Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Taiwan Part 3: Day 5~6 - Kaoshiung + Taichung

Finally, the second last part of our trip to Taiwan. Last part (Taipei) will come soon! I had been busy with my part time job and most importantly there is no internet connection at my workers' residential area. Anyways, here are the links to Taiwan Part 1 and Taiwan Part 2.

~Day 5~

Before we departed for Taichung, we spent the day at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monestry. This was probably one of the best place we went because it was definitely unique and an identity of Taiwan. I have been to Buddhist and Hindu Temples in Thailand and Bali but this was something new!

at the entrance of the monestry

How to get there? From the Bus station in front of Kaoshiung Railway Station, there is a direct bus to Fo Guang Shan Monestry. The bus station is quite difficult to find so it would be better to ask around before getting lost. The bus cost 75TWD per person. If you arrive early or by noon, you can eat inside the Dining hall which serves reasonable vegetarian food. It closes around 1PM.

some high tech displays

There are many "events" you can take part in at the monestry. I have my own faith but I do think there is nothing wrong knowing others' faith, there is no such thing as being brain washed or forcing you to be a Buddhist. Traveling to another part of the monestry, you can ride the buggy. It is meant for elders and disabled but with a minimal fee you can ride along and save yourself some time.

giant Buddha, the view was awesome!

took the buggy/cart to a record setting temple which has hundreds of golden Buddha and one of the biggest

On the way to Fo Guang Shan Monestry, you will pass by EDA Theme Park, which is a greek syle theme park. If you have time after your visit to the monestry (which we didn't), you can stop by at the theme park and Dream mall.

After the day spent in Kaoshiung, we traveled from Kaoshiung to Taichung using train, cost 860TWD each. When we planned for Taichung, the main target was of course Sun Moon Lake 日月潭. There are many options but I chose to stay in Taichung have a day trip to Sun Moon Lake, which I regretted a little. From Sun Moon Lake there are direct buses to Taipei. So you can actually spend a night at Sun Moon Lake (nothing much to do at night but it will be a great experience away from the busy Taichung city) and take the direct bus the next day to Taipei. That would save your time traveling back to Taichung, then to Taipei again like we did.

Late lunch at the train station while waiting for our train

In Taichung, we stayed at Unicorn Hostel, which I reviewed here. The night we arrived from Kaoshiung, we used public bus from the airport as directed by the hostel's owner Toyo. Arrived quite late but we managed to relax a bit then off to Fengjia Night Market. The night market is approximately 30 minutes walk from the hostel. Toyo gave us a map to the night market but it was quite confusing so we took initiative to ask people around. Like all the other night markets, food was composed of mostly snacks, no rice which I was already craving for a lot.

this is just 1/3 of our night market food *guilty*

~Day 6~

Early the next day in Taichung, we departed to Sun Moon Lake 日月潭. Getting to Sun Moon Lake is easy! There is a direct bus to Sun Moon Lake from the Taichung Railway station. At the lower floor, there will be Nantou Bus ticketing counter specifically for tip to Sun Moon Lake, the bus cost 660TWD each for round trip shuttle bus. For the schedule, you can check it <here> in English or <here> in Chinese Taiwan main website. As seen on the website, there is also combo package called "Sun Moon Lake Pass", cost 330TWD each. This pass can be purchased at the counter when you arrive at Sun Moon Lake. In the pass, there are different vouchers which consists of Sun Mon Lake ropeway, Round the lake bus, shuttle boat to the island and Bicycle rental.

top: crossing the overhead bridge to get the bus on the other side!
bottom: Carton King, a cardboard made cafe display and they sell cardboard made displays
The "Sun Moon Lake" Pass which consists of a few vouchers, sufficient for you to enjoy a day trip there!

We used up all the vouchers except the Bicycle rental. This is because it was limited to Giant Bike Rental Spot only and when we surveyed the price, even with the discount voucher it was more expensive than the other rental shops. This is because all the bikes were geared mountain bikes and since it was normal path, we decided to rent the ordinary much cheaper bikes.

Took a ferry from Ita Tao pier to nearby island

All information written on the pass has Chinese and English with instructions and maps so there should not be any problem. Cycling around the lake in the evening was really an amazing experience! If you plan to go in the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village, it would be better to spend a night at Sun Moon Lake. We didn't enter the Formosa (cost 780TWD each) but from what we saw from the cable car, it was a big area to cover.

Real human model exhibit! He's actually quite funny, few kids freaked out xD

The famous Ah Ma Herbal Egg at Syuanguang Temple.
 We had to queue for these but I still love the ones in Malaysia more.
The ones in Taiwan (including those at 7-eleven) are drier and less herbal taste.

After the ferry rides, we went for the Sun Moon Lake ropeway, which is my favourite - cable car rides! From the gondola you can view the lake itself and the view was magnificent. In order to go to the Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village, you will also need to ride the cable car. It is located on top of the hill.

We put cycling the end of our schedule because the temples have closing hour and we wanted it to be less sunny when we cycle. Plus, we wanted to cycle in a more relaxed manner rather than to rush to another plan/schedule. So we cycled till we decided it is time to go back to Taichung.

me and my pink rented bicycle. we rented from a stall next to the bus station.
rental charged by day (unlike the one using voucher which charge by hour) so super worth it!

it was early Autumn when we were in Taiwan

while waiting for our bus back to Taichung, ate Taiwan sausage! Yummy~ Super miss this!

Back in Taichung, we went to Xin Guang San Yue 新光三越, which is a very common mall around Taiwan. There are probably a few in all the main cities like Taipei and Taichung. They have everything in the mall. You get to shop, eat and have some entertainments.

We ate these set meals, personal steamboat and it was really worth it!
Forgotten how much it cost but it was half the cost of our 1.5 hour movie.... =.=

We were bored after our dinner so we decided to watch a movie.
The others the timing were really bad so we watched this: Beyond Beauty, Taiwan from above.
We were in Taiwan anyways so why not watch a movie about Taiwan right....
Watching movies in Taiwan is so cut throat expensive T_____T
I think it was around RM30 for a normal non 3D.

Next post Part 4 will be wholly on Taipei. Stay tuned!

p/s: I read somewhere that the SML pass is only till 31 Dec 2013 for Visit Taiwan year, so it is better to check on the promotions before getting there.

For more info on my Taiwan itinerary please email meilinxo(at)gmail(dot)com

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