Saturday, 23 February 2019

Taiwan - Return to Taipei

20th January Being Outdoor, Fulong Beach – Hotel G7, Taipei  76kms

Big day! Left Being Outdoor after coffee, waffles and a big chat with the owner.  Got away into the lovely foothills – gently rolling – and very pleasant progress through lovely green low hills. Ended abruptly after about 15kms when the climb began in earnest to Pinglin – very steep and strenuous. We stopped near the top and afterwards biked around the corner and were delighted to find a tunnel! Still uphill but descended straight afterwards which raised morale considerably. Over Pinglin we saw a few paper lanterns flying but it had begun raining steadily and quite cold so we pressed on.Another rise and then again – a great surprise to find another tunnel – great! And yes – a descent afterwards. Superb. Big descent and very steep in deteriorating weather to the town of Keelung where the rain caught up with us again. Sheltered thankfully and hungrily in the 7-11 where the hotdogs were very welcome after the energy we’d spent. Met some young guys outside who we chatted with.

Carried on the Cycleway No. 1 but lost it somewhere near Xizhi and ended up on Highway 5 up a hill in rain and descended again and later sheltered in a bakery when we found the bikeway. Got on the bikeway again and it had lots of barriers and road crossings. Crossed the Keelung River again and got on the other bikeway only to have it end abruptly and have to backtrack andget back across the road. Abandonned that and got back on the road again. Made quick but trafficky progress and at one intersection a car didn’t give way and it nearly hit us. Very big shot of adrenaline and felt a bit shaky after that. Found the actual Keelung River cycleway proper after that and that was great. Amazing views of city.

Detoured to Decathlon as we passed it – not very far – but it was crazy so got in and out fast. Had trouble rejoining the cycleway again and all a bit frazzled by the traffic and routefinding and weather so took a bit to get back on track. All very time-consuming. Made great progressand navigation around the Keelung River cycleway and on twilight at 5pm when exited the cycleway and crossed the Chongyang Bridge – crazy traffic but very relieved to find a cycle lane up onto it. Great to cycle into Luzhou down Jixian Rd right to the hotel, arriving about 5.30pm exhausted!

Relaxed, had beer, chips and lemonade and watched tv before going out for fried dumplings. All very tired and relieved to be here.

Taiwan - Fulong Beach

18th January     
Taroko Inn-Xincheng Taroko Station 3kms  Su’ao Station – Pokara Resort, Yilan 29kms

We were given bacon and eggs for breakfast at the Taroko Inn – it was much quieter than the previous day and I think the lady was trying to look after us. Left the inn at 9.30am and went to the Xincheng Taroko Train Station. Sat at the train station about an hour – very relaxed and looking forward to the trip!

All looking good until 10 minutes before the train when the other officials appeared and said that the bikes were too long to go on the train. Usual stress – but we hadn’t expected it. Waited around and getting closer and closer to the departure time and finally another plain clothes man and the original young girl told us to go through. Very grateful to them.

Harder than expected on the train with no luggage area and lots of people! Talked to an Australian and another cyclist who pointed out an older woman in the carriage who had been a competitive cyclist and was very famous. Got to Su’ao  about an hour and a quarter later and off train! Yay!
Spoke with a woman at the station and then departed, soon finding a cycleway off the road which lead us straight to an intersection and a 85 degree coffee shop with a 7-11 across the road. Ideal! Had special cake since hadn’t had birthday cake for Lucy and totally relaxed and de-stressed. Good feeling to have the train out of the way.

Back on the cycleway and then found another one – the Dongshan River Trail – which lead us straight to the coast. Easy biking, easy to find, gorgeous weather, great bridges and river. Then emerged onto Highway 2 near the coast and powered along on flat terrain to Pokara Resort – which was a detour through rice paddies – very unique and gorgeous.

Found the resort – very lovely with a restful afternoon tea and gorgeous room. Later googled the nearest restaurant and biked in the dark to it about 3kms. Got there to find live giant crabs, turtle and fish in the tank and then just lobster, shrimps, prawns, cockles and big fish, what looked like sea slugs in the display tray. Ordered off a picture-less menu in Chinese and on the nod of the lady in charge and got hotpot . Challenging but great – cockles, octopus, all sorts. Beer as well which we swilled down with it. Great. Very memorable.

Biked back in the dark along the narrow paddy field roads to the resort. Watched ‘Adrift’ which was great and very relaxing in our room. Wonderful day (apart from the initial train bit!).

19th January 
Pokara Resort, Yilan – Being Outdoors, Fulong Beach – Caoling Tunnel – Fulong Beach 57kms

Got away after a lovely breakfast at the resort. Perfect gorgeous weather and soon came to the first fishing port – Gengfang Harbour - with squid and shrimp boats with great lamps and booms- very beautiful and blue blue clear skies and sunshine. Great coastal cycleways and biked on and off them along Highway 2 most of the day. Exhorbitant $12 coffees so carried on to the 7-11 where we reunited with our Taiwanese cyclist from the train. Had a chat and crossed paths up the coast for a while.

Went right around the coast to Fulong Beach – spectacular views of Turtle Island all day.  A few detours of the cycleway down and up out of fishing villages. Quite steep and crazy in parts! Got in, found ‘Being Outdoors’ and had a snack at the 7-11 before biking out to the Historic Old Caoling Tunnel – amazing – more than 2kms in length and bikes only. Emerged back on the coast where we had been earlier –packed with people and some quality jazz busking. Beautiful views of the island again.

Biked back through the tunnel and into town. Had vegan pizza for dinner by mistake but not a great choice after walking down the beach and then to a burger place which turned off its lights just as we arrived! Only one day to go …. Exciting but also sad to end.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Taiwan - Taroko Gorge

16th January   East Coast Hotel, Hualien – Taroko Inn, Xingcheng   24kms

Very easy day but just as well as woke up to a huge wind and it intensified at Qixingtan Beach where we could barely stand up. Grey and rather cold and blustery day. Grateful to be having a short day. Met some Canadians at breakfast and had a good chat with them before packing up and leaving our bikes and our stuff there while we went to the A Zone Arts precinct and did a bit of shopping for Lucy’s birthday. Back to our hotel and left about 1pm after some bread and croissants for lunch.

Biked up and out to Qixingtan Beach – phenomenally windy there and took our breath away.  Also huge fighter jets leaving from an air force base en route to Qixingtan so totally a bit shell-shocked by the time we stopped at the beach. Expected terrible wind after that but the cycleway ended and the road went into quite sheltered forest which was very welcome. 

Made quick progress to Taroko/ Xingsheng  and circumnavigated the township before going to our hotel – which was a bit tricky to find. Sort of brand new in the middle of nowhere. Great to get there and have a nice welcome coffee. Had to go back into town for 7-11 dinner later as nothing much else open there.

17th January – Taroko Gorge – Lucy’s birthday  46kms

Celebrated Lucy’s birthday. Had breakfast and she opened her daschund chopstick kit and Hugh’s selfie stick and $1000 from us – NTD! Left the hotel just after 9am. Got some supplies for lunch and began the climb up to the gorge in earnest. Easy going at first and then into dramatic and gob-smacking scenery.

Went through the Tunnel of Nine Turns, Swallow Grotto, endless bridges and tunnels, the township of Tianshiang, the Baiyang Trail, the Water Curtain Cave – all truly amazing. We had lunch a bit before the main township sitting by a rest stop. Walked right up the Pagoda at Tianshang and had a coffee outside the 7-11. Met a guy outside also biking and he helpfully recommended continuing on to the Baiyang Trail – which we did even though it was getting later.

The Baiyang Trail was 2kms each way, starting in a dark tunnel. Motored along the track walking fast and were soon at the swing bridge. Lucy and I braved the Water Curtain Cave – drenched but happy! It was cool. Had a wonderful, fast walk back but did stop to see some monkeys in the bush just to the side of the track. Hugh was very upset to see some tourists feeding the monkeys.

Back on the bikes and began a stupendous and fast descent for 23kms. It was amazing. Not much traffic and really spectacular ride. Detoured at the end to the Eternal Spring Shrine – all very cool. Hope to go back one day. Hit town again just on dark. A bit disappointing not to have a restaurant to go to on Lucy’s birthday but great to get back to the hotel after such a great day.  Had a beer and some chips to celebrate.

Biked back into the 7-11 in the dark and ate microwaved pasta and icecreams. A bit of trepidation about the train ride the next day but totally satisfied with the wonderful day we had.

Taiwan - East Rift Valley

12th January    Mido Hotel, Taitung – Tsuen Feng, Guanshan   50kms

Departed after breakfast and went out to the Forest Park and Flowing Lake before heading into the East Rift valley. Stopped at a 7-11 after the first 10kms or so. Had an amazing ride up through the first part of the valley – the sun came out but we were in a Green Tunnel – leafy corridor of shade for about 4 or 5kms. Climbed steadily and meltdown in the heat and humidity – super hot and sweaty ride. 

Carried on up and over the hill to the Luye Highlands and on to Luye Village. Just as we were descending from the climb up to the Highlands, a young guy came out of the Luminous Spa and resort and said that his family would like to invite us in for a rest and a drink! We were overwhelmed and humbled by this kind gesture. Sat in a wonderful recreation room and had lovely apple and rosella (local) juice. It was truly a great rest and lovely lovely place. Then we said our farewells and had lots of photos outside with the guy. It was lovely and a true random act of kindness and connection.

Carried on our way and had a rest when we got into Luye township further on and had lunch there – 7-11 hotdogs! Then on to Guanshan Township and through it to our homestay in the wee village 3kms out. Met the lady who was lovely and settled in. Also met Ah-Noah the dog who was very cute. Had beer and chips which were great and then biked down a great cycleway in the near-dark with the sound of frogs all around and had dinner at a great restaurant where Hugh had pizza and I had pasta and donburri. Biked back in the dark and listened to some music on the computer and relaxed.

13th January   Tsuen Feng, Guanshan – KET Hotel, Yuli   40kms

Left our accommodation after breakfast which was organic homemade peas, spicy pork, cabbage, rice and coffee. The lady placed John at the head of the table and served us which was nice but a not what we are used to. Said goodbye to Ah-Noah the puppy and headed off on the Guanshan cycleway – only to bike around in a loop back to the township so had to backtrack and exit. Overcast but still quite hot.

Made it up to Chishang – quite steady climb – and found Mr Brown Avenue! Crazy place. Tourist explosion there but wonderful  vistas and colours with the padi fields. Big ride around with lots of photo stops. Very amazing. Very famous Taiwanese landmark.

 Later had lunch at the 7-11 in Chisang township and then quite a lot of climbing after that – steady. Soon we found a cycleway that we jumped onto 10kms out of Yuli and it was absolutely fabulous. Crossed a huge bridge at the end and halfway across there was a monument showing that we were on the faultline separating the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate! Amazing. Arrived to the KET Hotel right on 4pm and it was great and we relaxed. Even had our first glass of wine from the Px Mart! Went to a small boutique restaurant for dinner and ended up having black bun burgers, pink mushroom soup, fruit entrée and blueberry tea. Not quite what we were expecting but had a good time and looked around Yuli on our return to the hotel. Small village really.

14th January   KET Hotel, Yuli  - Sapientia Guesthouse, Guangfu  56kms

The markets were busy as we left Yuli with lots of fresh chickens and fish and vegetables on the street. Climbed steadily upon leaving Yuli but a huge climb to 246m took us to the top of a hill where we stopped at a tea house and had tea tasting at what they reported was the number one tea house in Taiwan. Lucy and Hugh dutifully tasted the tea, with the lady refilling their cup-bowls as quickly as they could drink it. We loved it and even bought a big box of tea there. So cool to see the tea growing right there on top of the hill. Coffee as well.

Great descent down the hill to the Tropic of Cancer monument and kept descending right down to near Ruisui where we had a welcome lunch stop at the 7-11. Went all the way into Guangfu – all downhill and a great ride – where we visited the Hualien Sugar Company grounds with hundreds of other tourists. Icecreams galore and had one overlooking the goldfish and turtle ponds. Great day’s cycling and in fact the whole East Rift Valley was a treat.

Headed to Sapientia Guesthouse about 4.30pm and it was so beautiful and the lady was lovely and later her husband made us a delicious coffee in the reception area which was very cool. It was a beautiful, peaceful place and I loved it there. The kids bonded with Momo the dog and its friend.
Stressful dark ride into town for tea with quite ferocious barking dogs (most chained) and lots of loud frogs and some bats flying by the solitary streetlight before we reached the main road. I was uncomfortable about coming back home! Had dinner at the 7-11 – tiring of that a little – and then back home through the frogs, bats and barking ferocious dogs. Slept soundly.

15th January    Sapientia Guesthouse, Guangfu – East Coast Hotel, Hualien 50kms

Absolutely beautiful day and glorious sitting on the deck and having our beautifully prepared and presented breakfast overlooking the lily ponds. Tomato salad, fruit, pumpkin soup, chicken tortillas and tea. Amazing. Such a lovely place. Said our goodbyes and took photos.  A bit sad to be leaving the Rift valley and embarking on the next and last stage of the trip.

Stopped in Fenglin at the 7-11 for coffee and then biked through up the valley and then, finally, down. There were a few big valleys to climb up and round first. Big descent to Hualien. Stopped at Pine Tree Lake café in Jian township and had cake and coffee which was lovely and then negotiated the busy traffic and streets of Hualien – crazy and a bit stressful after many days without big cities.

Found the East coast Hotel which was good and went for a big walk to but railway tickets for our trip from Taroko to Su’au – all sources advising not to bike the section from Hualien to Yilan. Hualien Railway Station is a gob-smacking building in the shape of coconut palms – absolutely stunning and we got our tickets with little fuss. Returned to the hotel and relaxed before going out for tea across the road. It turned out to be – once again – hotpot! Fun but not always easy to know what you are eating. Enjoyed it anyway.

Taiwan - West to East

9th January    Leesing Hotel, Kaoshuing   - Ocean Apartments, Checheng/ Hengshun  104kms

Long day! Absolutely beautiful going out of Kaoshuing. Some cycleway and some busy bits. Very cool city. Stopped at a very cool bridge. Wound through a little cycleway through a neighbourhood – lots of old people out talking and playing board/table games – very interesting and cool. Flat once we were out of town. Stopped at a 7/11 every 20kms. Grateful to get out of the 30 degree heat and into air conditioning with food and drinks. Hot and exhausting. Better and more beautiful once we reached the coast and had a break at a Family mart with beachfront tables – total Pacific Island. Very windy after that and exhausted and a strong – very strong – wind blowing which was a little unpredictable and frightening. Pretty gale force. Arrived in Checheng and still had to get out to Hengshan and find where we were staying and limited daylight left and the huge wind still blowing – mostly behind us but not all the time. Also worried about getting food. 

So biked the 6kms out to the accommodation. Found it down a wee gravel road. Go there, the room was open so we went in, caught our breath and then Lucy and I biked along the village to look for food but there were only some scary growly dogs that chased us so biked back round the other way on the road in to get back to the villa. Took stock, had showers and then biked in the dark 3kms in a head wind into the 7/11 and had dinner there – microwaved pasta. It was the last straw when John’s turned out to be cold noodles but he didn’t mind that. Great to have the wind behind us going back and to get back and settled and actually the place was lovely. Big days and the thought of the hill hanging over us…

10th January   Ocean Apartments, Checheng/ Hengshun  - San He Inn, Jinlun  86kms

Another huge day but awesome! Wow! Had breakfast at the Ocean Apartment at 8am – really lovely salad with bacon, egg, corn, tomatoes and cucumber club sandwiches followed by apple which Hugh devoured and orange as well. Lovely coffee. Sad to leave in the end. Gorgeous day and now a breeze rather than wind. Great relief. So we biked back into Checheng and then embarked on the 42km climb to Shouka! Some wind but that was good actually. More concerned about the army presence in town and the bombs going off to the south of us! Also many fighter planes. Apparently there is a lot of unrest between China and Taiwan just now!

So we began the climb in earnest – very hot up to Mudan. Stopped for a rest at 17kms at Mudan in a cool park. Very colourful and cool traditional town. Climbed a very steep and massive hill after that. Then wound up and up and a little bit of down and up again through cool jungle and saw a few monkeys which were great and heard some big-sounding frogs and it was quiet and gorgeous and lush and beautiful. Steady climbing, particularly in the last 9kms. Luckily it had clouded over after Mudan and actually fabulous riding conditions. The top was no highlight – almost went past the top station where there were just two cats and a dog. Still great to make it there. 

Massive descent for about 10kms – quite technically difficult with big buses, uneven cambres on the road and just a lot of steep braking. Got down to a 7/11 and collapsed into it and had hotdogs and iced coffee and just totally happy to make the East Coast. Ecstatic. Descended a little further before hitting the flat coast and heading through Dawu – just a few painted houses there. 

Big ride up the coast between about 3.30 and 6pm – raced along but hit a big hill of totally crazy and impressive roadworks – the biggest infrastructural project I have ever seen – building a high speed rail track as well as widening and rebuilding the road. It was truly massive. Had to stop at lights and sandwich ourselves between trucks and buses. Got onto another hill and bridge and halfway over the bridge decided maybe we were staying in the town earlier than Tamali – and indeed we were so descended into the wee town which didn’t look promising at all. It was just on sunset. 

Did find the hotel/inn. The lady tried to upsell us the room but that was fine – managed to resist that. Had a beer and chips which was great and then later went out for tea but could only get food at the 7/11 so it was microwaved pasta again! Not cold this time. It was all good and slept well after a mammoth effort. Later Lucy and I went to the hot pools for a very relaxing – and entertaining 30 minutes. It had all sorts of jets and fountains and a surprise waterfall! The man was funny and wanted to photograph us for the website!!

11th January   San He Inn, Jinlun – Mido Hotel, Taitung   42kms

Sandwiches for breakfast at 8am and the usual 3-1 coffee. Hot day – super-charged humidity! Departed 9.30am. The lady made us pay $20 for the hot pools but that was all good. They were nice people. They also did laundry for us –offered- which was very kind. Very sweaty ride here – some hills between and dramatic coastal drop-offs and scenery. Long Ride into town and stopped at 7/11 for lunch. Found the hotel about 2pm and dropped off our bags and headed to three bike shops – the last one having the tyre we needed as our one at the back was very worn. Were lucky to find one. Then went to the Music Quarter/ Railway park which was very cool and sat and had beer and icecream in the park and looked around. Very lovely. Great to be relaxed after some full-on days. Back here to the hotel about 4.30pm and relaxed and showered and then went to a nice dumpling restaurant for dinner.

Taiwan Chiayi - Kaoshuing

5th January   Fisherman’s Homestay, Ita Thao  - Jia Xin Hotel, Chiayi  106kms

Gorgeous cycling to begin. Left the accommodation and had breakfast at the 7-11 at 7am. Biked up out of Ita Thao through gorgeous sunny jungle. Just amazingly quiet and peacefulwith the sun’s rays shining through.  Climbed up a big hill to Master Xuan Zang Memorial Hall/ Temple. Gorgeous and very peaceful so early in the morning. Then a great descent – through damp jungle with the sun shining hotter all the time. Some amazing tunnels with Ita Thao mosaic tiles through them. Huge descent below the level of the dam and then an ascent back up to Yuchi Village and back round where we first met the lake road. What a fabulous trip and truly beautiful place.

Descended through the tunnel and then steeply to Shuili and on to Jiji where we reunited with 85 degrees for some coffee and croissants. Long trip down to Chiayi – flat –but a long long way and a little uphill in one of the first towns. Good to get there just on dusk at 5.30pm and find it fairly easily. Relaxed at the Jia Xin Hotel and later went out for food – had yummy laska at an authentic fast food type place. A bit stunned when Hugh ordered the starter of pigs’ ears but predictably it wasn’t a great hit!

6th January   Rest day Alishan Railway – Chiayi   Lots of walking at Fenqihu

We were up for breakfast at 85 degrees at 7am and queuing for Alishan Railway tickets at 8am. Got them easily and were soon on the 8.30am to Fenqihu Station. The journey took 2 hours 20 mins and became increasingly dramatic and through jungle and forest with gorgeous skylines – really fun journey and lots of fun people as well. When we got to the town we walked down the Old Street and Lucy had a Bento box for lunch and we had garlic bread and Chinese doughnuts. Then went for a walk for an hour or more through the forest around the village. Absolutely gorgeous. Wooden walkways, monkeys in the bamboo wild, stunning views and just very very peaceful and lovely. 

Caught the train down again at 3pm which was even more gorgeous with the golden hour between 4 and 5pm as we came down with the sun setting over the mountain ridges. Amazing and such a shame that the line is closed to Alishan since a typhoon. It would be great to revisit if it was rebuilt.
Back to the hotel and out for dinner later. Walked to the Wenhua Night Market and had street food there – yummy deep fried scallion pancakes with an egg tossed in – absolutely amazing. The kids had crepes as well. Lots of the food is so lovingly and carefully prepared, nothing is wasted and everything is recycled. Remakable country.

7th January        Jia Xin Hotel, Chiayi – Maple Hotel, Tainan  75kms

Left Chiayi and the Jia Xin Hotel early after breakfast at McDonalds!! – after there wasn’t a table at the 85 degrees. It was a bit of fun – probably the first time we all have been there ever. When we left the hotel the lady hugged me which was unexpected but lovely. Pretty big flat ride from Chiayi to Tainan. Stopped at Carrefour and Decathlon on the way out of town but Decathlon not open and Hugh got lost in Carrefour shooting baskets! We stopped again at the Tropic of Cancer Park which was impressive but a little run down.  Arrived at the maple Hotel late afternoon and it was lovely! Went for Vietnamese dinner later. Really low-key and cheap. Lovely.

8th January   Maple Hotel, Tainan – Leesing Hotel, Kaoshuing   52kms

Lovely breakfast at the maple Hotel, packed up and left. What a day! Great first hour down the coast south of Tainan and cycle path right by the sea. Cloud keeping things cool. Saw a shipwrecked boat – cool. Then came to a fork in the road and argued a bit over which way to go. In the end John and Hugh went back the way I wanted to go and Lucy and I went the way they wanted to go. Nightmare! Ended up getting completely separated. Lucy and I went to the 7/11 the way we went and then after a few desperate texts John and Hugh arrived 45 minutes later! All tired and a complete cock-up. 

Carried on flattish terrain to Kaoshuing. Very busy and we all tired but easy to get into town. Arrived 5pm-ish. After aterrible day we ended up having the best evening. Walked down to love River in the dark about 7pm. Absolutely gorgeous. Had a beer by where a jazz busker was playing – so good. Lovely temperature after a very hot day. Wandered further down and Lucy wanted to go on a gondola so we did!! $40 for all of us and the guy sang on the boat which was a total highlight. Amazing. Then we found a cool bar and had burgers and chips and beer which was great! We all relaxed and had a great time. Then looked at a retro Vespa shop and wandered home. It was such a nice evening and such a cool city.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Taiwan - Sun Moon Lake

Photos coming...

2nd January
Twinstar Hotel, Taichung – Qin Hai Hotel, Jiji  46kms

Had a superb breakfast at the Twinstar Hotel and great service to send us on our way. Another great ride through Taichung. Steadily rising towards Jiji through the very factory towns of Caotun and Nantou but cut it out pretty quickly. Stopped at a 7/11 on the way at Mingjian for lunch. Coffee at 85 degrees on arrival in Jiji and then rocked up to the hotel right on 3pm. It was great too.  Relaxed for quite a while and then later went to a very authentic Vietnamese restaurant for dinner which was fabulous.

3rd January 
Qin Hai Hotel, Jiji  - Fisherman’s Homestay, Ita Thao 38kms

Not a long way but a big big big hill! And gorgeous once we got towards the lake. A few more hills on arrival at the dam and through a big tunnel. On the other side we were delighted to arrive at the Xiangshan Visitor Centre – just a truly incredible building – with a pond along it looking out to the lake. Truly inspirational architecture. Met a guide there who had lived on the North Shore in Auckland for 17 years – nice man. Very helpful. Then a beautiful cycleway and not far around the lake until we came to Shuishe Dam and then Shuishe Pier where we found a cool little café called the Moon Café and had a beer and coffee and the kids had waffles. Great. Carried on up to Wenwu Temple – quite a huge hill – had to branch off the cycleway as there was a closed sign saying Killer Hornet Nest!! We weren’t going there. The temple was gorgeous and late afternoon ‘golden hour’ weather. Just truly peaceful and gorgeous over all three levels of the temple. Such a focal point of the lake. Spent over an hour there.

Carried on around the road through gorgeous bush and lovely late afternoon to Ita Thao. Real jungle with huge Black Widow spiders weaving three dimensional webs above our heads. Arrived just on sunset at 5.30pm. Found our accommodation and after a lot of Google Translate from the owner we were shown our room. All good. Fairly basic. Went out and wandered the streets before going just next door for a meal which was great. I had traditional Ita Thao deer and we had seafood fried rice (by accident really) and this yummy beef stirfry. Nice to be able to have a beer with dinner – a rareity here.

Walked down to the waterfront then and looked at the beautiful lights on the water and the boats. Special place. Satisfying and grateful to have made it up there.

4th January Rest day at Ita Thao

Such a great place to have a rest day – though started it badly with iced black coffee! Bit of a mistake with the order! Beautiful day! Gorgeous. Hot.

Had the Chinese breakfast at the homestay and John had to be Google Translate for the lady which was all a wee bit awkward as a lady was trying to cancel on the phone.  She was very nice though and sold us cheap tickets for the boat as her tenant owns it.

Walked to the gondola along the awesome path with the huge Black Widows. The gondola/ ropeway was amazing and went right over to the Formosan Village. The jungle below us was amazing and lovely views of the lake.

Walked back to the township and caught the boat over to Shuishe Pier – lovely on the boat. Went back to the Moon Café and had some pizza for lunch. Back onto the boat and it took us over to another part of the lake and to the Xuanguang Temple. There were some Ita Thao buskers there and the temple itself was very peaceful and lovely and shady which was nice. Did some pretend busking of our own in a quiet spot when we managed to watch the boat leave without us as we thought it was a different boat. Stayed an extra half hour as a result.

Boated back to the township in Ita Thao and the kids went on an electronic pedal boat while we had a coffee – not iced this time. At 5pm we went to an Ita Thao Cutural Performance which lasted about an hour and was truly impressive and interesting – even if we were unable to understand the commentary. Difficult to describe in words but really energetic and fabulous live performance.
Had street food for dinner – scallion pies – spring onion pancakes with meat in them. It was yummy. Bought some owl souvenirs. Walked home and went to bed. Great day.