Thursday, April 7, 2011

What I find relaxing about my Taiwan Trip

The itinierary for my third trip to Taiwan from 21 Mar - 31 Mar 2011was as follows:

Day 1 -Singapore to Taipei
Day 2 - 3 Ximending area, Taipei
Day 4 - 5 Lushan Hotsprings, Nantou
Day 6 - 8 Sun Moon Lake, Nantou
Day 9 - 10 Wulai Hotsprings, Taipei
Day 11 - Taipei to Singapore.

This was a free-and-easy trip with a friend and the detailed itinerary came about after weeks of reading about the places we would like to visit and much discussion over coffee. We had booked all our hotels ahead of the trip and managed to get a promotional SIA ticket at $600 inclusive of taxes. I have taken mega gigs of photos but will only upload those that I have something to write about on this blog and slowly, over time...

What are I find most relaxing about this trip to Taiwan are (in the order of when they were first experienced):
Flying to Taipei on our National Carrier Singapore Airlines. I managed to watch three movies that I had wanted to watch before - Black Swan (I did not like the ending), The King's speech (It was good and the Oscars were justified) and The Tourist (not for the plot but only because I wanted some eye candy).

The freedom to pick and choose what to eat and to eat at anytime we fancy.

Taking time to explore a place of interest with no time restriction imposed by at tour guide. There was even time to stop and enjoy the antics of the numerous school children who visited the Floral Expo in Taipei.

Watching a Thermal Valley steam in Xinbeitou in Taipei. 
Wanting to go to the top of Taipei 101 and changing our mind because the city was enveloped in mist. Next time. It was relaxing to know that we were not pressurised to anything because there was insufficient time.  
Spending an afternoon instead of the usual one-hour at Jiufen. We took our time to savour the interesting food in Jiufen and even had a lovely time at a tea house on the slope of a hill.

Observing a service staff taking a break at another tea house across from the teahouse where I was sitting.

How many tourists actually visit the tea houses in Jiufen to spend some time to enjoy a few relaxing moments like these? Drinking fragrant Osmanthus flower tea - mmmmm.
Drinking smooth Taiwanese coffee by an open window and enjoying the cool, fresh air.
Having time to make a sketch of the tea house opposite.

Travelling on the local buses. We just bought the easicard that works like our EZlink card and hopping from bus to train and vice-versa was a breeze.
Studying the branches of a tree by the suspension bridge across the river connecting the old and new parts of Lushan.
Taking a moment to admire someone's potted plants.
Coffee after lunch at a convience store with a view.

Time to focus on the morning dew.

Lushan was the best because only the locals were there and people were surprised at how we had found our way day by bus. 
Relaxation was also having time to sit around and observe other people.
Sitting around this snack joint in a park in the Cingjing farm vicinity where the boy who made our waffles and served us our drinks really, really took his time and for a while I was worried about missing the bus back to Lushan.
Just looking at this waffle and waiting for it to be served was a poetic endeavour.
Sitting on the curb by the side of the winding mountain road to wait for the local bus to take us back to Wushe town to catch another bus back to Lushan I watched how time moved for this young lady selling fruits and vegetables by the road.
Looking over the small town of Wushe while waiting to catch the bus back to Lushan from Cingjing Farm.

Friendly sweetie pies who struck this endearing pose when I requested for a photo. They were waiting to be picked up from school.

A strange contraption that, upon investigation, was something for stubbing out cigarette butts.
I have seen many historical bells but never struck one before. Believe me the reverberation was awesome!
Looking at the image of the Tibetan Monk on a map of his travels to India to obtain the Buddhist Scriptures was something we would have no time for in a package tour.
Taking time to enjoy being enveloped in a thick mist at the Ci En Pagoda in Sun Moon Lake.

The bell right at the top of the Ci En Pagoda that was seven storey high. The sound from this bell was super awesome!
Bamboo takes time to appreciate and we had that!
Ah, coffee and cheese cake and a view to soothe tired eyes and feet.
Hotspring Hotel in Wulai makes me feel like never wanting to leave.
If my bathroom has a view like this I would probably set up an office there.
The National Palace Museum and all its exhibits that make you wish you could spend a few days instead of a few hours enjoying them.
The Taipei MRT that was just superb! Despite the crowds during peak hour, despite the hordes of people thronging the stations you never suffer from nausea or claustrophobia for one reason - the people in Taiwan are super courteous and considerate because they queue, they wait for people to come out of the trains before going in. There was orderliness even in the way they travel on the escalators. Everyone automatically kept to the right side so that people in a hurry could get through with no hassle.
On the last day just hours before we set off for the airport we decided to take things easy and so we picked an MRT line that was above ground (The Wenhu or Brown Line) and travelled the length of it from one end to the other.
At the Taipei Zoo station which was at one end of the Wenhu line, we took the Maokong cable car ride that lasted an hour. We wanted to relax before going home and a train and cable-car ride just fit the bill perfectly.
Looking out at the buildings from upper levels of MRT stations. You get another perspective of the place you visit each time.

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