The good ones also serve as guides. And to minimise your expenses, do stay at one of the many “ming su” (homestay). Most of the time you will really be out enjoying the sights, sounds and food. So skip the expensive hotels unless you prefer otherwise. One basic requirement when going to Taiwan is being proficient in Mandarin, as most communication will be in that language. To be honest, I had a great time brushing up on my rusty Mandarin (also my Hokkien which their older generation speak) during my trip. If nature features heavily on your itineraries, the Taiwan “fun quotient” can be a hit or miss affair. I have had friends who encountered a massive landslide in Taroko Gorge which blocked the main arterial road between east and west of the island. That necessitated a re-routing and loss of precious holiday time. There were also those moments when the sunrise and sunset just didn’t happen, after a two hours drive up the mountains.
My 10 days in Taiwan
Da Hu Strawberry Farms
Our 10 days trip kicked off from Taichung after an overnight 5 hours flight via Scoot Airlines. We visited the strawberry farms of Da Hu (in the Miaoli County), also known as the strawberry capital of Taiwan.
The local farm produce includes a range of strawberry related products like strawberry wines, meatballs and ice cream. For readers who have experienced those in Cameron Highlands, the strawberries here are grown differently, on the ground level, rather. So plucking the juicy fruits is a more back breaking affair. But it’s still wonderfully sweet and refreshing.
Munching on freshly picked strawberries is a happy experience and a wonderful way to start the trip.
That’s how farmers harvest their strawberries! By seating on little wheeled carts, moving backwards by pushing with their legs as they go down the rolls of strawberries. The brown tracks are filled with rice husks and not mud.
Da Hu Central Market & Street Food
The Da Hu town central market is teeming with people and the locals fave mode of transport are scooters. In fact, the streets are full of them. So it’s best to be alert when walking on the streets. As a result, I could not take many pictures here as I spent most of the time taking care of my children and keeping clear of the scooters.
A roadside stall selling a variety of braised meats.
Taiwan style roti pratas… quite tasty and eaten as it is, but without curry and quite oily. Should introduce them to curry.
A stall selling vegetables that locals buy home to be cultivated to a bigger size before eating. Yes, that would be unthinkable to most of us here in land scarce Singapore.
The organically grown roasted sweet potatoes in Taiwan is different from the Japanese version. The flesh are more moist and just as sweet. It’s wonderful to hold a hot roasted sweet potato in your palm as you stroll along in chilly 15-16’C temperatures.
What’s Taiwan street cuisine without the ubiquitous Chou DouFu (Stinky Beancurd)? The smell when it’s being deep fried might smell somewhat odd, but it’s really delicious. You can find the different types of versions of the dish at Ching-An Tofu Street, where all types of tofu can be found.
Would you like some Chou Tofu ? It’s yummy !
Sheng Xing Old Railway
Taiwanese entrepreneurship can be seen in the many street side food vendors. Like this lady spotted along the street at Sheng Xing Old Railway, a disused railway station. Just a bicycle, deep pot of oil and stinky tofu. But there are so many vendors selling similar item, it’s a challenging environment.
The Sheng Xing Old Railway- a quaint disused railway. With loads of eateries along the street and curios shops, souvenir hunters will love this venue.
The cat-themed curio shop will find appeal to many a cat lovers.
At the Sheng Xing Railway tracks. A laid back venue that spells tranquility and nostalgia of a bygone era.
Our 1st lunch in Taiwan -sinfully delicious stewed belly pork that melts in your mouth. Absolutely delicious!
The Gao Mei Wetland
With Ah Hui, our driver/guide at the Taichung Windmill power-generating plants. It is Taiwan’s answer to clean energy for the people. An impressive sight to behold, with all those gigantic blades spinning away the wind from the coastal area of Qingshui, Taichung City.
Boardwalk at the 300 hectares Gao Mei Wetland, which have special soils mixed with mud and sand. Ecology here breeds diversified organisms of both plants and animals. Research shows that animals here include birds, fishes, crabs and invertebrates.
The wetland surface does not soil or stick to our feet and has a “cushion” firm feel . You can walk kilometers out to sea during low tides. Just roll up your pants.
Feng Jia Night Market
No visit to Taichung is complete without going to Feng Jia Night Market. It’s said the food street is like an incubation centre for F&B entrepreneurs. Stalls that do best usually moves on to become a full fledged restaurants.
To be continued in – Taiwan Travelogue Part 2
The next part of my Taiwan travelogue chronicles itineraries that precedes my ascent to the mountains of He Hehuan Shan, in the Taroko National Park. A BIG Thank You for hopping along the journey so far.