Our last stop in Taiwan was Taichung – the 3rd largest city in Taiwan. To be honest, judging from what wikitravel and tripadvisor say about Taichung, I didn’t expect to see interesting things there. I thought I would be seeing fancy modern buildings and night markets but I was wrong. We had a very nice taxi driver who drove us for 3 days (from Cingjing to Sun Moon Lake, from Sun Moon Lake to Taichung and the day trip in Taichung) and he brought us to really interesting places in the outskirts of Taichung. As we reached Taichung in the evening from Sun Moon Lake, our first stop was the famous Fengjia Night Market located next to the Fengjia University. One thing that surprised me about Fengjia Night Market is that most of the stall vendors are young people. Possibly because of the young entrepreneurs, there is a wide variety of food in this particular night market, different from other night markets which mainly sell the same few items. I remember we had a great time sampling all the different food. 🙂 One thing that I really like about this night market is that it is quite spacious and that probably makes it a more conducive environment to eat without being pushed by people.
On the next day, our taxi driver Mr Zhang first brought us to Xinshe to view the “Sea of Flowers” (花海). It was quite a pity because the festival ended on the day before our visit so some of the flowers had already been removed by the farmers. Nonetheless, it was still quite nice to see so many flowers with different colours. 🙂
Next, we visited the Lavender Cottage (薰衣草森林). The place is fairly remote and on the one and only winding road to the cottage, they actually put purple signages to urge drivers to keep going and not to give up. I was quite glad that we didn’t give up because this place has become one of my favourite places in Taiwan. According to the information that they provided there, this place used to be a betel nut farm and two girls, who got sick of the city way of life, bought the farm and converted it into an urban respite. That is not yet the best part of the story. Apparently, the owners came up with a policy whereby other like-minded individuals can become the “bosses” of the cottage for a period of time. During that time, they could make whatever changes they deem fit for the place. I think this is quite a good idea and it makes the place so much more interesting. Contrary to what the name suggests, there are not too many lavenders in the cottage. Rather, there are many different flowers and plants. They even have a scent room to teach people how to recognise the scents of the common flowers and plants. I really like the environment there, it is calming and peaceful. We had our lunch while seeing the betel nut farms and listening to the chirping of the birds. It’s a really nice place for a family excursion. 🙂
Our next stop was the Alpaca Farm (天馬牧場). It was a little chilly there but it was sheer fun walking in the farm and feeding the alpacas. 🙂 Some alpacas were rather unfriendly (one almost spat at my mum!) but others were really nice to humans and allowed us to touch their fur and take lots of photos with them. It was a nice experience to be surrounded by so many alpacas. Beside alpacas, the farm also has other animals such as the buffalo, kangaroos, parrots.
Mr Zhang planned the route such that we would reach the Gaomei Wetlands in the evening just in time to see the sunset. Apparently, that is one of the best places in Taichung to view the sunset. Unfortunately, the weather was against us and it was extremely cloudy that evening. The sea breeze was also stronger than we thought and hence we were rather under-dressed and felt quite cold. I should have known that the wind turbines are where the wind is. Nonetheless, it was still quite a gorgeous sight to see the receding tide exposing the wetlands in its demise.
Finally, we went back to the city center. Taichung’s city center is quite similar to Singapore’s and Shanghai’s as it is quite pedestrian-friendly. Unlike Taipei’s, I feel that Taichung’s city landscape is much more modern with a wider spectrum of beautiful skyscrapers. Currently, there is an on-going project to construct a metro system in Taichung. This city will probably become more important to Taiwan’s economy in the years to come. They were having a bear exhibition so there were bear statues randomly placed around the city center (visually similar to the elephant parade in Singapore). Though I can’t remember the intention behind placing the bear statues in the Taichung city, I remember we had quite a bit of fun taking photos with the bears that we liked.