(continue from Taiwan 7D6N – Part I : Day 1 & 2 – Yilan County)
DAY 3 – FM YILAN TO MIAOLI COUNTY (NT5000)
After a hearty breakfast, we bid goodbye to Pine Villa and set off for our journey to Olive-Tree Minsu (南庄民宿橄欖樹) at Miaoli Country. Along the way, Mr Lee showed us other interesting places in Yilan.
(A) KING CAR WHISKY DISTILLERY, YILAN – Established in 1956, it is also the manufacturer of ready-to-drink coffee ‘Mr. Brown’ which is also popular in Europe. We took a tour of its distillery and visitors are encouraged to try their various coffee mixes and their coffee flavoured liquor.
(B) Wang Lung Lake (望龙埤), Yilan – On the way for lunch, Mr Lee stopped by this lake. Nothing in particular here, just a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and greeneries. In any way, online search yielded no info either. Noticed many locals strollling and having picnics there. Several nice cafes lined the road near its entrance.
(C) LUNCH AT LAO MA MA FERMENTED BEANCURD CHICKEN (老妈妈豆腐乳鸡) – A short drive down the road from Wang Lung Lake, we had our lunch at a homely restaurant named 老妈妈豆腐乳鸡. Popular with the locals, it serves chicken seasoned with homemade fermented bean curd and then roasted to perfection. Tender and delicious, it is recommended to tear the meat and eat it wrapped in a crispy lettuce leaf. Served with a steaming pot of wild mushroom soup and a refreshing salad, it makes a wonderful & satisfying meal. Highly recommended !
After our sumptuous lunch, Mr Lee took us to a confectionary factory but we weren’t interested so we continued on our journey to Jiaoxi Township which is famous for its natural hot springs, the most famous one here being Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park (礁溪溫泉公園). Due to time constraint, however, we had to forego the luxury of this natural hot spa in order to reach Miaoli before nightfall. The disappointment was quickly replaced with glee as Mr Lee introduced us to Chilli Museum (Làjiāo Wénhuàguǎn – 辣椒文化館), an ice-cream palour offering spicy ice-cream in different degrees of spiciness. Believe me, this isn’t quite your cup of icre-cream!
The locals here are fortunate to have a natural hot spring stream running through their estate. Here they could enjoy foot soak at any time of the day. How blessed !
It was almost 6pm when we finally reached Nanzhuang, a rural township in Miaoli County inhabited mostly by Hakka people. As it was drizzling and we were eager to check into our minsu, we decided to check out Nanzhuang’s famous old street (老街) the next morning instead and settled for a simple meal in one of the many small Hakka restaurants there.
From the old street, it took another half an hour to reach our accommodation at Olive-Tree Minsu (南庄民宿橄欖樹). As Mr Lee drove into its driveway, lo and behold, we unanimously “WAaaaa……” at the forested sight before us that seemed like a 3D popped-out from a fairy-tale book. We literary jumped out of the car and forgot our luggages…haha.. I’m not sure about guys but young gals (or rather, as long as you’re young at heart) would certainly love this resort! And if you’re looking for a place away from the maddening crowd, this is it!
DAY 4 – FM MIAOLI TO TAIPEI (NT5000)
Breakfast was included in our reservation and consisted of a thick toast with several choices of spread – chocolate, peanut butter, jam or garlic with a onsen egg, a slice of sweet potatoes, salad, and a hot beverage (sufficient carbo to keep us going for half a day). After that, we checked-out to explore Miaoli before proceeding to Taipei.
(A) DONGHE SUSPENSION BRIDGE, MIAOLI (东河吊挢) – Our first stop was here. Built in 1930, the old Donghe Bridge was originally a suspension bridge to link Taiyuan Basin and the Donghe Tribe to the only road that goes to Singong. However, it was damaged by typhoon and rebuilt in 1953.
(B) XIANGTIAN LAKE @ NANZHUANG TOWNSHIP, MIAOLI (向天湖）- At 738m above sea level, Xiangtian Lake is surrounded by mountains and green forests. Dense vapor on the lake makes the place mysterious but calming as well. As we strolled along, colourful butterflies and dragonflies flutter along the way and above the waters. Fresh air here makes it a peaceful & serene park for a stroll any time.
(C) OLD STREET @ NANZHUANG, MIAOLI (老街) – A very popular tourist attraction in Miaoli. Walking around this old rural street with red brick walls, old shop houses and flagstone alleys is like taking a step back in time. Traditional food, crafts and wares such as potteries, wooden wares, trinkets, etc are sold here.. Still in existence is a restored old post office built during the Japanese Occupation. Very interesting.
(D) LONGTENG BRIDGE (龍騰斷橋) @ SANYI TOWNSHIP, MIAOLI – Today, the remnants of Longteng Bridge, an arched railway bridge, serves as a reminder of Sanyi’s past heyday as a vibrant coal mining town. Built in 1905, it was destroyed by a major earthquake in 1935.
(E) SHENGXING RAILWAY STATION @ SANYI TOWNSHIP, MIAOLI ( 勝興車站 ) – The train station, completed in 1906, is built entirely of wood in the Japanese huya (literary ‘teeth of a tiger’) style, which is supposed to ward off evil spirits. Many artifacts from the Japanese occupation period can still be seen here, such as the old train signals. The last trained service stopped on September 23, 1998.
If in Miaoli, the other not to be missed visit is Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum. Mr Lee drove past the wood carving street and suggested that we explore it. However, walking in the lousy hot and wet weather since morning had taken a toll on us so we told him to proceed straight to our hotel in Ximenting, Taipei. (More info on this at http://go2taiwan.net/wood_carving.php)
(…read more of our trip at Taiwan 7D6N – Part III : Day 5-7 Taipei)