[Taiwan Series] Day 4 in Taichung: Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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The next morning, I woke up not feeling well. This sort of ruined our plans as we spent the morning looking for medicine and trying to rest up. There are many attractions that are nearby Taichung but require you to drive or bus for a significant time to get to. One of these included Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and this was actually the sight we decided to go to that day. As it takes around 2 hours by bus, we had planned to leave in the morning to make the most of our time. But since I wasn’t feeling well, we ended up leaving around noon.

If you have a group of 4, I suggest looking into hiring a private driver for the day. They can drive you to multiple attractions and honestly doesn’t cost too much. However, as were only a group of 2, the best option to get to Sun Moon Lake was to take a bus. If you get to Gancheng Bus Station, you can take the Nantou Bus to Sun Moon Lake. The first bus runs at 7:45am with the last bus at 7:45pm. Be warned that the last bus back to Taichung from Sun Moon Lake departs at 7:25pm so plan wisely. The bus costs $360 NTD roundtrip and takes just under 2 hours. Look for the above shop and purchase the ticket from the staff. They can be a bit pushy to sell you some VIP type of bus, but just be persistent. They also sell some packages which includes boat tours and bike rentals, but because we arrived so late, we weren’t even sure how much time we would have. We ended up just buying the bus tickets to be safe.

 

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The bus ended up being quite comfy. It’s essentially a charter tour bus so you can even bring luggage on if you decide to stay at the lake.

 

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Finally, we arrived at Sun Moon Lake! The bus will drop you off at the Shuishe Visitor Center so you will need to make your way towards Shuishe Pier. We ended up grabbing a quick lunch at MOS Burger which is located upstairs in the visitor center.

 

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The best way to explore Sun Moon Lake is probably to take one of these boats. If you purchased a package at the bus stop, you’ll likely have vouchers ready and can head straight to the boats. Since we were undecided earlier, we ended up just buying the boat tickets at the visitor center. The boat will take you to the three major piers – Shuishe, Xuanguang, and Ita Thao. A roundtrip costs around $300 NTD and I recommend taking the boat as you can hop on and hop off. I suggest getting the ferry timetable though as boats only come at select times despite a pier to pier ride only taking 10 minutes. If you miss getting on at a pier, you may wait up to 30 minutes before the next boat comes. I think another great way to explore the city is to rent a bike which is available at the visitor centre. I had originally wanted to do this, but due to the heat and also how late we arrived, we decided the boat option was more suitable. However, they have a very nice biking trail here, so perfect if you want a bit of exercise!

 

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Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest lake and is essentially in the centre of Taiwan. It is in the Nantou area where there’s lots of mountains. I believe the name comes from the shape of the lake. The east side of the lake is round like a sun while the west side of the lake is long like a crescent moon.

 

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To be honest though, S and I personally were a bit underwhelmed. I had saw pictures online of the lake but after seeing it in real life, I felt that the pictures were edited or filtered. The lake was not as blue as I imagined. Especially coming from Canada, we felt this was nothing close to the lakes we have back home. However, I think it is worth coming if you have some time as it’s a nice getaway from the busy city. I agree that it was still beautiful, but it just didn’t live up to our expectations we had in our mind from the pictures online.

 

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The first pier that you will arrive at is Xuanguang Pier. There isn’t much to do at this pier but the Xuanguang Temple but since we weren’t too interested at looking at temples, we decided to stay on the boat and skip this pier. Instead, we went to the last pier which is called Ita Thao Pier. There is a lot more to do at this pier as this was where the old village of the aboriginal Thao people of Taiwan used to be. Now, there are lots of street food and shopping along Ita Thao Shopping Street. If you want to take the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which is a cable car that goes across the lake, you will also need to embark here.

 

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As we wandered away from the tourist shops, we found ourselves at a beautiful spot by the water. Quite picturesque!

 

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As we took the ferry back to Shiushe Pier, we got to enjoy the sun beginning to set. Despite the water not being as blue as we imagined, it was still a memorable and fun spot. We only wished that it wasn’t so hot that day!

 

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Walking back to the visitor centre to catch the bus, you’ll pass some shops and homes. Nothing else much to do around here though.

 

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When we got back to Taichung, it was already dinner time. We decided to head back to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市 as there was so much to see and eat! We decided to try the stall that sold Big Sausage Wrapped with Small Sausage. I had heard this is a famous Taiwanese snack!

 

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It is essentially a glutinous rice wrapped around a sausage with some pickled vegetables. It was pretty good especially since it was piping hot!

 

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Of course I had to get stinky tofu, but this stand sold Red Tea Stinky Tofu. Apparently, they soak the tofu in red tea before they deep fry it. A box comes with some pickled veggies, stinky tofu sauce which is slightly spicy, and a side of kimchi. I thought the tea flavour wasn’t super strong but you could definitely taste some of it. I liked how you could dip the tofu in with as much sauce as you wish as it was served on the side. Also, I loved how kimchi was a side dish!

 

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Aniki Potato sold 30 cm long fries! You can choose to drizzle different sauces and toppings on your fries.

 

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We chose the Fries with Seaweed Powder. However, we didn’t end up enjoying these. I think if we chose one with some sauce on it, they would’ve tasted better since these were a bit dry and flavourless without sauce.

 

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And to quench our thirst, we went back to Bei Hui Papaya Milk to get their signature Papaya Milk again. It’s so good!

That concluded our last night in Taichung as we decided to head to Taipei for the last leg of our trip. There were still quite a few places I wanted to visit in Taichung, but honestly, the transportation isn’t very good to get around. To hire a private driver for a group of 2 is also a bit pricey. I suggest visiting Taichung with a larger group so you can rent a driver to take you around at a more affordable price. The FengJia Night Market was definitely one of my favourite night markets in Taiwan so far though!

 

 

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[Taiwan Series] Day 3 in Taichung: Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村, Miyahara 宮原眼科, and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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Our time in Kaohsiung came to an end and we were off to the next city – Taichung 台中. Taichung is located right in the centre of Taiwan. Again, the most convenient way is to simply taking their Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) 台灣高鐵. We arrived back at Zuoying THSR station which is quite a large station actually.

 

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Finally got a picture of the bullet trains as well! They are quite similar to the ones in Japan.

 

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The seating on the trains are also very comfy and spacious. Lots of leg room and you can eat on the train. We arrived in Taichung in around 1.5 hours.

 

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There aren’t too many ways to get around in Taichung despite the city being 2nd largest city in Taiwan. They do not have a MRT other than the THSR, so getting around can be a bit difficult. You can take a bus but it’s not super tourist friendly so instead I suggest taking Uber or the taxi. Prices aren’t super cheap, but it’s still much cheaper than in North America. Especially if you have 4 people, then it’s definitely a better deal. So after we got to Taichung HSR Station, we caught a taxi to GOGO Hotel 富盛商旅. The hotel is pretty centarlly located, although you’ll probably still need to catch a taxi to get around, but it would be a short ride. Hotels in Taichung aren’t too expensive and we got ours for around $70 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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Upon entering our room, we already felt that it was much more spacious than the other hotels we have stayed at in Taiwan. Tons of space around our bed to open up our huge luggages.

 

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I also really liked how the bed was king size! I rarely see such big beds in Asia unless you request for them. However, I thought the interior was  a bit dated and they could use some renovations. Carpet could be cleaned up a lot more.

 

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The bathroom was actually pretty nice and modern though. Again, it was quite spacious.

 

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Shower is enclosed in a glass door. Overall, not a bad hotel for the price and location. I’d say it’s a typical business type hotel. Has all your basics and necessities but don’t expect anything fancy.

 

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One of the spots I really wanted to visit in Taichung was Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村. Unfortunately, getting here is a bit difficult as it’s not in the city centre but rather in the Nantun District. There isn’t much in this area so your only options are to take a bus (which requires transferring) or to take a taxi/Uber. We ended up going with Uber and it still took almost 20 minutes from our hotel. I imagine taking the bus would take much longer and the buses also do not come often so you might be waiting around in the heat for a while. When we arrived, we were greeted by the colourful paint everywhere from the walls to the floor!

 

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Rainbow Village is free to enter, although they appreciate it when you leave a donation or buy some of their souvenirs to keep things running. The area is open from 9am – 6pm everyday.

 

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The village actually used to be where veterans lived, but as the government began moving veterans to new homes, the plan was to demolish this area for new developments. However, there was one last veteran who stayed here, who is known as Rainbow Grandpa! He began to paint colourful pictures to stop demolition of the remaining houses. Local students ended up discovering this spot and decided to help save and preserve this village.

 

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Whether you enjoy art or not, I think this spot will bring a smile to your face with all the vibrant colours. And of course, this is the perfect spot to get your Instagram worthy pictures!

 

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They also opened up a small souvenir shop featuring Rainbow Grandpa’s artwork. You may also be able to meet the famous Rainbow Grandpa here if you’re lucky since he still lives here!

 

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S decided to get a souvenir coin by pressing some coins in a machine. Cute! We probably only spent around 30 minutes at the village because the area is honestly quite small. It just depends how long you spend taking pictures.

 

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As we were leaving, we noticed there weren’t done painting! There were men up on the roofs continuing to paint the tiles. I bet it will look different the next time I visit again! Be warned that when you look for a cab or Uber when you leave, it may cost more as there are rarely any cabs around this area. The ones that are here are mainly bringing tourists here, so they seem to charge a bit more to come to this area.

 

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Miyahara 宮原眼科 was next on our list so we ended up cabbing here from Rainbow Village. The shop is unique because it was actually an eye clinic built by a Japanese optometrist back when the Japanese occupied Taiwan. Today, it is a dessert shop famous for ice cream, pineapple cakes, and other pastries.

 

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The architecture of this building is modern with a historical ambiance. My immediate thought was it reminded me of some Harry Potter backdrop. High ceilings with wooden furniture and many bookshelves and cabinets.

 

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Looking up, you’ll find natural sunlight peeking in through the glass windows with something similar to stain art.

 

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If you wish, you can dine upstairs. Our goal was to try their ice cream, which is a shop just outside the building. However, when we arrived, the line up was extremely long. Instead, we decided to sit in the restaurant for convenience. I believe there is a minimum spend though, but it’s not too hard if you each order something.

 

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The interior upstairs is also very unique. It had velvet chairs and you felt like you were taken back in time.

 

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Even the napkin had the logo on it!

 

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I decided to get the Miyahara Milk Tea. I liked how the pearls and syrup come separately so you can add as much as you wish. In terms of the milk tea itself though, I thought it wasn’t as smooth as some of the other bubble tea shops. Especially given the higher price, I would probably skip it next time.

 

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S got the Chocolate Berry Slush which featured a dark chocolate and it came with a shot of what we believe is some sort of brandy syrup. We ended up not enjoying this drink too much because the alcohol made the drink quite bitter.

 

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Moving on, we ordered some of their famous ice cream. It should be noted that if you sit in the restaurant, you can’t try all their flavours which are A LOT in their ice cream shop. They have so many varieties of chocolate ice cream and many other flavours too. If you sit in the restaurant, there are only 10 flavours you can choose from. Anyways, when our ice cream arrived, they had a rotating platter of toppings. Never had ice cream with such an assortment of toppings! We ended up getting the pineapple cake, suncake, a cacao ball, almond cookie and the butterfly pastry.

 

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This is the Moon Pavillion Sundae we got and it comes with your choice of 4 ice creams and 5 toppings. The sundae isn’t cheap at $450 NTD so almost $20 CAD! We ended up getting the Irwin mango, Heiye lychee, Lugu green tea, and Vanuatu 44% milk chocolate. So many special flavours! The ice cream sits on top of a waffle cone and the toppings we chose sat on top. It was definitely a lot for two people. I think it’s more for 3 people but this was the only size they offered for ice cream if you sit in. I suggest going to the outdoor shop if the line up isn’t too long since there’s so many more flavours to choose from and I think it’s also slightly cheaper.

 

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After dessert, we walked around some nearby malls and even played some indoor basketball at one of the malls. Yes… random but it was fun! Anyways, getting hungry, we took an Uber to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市. I believe this is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and I absolutely loved it! Definitely on the top of my list.

 

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It reminds me slightly of Dotonbori in Osaka with all the big in your face billboards for the restaurants. Love the atmosphere here. Ask your driver to drop you off at Fuxing Road 福星路 to be in the middle of the action.

 

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I know we’re not in Japan, but they had a large takoyaki stall and I was craving them.

 

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The Takoyakis weren’t bad but the ones in Japan are definitely better. I think these were a bit on the mushy side. Still, it satisfied my takoyaki craving!

 

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Of course, S had to get one of his favourite popcorn chicken from J&G Fried Chicken. We now have this in Vancouver but the ones in Taiwan still taste better. Perhaps it’s the chicken they use.

 

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We got a bag of the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken and it was piping hot and crispy on the outside.

 

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Getting thirsty, we looked behind us and found Bei Hui Papaya Milk which I heard is a famous chain.

 

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As their name says, they are famous for Papaya Milk, so of course got a cup of that. Wow – it was refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. I really enjoyed this after all the greasy food!

 

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We then walked further into some side streets. Fu Xing Road is their main road with tons of shops for clothing and food, but there are even more stalls if you walk into the side streets. These are smaller sized with less fancy advertising. There is also a section with tons of entertainment.

 

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As it was really hot that day, we ended up getting another drink and got a Brown Sugar Fresh Milk Tea. This was actually my first time trying a brown sugar drink, and now this hype is all over Vancouver. This drink was simple but delicious and I enjoyed the tinier pearls.

Overall, we had a great fun packed day in Taichung and I highly recommend checking FengJia Night Market out when you’re in Taichung. There is endless amounts to see and eat at this night market so I can see why it’s so popular!