditional aboriginal style boat for the fishermen; one advantage of taking the ferry is that there would be a guide who picks up the microphone to explain the attractions / structures seen along the journey. For example, he explained that the boat appeared empty because the fisherman had already planted the net and would come back at night to check his haul.

Said to be highest lighthouse (planted at an elevation of 748 meters) in the whole world, it was also humourously labelled as the laziest since it has not been lighted for a long time!

Continuing our way to the next leg of the ferry ride and also the destination for us; Ita Thao Pier (otherwise known as Itashao pier, 伊達邵碼頭).

Closed up look - from the above picture, you would be able to see the hotel i booked; Cherng Yuan Hotel (澄園渡假旅店). For my review of this supposedly minsu, click HERE.

Saying goodbye to the ferry that took us on a ride (pun intended). It was supposed to a direct route from Shueishe to Xuanguang and finally to Itashao; the actual route we experienced was Shuieshe to Xuanguang to Shuieshe to Xuanguang and then to Itashao! Can't complain as it was damn worth it for NT$150 though.

Main street of Ita Thao was right ahead of us!

After leaving our luggage at Cherng Yuan Hotel, it's time to explore the street! I could hardly wait as i could see many snack stalls along the street and we were so famished!!!

See what i meant!?!!!?!?!

Bought two sticks of authentic wild boar Taiwanese sausages at NT$30 each. Not too bad but short of being amazing enough for further mention.

The red tea roasted bamboo chickens sold at the next stall were very tempting (despite the horrifying way it was hooked through its eye)! We didn't try it in the end as we wanted to reserve our stomachs for other things!

Aboriginal attire could be purchased if your company is known to host themed D&Ds! At least the design here has a more authentic feel and it's likely they would be more comfortable too!

Dehua Street (德化街) which connects the other two main streets at Itashao. This street has a monster-themed retail shop and also an open air cafe (shall come to the cafe at the later part of this post).

Balloon man! Seeing this sight reminded me of Jovyn who loves balloons! I missed her so much when i was in Taiwan, especially her two bubbly cheeks!!

Corgi on the street! In the past, Corgis count as one of my favourite canine breeds and i would have loved to get my hands on one if not for one serious problem; their shedding!

This shop sold rice stuffed in chicken wings and it displayed a lot of accolades! Didn't want any as i prefer not to have any carbohydrates; give me meat anytime.

Actually, we were rushing for time to take the Sun Moon Lake ropeway! Before that, let's go through the short cut; Ita Thao Lakeside Trail. Walking the many trails is a must as it would give you a clearer insight to the lake's beauty and ecosystem.

For example, the crystal clear emerald water near the shore and the numerous yellow fishes swimming underneath the surface!

Took the cable where we were rewarded with a magnificent view of Sun Moon Lake! Click HERE for more information on this journey.

Highlight of our Sun Moon Lake stay; the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村)! I would strongly recommend visitors to pay a visit to this affordable multiple-themed park! Want to know what to expect? Click HERE.

Making our way back to our hotel via the lakeside trail again after having a damn shiok time at the culture village. There wasn't any step on the trail so the walk wasn't as bad as the above photograph might infer.

Wah! A truck selling fresh produce and meat like a mobile market! This would have resulted in a hefty fine by NEA should it be seen in Singapore! Vegetables would be fine but the environment agency is very touchy when it comes to fresh meat, given the hot and humid climate in Singapore.

After a two-hour rest at the hotel (on Alex's insistence as usual), it's dinnertime at Fuyuan restaurant. This time round, we were looking forward to having a local meal! For my review, click here.

Although many shops around our hotel have closed and the street seemed dead, the scenario was different on the adjacent Dehua and Yiyong streets (义勇街).

Money Coming Souvenir Shop - this would attract the attention of pundits (like my mom, if i may add). Quirky items, many of which i have never seen before, were for sale. Prices were pretty steep in my opinion and i have already attained the "travel" enlightenment; buy only if there is a use for it.

Saw quite a number of stalls offering this tau kwa dish known as happy tau kwa!

100% vegetarian, i asked Alex if he wanted to share this carbohydrate-rich snack with me. He shook his bloody head and i have to miss the opportunity! If only my mom was with me....

Owl Workshop - rest assured that alive and kicking owls are neither being tortured nor committed to illegal slavery. Owl lovers (many of whom are likely Harry Potter fans) would, however, love to get their hands on the many owl-shaped, owl-faced, owl-related merchandises in the shop!

Cute woah!

On one hand, i was saying how much i missed Jovyn when i was in Taiwan. On the other hand, i was commenting to Alex if we should buy a cane from the above shop for my naughty niece and nephew. The quality was really good and the swipe; clean, quick and smooth.

Street view of Yiyong Street; quite crowded right?

A parrot in one of the shops facing the waterfront. We initially thought it was fake and was about to grab it by the neck when it started moving its eyes! Haha.

Night view of Sun Moon Lake View and right opposite was Shueishe! With so much light, i know why the lighthouse was never put to use for such a long period of time.

As we were strolling back to Dehua street, a nice whiff of freshly toasted sponge cake (雞蛋糕) stopped us in our tracks. We looked to our left and there it was; a makeshift stall designed as SpongeBob SquarePants.

We could not resist and ordered a box as they don't sell by pieces! :( I could not remember how much it was even though i didn't remember paying a lot for them.

Shall have Patrick Star! Piping hot, they were seriously delicious and definitely comfort desserts in that cool weather at Sun Moon Lake. Before long, we cleaned up the whole box!

What would you need after all that sponge cakes? Drinks! Hence, we returned to Dehua Street and paid for two cups of hot drinks; hot chocolate for Alex and latte for me (late night coffee doesn't really give me insomnia)! 

As many shops had started to pull down the shutters, we relaxed in the open air seating area behind the tea 18 cafe. p.s. ask for their wifi password!! Their data speed was way faster than the hotel. 

Feline lovers would enjoy the appearance of a number of cats! The one in the picture was the most affectionate and it even had its own bowtie! So kawaii!! The rest of the night was spent watching movies in the hotel room! 

Location Map
As above. Hope this would give you a rough idea of where the places are. It isn't comprehensive but the town wasn't big and very easy to navigate. 

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.


  1. I would like to pay a visit to this place as a one day trip.
    Cause I don't really want to stay overnight here. What are the places you recommend in this area if you are in my situation.

    1. Hm.....there are day trips available and taxi drivers from Taichung would likely be willing to take up your offer. From experience, i don't think it's sufficient to cover Sun Moon Lake in one day.

      Click HERE for the contact details of a taxi driver i got to know in Taichung; it's on one of the pictures.