My Visit to Taiwan Part 1

The Republic of China (Taiwan) was founded in 1912, making it the first democratic republic in Asia. In 1949, the government moved to Taiwan and maintained jurisdiction over an area encompassing the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, Dongsha, Zhongsha, and Nansha. Taiwan's total land area is about 36,000 square kilometers (14,400 square miles) with Population 23 million. It is shaped like a leaf that is narrow at both ends. It lies off the southeastern coast of mainland Asia, across the Taiwan Strait from China-- an island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. To the north is Japan; to the south is the Philippines. Many airlines fly to Taiwan, making it the perfect travel destination.(source: Discover Taiwan


I have visited Taiwan early this year for official work along with some of my colleague. I only had free time to post now due to busy with work. This is part 1 of my post, this post consist of hundreds of photos. Hope your internet is fast enough to view them all. 


It took us about 4 hours 30 minutes flight from Kuala Lumpur. Our 8D7N trip covered some of the places from Northern to Southern part of Taiwan along Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaoshiung, Pintung. We hired a local tour guide. Having a guide really help a lot especially if you are a first timer to Taiwan. So that you don’t have to waste time looking around for the place you wanted to visit. Usually they will recommend you interesting places. They will help you to arrange everything from the time you step in Taiwan soil until depart. It's highly recommended requesting for a small group rather than big one so that easier to manage and you will have enough time to stop at each place. Our group is consist of 10 people. It's just perfect. We contacted a local tourist company from our country and then they will look and arrange a guide in Taiwan. Upon reaching airport, it’s highly recommended to buy Taiwan prepaid sim card, usually come together with mobile data. It’s much more cheaper to make international call as well convenient for having mobile data around to share/brag your stay in Taiwan rather than looking for free wifi. If you like to know more, check out part 2 of my visit.


Our tour guide - Mr. James, very friendly and walk faster than us despite his age almost 60's


Public Transport in Taiwan (Guide to getting around if travel without a tour guide)



Getting around in Taiwan is very easy and convenient. Taiwanese people are friendly and willing to help if you ask for direction. Several transportation you can consider is rail (train), bus, taxi or just rent a car.

Rail transport in Taiwan consist of extensive networks of railways (1496 km as of 2003). Though no longer as dominant as it once was, Taiwan's high population density continues to make rail transport an extremely important form of transportation, especially along the densely populated western corridor. In 2011, over 863.4 million passengers used the rail systems in Taiwan, averaging 2.36 million passengers per day.The railways of Taiwan include conventional rail, rapid transit systems, and high-speed rail, as well as specialized railways for tourists and industry. (source: Wikipedia)



Intercity railways

There are two operators that provide intercity services in Taiwan:

Taiwan Railway Administration - TRA is the main operator of most passenger services and all freight services on Taiwan's 1067mm gauge traditional network. The various main lines form a loop around the island that connect most of the country's major cities, with small branch lines at various points to the interior. TRA operates both intercity trains throughout Taiwan, and commuter services into the major cities.

Taiwan High Speed Rail - THSR operates services on the newly built 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge high-speed rail line connecting Taipei and Kaohsiung, on a route that runs on the western side of the island. The operating speed is up 300Km/h. The ride is so smooth and we barely feel it is moving that fast.

Ticketing for THSR



Urban Metro

There are currently two operators provide transit in 3 of Taiwan major cities (Taipei, New Taipei, Kaohsiung), click on the link below to know more about history and route map.



With the increasing urbanization of Taiwan, several urban rapid transit systems have been constructed with several more being planned namely Taoyuan International Airport MRT, Taoyuan Metro, and Taichung Metro. (source: Wikipedia)

For bus route in Taipei, just click Taipei Bus Information and Transit System. There’s an option to choose English language for the site. Here, you can easily find the info about route, bus line no., travel time and fare. You will find it very useful going to places that will be mentioned below. Other than that, you can just get a taxi or rent a car. 


The Old Streets of Jiufen 


Our first visit is to Jiufen old street. It is said that long time ago there were only nine families in Jiufen. Before the roads on land were built, all materials were transported via ships. Thus a habit was formed that nine pieces of same object were purchased at one time for reservation. Hence, the place was called Jiufen. 

Jiufen used to be the center of gold mining. It is located within the hills in northeast of Taiwan. The village is next to the mountain and facing the sea. In 1890, someone struck gold near Jiufen. The poor village with only nine families soon attracted prospectors of 4,000 families. The village once was gold city of Asia and called little Shanghai or little Hong Kong. However, with the decline of gold mining activities, Jiufen fades. Later, several movies chose to shoot here and the movies won international acknowledgement. For example, the film "A City of Sadness" has won first prize in Venice Film Festival and awakened people's memory of Jiufen. It seems that the prosperous old streets, buildings, mines and the glamorous gold digging days are flashing before our eyes. The place is whispering its golden past. Now, there are many unique tea houses in Jiufen. These tea houses are best stops during visit to this mountain village. Also, there is the beautiful ocean view of Keelung outer sea.

The most prosperous shopping district is Jiufen Old Street. It goes through most of the village. There are many visitors on the street. Along the street there are shops vending the most famous country snack of Jiufen, yam dish and various local dishes. There are some historical items well reserved. The trip to Jiufen is full of fun and delights. Jiufen has many accommodation places provided by local residents. If you were not in a hurry, you may want to pick a nice inn and stay for the starlight and fishing lights at night. (http://eng.taiwan.net.tw)





















































Stinky Tofu (Chou Tofu), as the name suggested, is a form of fermented tofu (bean curd) that has a strong odour. Some people find it very stinky. It is a snack that is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands or as a side dish in lunch bars rather than in restaurants. This dish is most commonly prepared by deep frying: fermented bean curd is placed directly into hot oil until its surface becomes crisp, then removed from heat and cut into bite-sized quarters. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, the dish is usually served with pickled cabbage.





Despite the stinky smell, surprisingly the taste is really good, tofu is crispy outside but soft inside, blend very well with the spicy sauce. A must try when you visit Taiwan.




























































Direction: 


Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR Taipei Station) or Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA Taipei Station) to Taipei MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, take Keelung Bus (bound for Jinguashi), stop at Jiufen 


Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 



Located at the heart of Taipei City, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall) was built to commemorate the former Taiwan President Chiang Kai-Shek. Established in 1980,Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall has a total area of two hundred and fifty thousand square meters. Occupying a large area, the memorial hall is covered with the colors of Taiwanese flag: blue, white, and red. The colors of the flag symbolize independence, equality, and universal love. Since 2007, it has been noted as a national historical site of Taiwan. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is now an important landmark of Taipei that attracts large populations of visitors every year. 

Being used as Chiang Kai-Shek’s former office, the hall has various arrangements for each area. At the heritage display room, visitors may see historical records, valuable preserved photographs, and old commodities used by the former president. Through these displays, visitors will have an understanding of the precious historical properties of Taiwan. Also, Chiang Kai-Shek’s vehicles are showed in the central corridor. In addition, the auditorium offers a place for expert speeches and receptions of important foreign guests. The former president’s office was restored according to real positions in the memorial room. Through visiting the memorial hall, visitors will understand his working manners and establishments of the former president. 

Apart from the main memorial hall, the National Theater and National Concert Hall are at the corner of the occupant. Since its establishment in 1987, the hall and theater have held numerous exclusive local and international performances. With various fine performances and exhibitions, these halls are significant to art and culture of Taiwan. 

After abolishment of the martial laws, this large area is sometimes crowded for political rallies, social events, commercial activities, exhibitions, and concerts. (Source: http://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/)
















Direction: 

By Bus: 

1. Bus route 15, 18, 20, 22, 37, 204, 208, 214, 236, 248, 249, 251, 252, 261, 263, 270, 297,      621, 623, 630, 65, exit Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall station(中正紀念堂站) or Nanmen       market station(南門市場站). 

By MRT: 

1. Take Taipei MRT to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station (中正紀念堂站) directly. 


Yeliu Geopark 



Located in New Taipei City (Taipei County) along the North Coast of Taipei, the Yeliou Geopark (formerly known as the Yeliou Scenic Area) is known for its collection of unique rock formations. Formed by decades of sea erosion and earth movement, the Yeliou Geopark presents peculiar surroundings and the beauties of nature. The 700 meters rocky coastline contains a variety of rocks and fossils in different shapes, including candles, mushroom, bean curd, beehive, kettle, mixing plate etc. 


Yeliou Geopark is extremely popular among the North Coast Scenic Areas in Taiwan. The popular sceneries at Yeliou Scenic Area are the Queen’s Head, the Fairy’s Shoe, and the Candle Rock. The wave erosion effects are also well known in the Yeliou Geopark, it is the most remarkable erosion scenic spot in Taiwan. Apart from unique natural sceneries, Yeliou Geopark also features Ocean World, which is the first ocean park in Taiwan offering live sea creature performances. At the Ocean World, you are able to see performances of dolphins and sea lions. In addition, the Ocean World features a 100 meter long undersea tunnel for you to watch all sorts of marine life at your own leisure.















This rock looks like a sitting gorilla








People are queuing to take a pciture the the popular Queen's Head.





“Queen’s Head” is in fact a mushroom rock; it gets the title because the shape as formed after the top of rock being fallen apart in 1962~1963 appears like the side face of Queen Elizabeth. (Source: http://www.ylgeopark.org.tw/ENG)











In Taiwan, people walking with their dog is very common thing.












In order to maintain travel quality and ecological protection, the implementation of new restrictions for tour groups during peak times starts on October 1, 2012: (source:http://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/) 


Tour group is required a minimum of 30-person (citizen, foreigner, and field trip) and up to 50-person. Tour guide pass or tour escort pass is required. 

Period of restriction: March 1st to May 31st and October 1st to November 30th.

Reservation should be made at least three days in advance. 

Tour group over 50-person or within 3 days of booking, please call during call center hours. 

Call center hours: 9:30-11:00 and 13:30-15:00, 7 days a week. 

Reservation via phone: +886-2-2492-8199 

Direction: 

By Bus: 

From Taipei, Banciao, Danshui, Keelung to Jinshan direction. Take Gouguang Bus to arrive. 


Sun Moon Lake 



The Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan and one of the most beautiful and most famous tour sites in Asia. Shaped like an irregular rhombus, the eastern part of the Sun Moon Lake is shaped like a round sun while the western part is like a crescent moon. Thus it was named “Sun Moon Lake.” The beauty of the Sun Moon Lake is the calm, turquoise water complemented by the majestic mountains that surround the lake. Layers and layers of mountains and countless mountain peaks can be seen as more distant mountains fade into the sky. Like a mystical Chinese painting, the scenery of the Sun Moon Lake is truly breathtaking. 

There is an island at the middle of the lake, named Lalu. Lalu Island was a sacred place among the Thao tribe who originally inhabited there. The island used to separate the “Sun Lake” and the “Moon Lake”. However, due to the earthquake of September 21, 1999 and a number of historical events and constructions, the Lalu Island is much smaller than it was before. 

There are a total of 7 hiking trails in the surrounding mountains that provide different views and angles of the beautiful scenery at Sun Moon Lake. In addition, although swimming at the Sun Moon Lake is usually prohibited, there is an annual swimming carnival held at the Sun Moon Lake around the Mid-Autumn festival. 

Firework shows and concerts are also very popular during the same time of the year.
The Sun Moon Lake gondola is the new transportation; visitors may appreciate the lake by biking, walking, as well as taking a boat ride or a gondola ride. 

For more information, please visit the Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area's official website. (source:http://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/)























































Electic car for rent

Directions : 

By Car : 

1. National number 1 highway(國道一號), exit Wangtien offramp(王田交流道), connect to      Tai 1 route(台1線) to Zhongzhuan(中庄) Tai 14 route(台14線), pass Caotun(草屯), to Ailan    bridge(愛蘭橋), turn right to Tai 21 route(台 21線), pass Yuchih(魚池) to reach. 

By Bus : 

1. Take Guoguang Bus(國光客運) towards Sun Moon Lake(日月潭) to reach directly. 


Anping Fort 



Anping Fort has a historical significance like none other. During the Dutch occupation in 1624, this fort, originally named as Fort Zeelandia, was established along with Zeelandia City. This establishment was where the first recorded history of Taiwan took place. When the Dutch was driven out of Taiwan in the Qing dynasty by Koxinya(Cheng Cheng-Gong), the fort was renamed as Anping Fort. During that time, the fort was also the home of Konxinya, so it also has the name of Anping Castle. After World War ll, the fort was reconstructed and now it has become a popular tourist attraction. Although reconstruction took place, the remnants of Zeelandia, a red-brick wall and a Banyan tree, are still maintained at Anping Fort and are classified as a grade 1 historical monument. 

Over the years, the surroundings of Anping Fort have been re-constructed into a historical park. Due to the growing tourist demands, the park also includes an Observatory Platform and an exhibition hall. (source:http://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/)






Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm 

Entrance fee: 50NT 

Direction: 

By Bus: 

Take bus no. 2, 88 or 99 to Fort Anping stop (安平古堡站). 

Tai-Yi Ecological Leisure Farm 


The Tai-yi Ecological Leisure Farm has great resources. After careful establishment, it conveys a beautiful aura and distributes the most magnificent spark and joy of growth. As soon as you enter the park, you can feel and smell the flowers, the youth and feel the fresh air. You can see life’s youth and colorfulness and the beautiful scenery of the farm. The core area is 13 hectares and the vision area goes up to thousands of hectares. The carefully planned theme parks are: Flower God Temple, Rain Forest Culture Museum, Butterfly Pavilion, Green Sculpture Park and Greenery Square. (source: http://www.taii.com.tw/en/profile2.php)



























If you like to know more about Taiwan, check out my other post:

My Visit to Taiwan Part 2
Maid Cafe in Taiwan
Otaku Shops in Taiwan
Modern Toilet Restaurant Taiwan

Bernard Tzing

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